University of Calgary

Jörn Davidsen

  • Professor; Associate Head (Research)

Biography, Research, Awards and Publications


Prof. Jörn Davidsen is a Professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Calgary working in the transdisciplinary field of Complexity Science. Starting with his PhD research in Theoretical Physics at the University of Kiel, Germany, and at Imperial College London, UK, he has worked on applications ranging from neurosciences to earthquakes using tools from statistical physics, complex network theory and nonlinear dynamics. This includes studies of chemical reaction-diffusion systems in collaboration with Nobel Laureate Gerhard Ertl’s group at the Fritz-Haber Institute in Berlin, Germany, as well as studies of the climate system while being a research associate at the British Antarctic Survey. Most recently, Prof. Davidsen was awarded a prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship. The latter has allowed him to spend extended periods of time as Visiting Research Professor at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam. In 2015 and again in 2017 he was elected Secretary of the Nonlinear Geophysics Focus Group of the American Geophysical Union. He currently leads the Computational Neuroscience Platform at the University of Calgary under its Brain and Mental Health Strategy. Together with his students, postdocs and collaborators, he has published over 70 peer-reviewed papers in international journals with well over 2000 citations.

Areas of Research

Complexity Science

Physical, geophysical, chemical, living and human­-made systems often show behaviors that cannot be understood by studying their building blocks or constituents to ever finer detail but that are emergent. The concept of emergence can be summarized by the statement that there exists an entity (e.g. an organism) which is more than the sum of its parts. This is often used as the defining property of a complex system. Many of these complex systems can be represented as a collection of dynamical units coupled via complex architectures. Complex network theory offers a unified description of these complex systems and has been invaluable in discovering unifying characteristics and principles despite the intrinsic differences between systems. Understanding these emergent characteristics and principles, their stability and the self­-organization processes leading to them in non-equilibrium systems is one of the central quests of modern physics. The research of my group aims to tackle this challenge. Prominent examples include seismicity and neural signaling or biological signaling processes in general, with immense importance for society. A detailed understanding of seismicity is required to ensure successful seismic hazard assessment and to explore the possibility of successful earthquake prediction. A detailed understanding of the brain is essential to tackle brain related diseases such as Alzheimer's and epilepsy.

  • Spreading & triggering processes
  • Fluid-induced seismicity
  • Computational neuroscience & the critical brain
  • Rock fracture & frictional sliding
  • Statistical seismology
  • Network neuroscience
  • Synchronization & chimera states
  • Sociophysics
  • Climate dynamics & climate networks
  • Extreme events and records
  • Pattern formation & cardiac arrhythmia

Research Partners

Don't hesitate to contact me if you are interested in joining my group as a new student or postdoc, some specific openings are listed here.


  • Humboldt Research Fellow, Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation. 2014
  • Alberta Ingenuity New Faculty Award , Alberta Innovates. 2010









  • Dr. rer. nat. - Theoretical Physics
    Christian-Albrechts University of Kiel, 2001

  • Pennsylvania State University, 1998


  • 2009 - Alberta Ingenuity New Faculty Award - Alberta Ingenuity Fund
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