Supercomputing Challenge

Keynote speaker--Dr. Neo Martinez

Neo Martinez

My mother made him do it. She was working to get my family through grad school and pregnant with their third child so it's not like dad could say no. So my father named me Neo Damian after a laser element dad was studying called neodymium. I grew up raising cows and horses and then enrolled at Cornell University hoping to become a veterinarian. Ecology proved even more fun and interesting and, after a 4 year break traveling and working as a carpenter, I finally finished my bachelor's at Cornell and then a Master's at University of Wisconsin at Madison and a Master's and Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley. Postdoctoral fellowships from the National Science and Ford Foundations at University of California's Bodega Marine Station and Imperial College's Center for Population Biology supported me to continue my research. I then went on to teach and conduct research as a professor at Cornell and San Francisco State University before founding the Pacific Ecoinformatics and Computational Ecology (PEaCE) Lab along with his two close colleagues, Jen Dunne and Rich Williams. Our PEaCE Lab uses ecoinformatics (the study and organization of ecological information) and computer models to promote awareness of ecological interdependence through research, development, and education. We do this while investigating the structure, function, and dynamics of diverse networks of organisms interacting with each other and their environment. I currently serve as President and Director of the PEaCE Lab based in Berkeley California with PEaCE "pods" in Santa Fe (NM), Santa Cruz (CA), Gothic (CO), and Darmstadt Germany where he and his former postdocs, Jen, Rich, and Uli Brose, conduct research together.

My research career began studying the structure of complex food webs that depict who eats whom among the many species of plants and animals occupying habitats such as lakes, rivers, forests, deserts and islands. I assembled the food web of Little Rock Lake in northern Wisconsin and used it and other data available in the 1990's to help overturn the diversity-complexity paradigm of "scale-invariant" food-web structure while trying to increase the quality and rigor of food-web data and analyses. In 2000, Rich and I invented the "niche model" which successfully generates food webs practically indistinguishable from the largest and most complex natural food webs then available. Jen, Rich and I then showed that the niche model also successfully predicted the network structure of newly available marine food webs and that complexity can increase the robustness of ecological networks to species loss. Following this work on network structure, Uli, Rich and I then explored the nonlinear dynamics of these food web networks describing interacting populations of many species. This work helped solve the mystery of how ecosystems persist in nature despite their incredible, and theoretically improbable, diversity and complexity. The solution involves a mix of the network structure of food webs, the body sizes of predators and their prey, and subtle aspects of animal behavior. These factors are incorporated into sophisticated computer simulations and visualizations of complex ecological networks that form the core of PEaCE Lab research. This work includes using new WWW software and computational hardware to greatly increase the accessibility of huge amounts of ecological information needed to improve our understanding of complex ecological networks. More can be learned from the PEaCE Lab's website;

Other than ecology, I enjoy playing guitar, mountain biking, snowboarding, and supporting underrepresented minorities in science by teaching and mentoring through the Ford Fellows program and though the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (

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