Office: EOS-South 260 Phone: 604-822-9258
Dr. Kurt Andrew Grimm
Human // Member // Explorer // Scientist // Innovator // Father // Recipient // Contributor
also see drkurtgrimm.com
Associate Professor, Department of Earth & Ocean Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Earth V6T 1Z4 / Teaching and Learning Fellow, University Sustainability Initiative / firstname.lastname@example.org / 604-822-9258 office
Key Themes: Dynamical Complexity in the Earth & Life sciences // The Coevolution of Oceans, Plate Tectonics, Climate & Life as a single dynamical phenomenon // A Unified Description of Life // Climate Surprises!? // Transformative Sustain-Ability Learning // Mindmapping // Urban Ecology and Planetary Regeneration // 21st Century Sustain-Ability // Jesus & the Bible
Two sentences: Kurt is an interdisciplinary Earth/Life scientist and is perpetually fascinated with patterning and transformation. Life is a verb: I aspire to a unique synthesis of natural and Living phenomena that may clarify, catalyze and perpetuate authentic (including personal) sustain-ability.
Four sentences: Dr. Kurt Grimm is an associate professor in the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of British Columbia. From my foundations in Earth systems science and applied ecology, I am researching the origins of patterning in the real world, a multi-facted enterprise. I am completing a simple unified description of Life that delivers broad explanatory power, explicit testability and utility for 21st century health and sustain-ability.Related topics of interest include self-organizing complexity, environmental Earth sciences, transformative sustain-ability learning and urban ecology. Conceptual and teaching innovations inform Life, health, climate and sustainability sciences.
Best Research Contributions
Narrative description of Research Interests:
Dr. Kurt Grimm is an associate professor in the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences at UBC. My curiosity is insatiable. Propelling and extending from my established research expertise in paleoecology and Earth’s environmental evolution, I remain interested and attentive to the dynamical origins of patterning in the world: cloud shapes, sedimentary bedforms, climate regulation, every human heartbeat. A long season of germination facilitated by observation, teaching (synthesis), study (the universe is my field area, the research literature and the people I encounter are my laboratory) and diverse (yet concordant/intersecting/convergent) life experiences has yielded a simple and useful synthesis. A unified theory of Life is central to my work, and informs my scholarship and innovation in Life, health, cognitive and sustainability sciences.
These three links encapsulate some aspects of my scholarly work.
1. Is Earth a Living System? http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2003AM/finalprogram/abstract_62123.htm (2003).
2. Wet Tectonics: http://www.agu.org/meetings/fm05/fm05-sessions/fm05_H33C.html (2005).
3. Katrina, Wilma and me: Learning to Live with Climate Surprises? http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0QQS/is_2_33/ai_n16726495 (2006).
Yet the legacy of my research is quite different from the present and future. In 2002, I made a decision to stop making measurements, and focused my full attention on a broad and unconventional synthesis. As I write these words in July 2012, that synthesis is coming to a completion that is astonishing to me. It is great fun, very satisfying, and shall be, I believe, useful to others.
Life is. Contemporary views of Life are profoundly reductionist, organism-focused and neodarwinian. These mechanistic and utilitarian perspectives are incomplete, they accompany conceptual and practical blind-spots, as they perpetuate scientific, cultural and theological confusion about the breadth, length, height and depth of a singular Life phenomenon, and how that arises and perpetuates in an observable universe of perpetual and spontaneous patterning.
Nature, the dynamics of patterning and Life itself: Their function and relatedness captured of my curiosity. Systems approximations were intricate, mechanical and unsatisfactory. A fresh start, a new synthesis, invited my intuition. I started deliberately, began sketching a lifetime of experiencing in the natural sciences and beyond.
What has emerged in these explorations has been nothing short of amazing to me. Plainly stated, a multifaceted and interdependent synthesis — Complexity is Not Complicated, Wet Tectonics, AUDOL and The Climate Consortium —is a data- and observation-based (i.e. scientific) synthesis; an open-minded inspection is required and invited. It is unconventional yet sensible and intuitive. The ideas (and their novel expression via mindmaps; see below) are well-tested in the undergraduate and graduate classroom.
One conspicuous fruit of this emerging synthesis — A Unified Description of Life (AUDOL) is simple, internally consistent, is empirically testable (performs well) and delivers broad explanatory power. It sounds kind of crazy (I'm not, I've checked) and even the sound of these ambitions seems to perplex and even annoy some people: particularly scientists. The sociocultural proces of advancing an unconventional synthesis has been very interesting and challenging.
The worldview that catapaulted industrial humanity into the 21st century seems unlikely to carry us through. We have some really big problems before and amongst us and we may soon be given an opportunity to (forgiving please the machine metaphor) reboot the world. Whether on planetary or bioregional-to-watershed scale, an agri-cultural and biocentric synthesis is perhaps required.
If our highest aspirations at the interface of humans and nature equals sustainability, a biocentric worldview is required. Doing that requires a clear and cogent understanding of what Life is, an encompassing and functional description. Exactly that, is coming to completion. Stay tuned, and visit drkurtgrimm.com.