Q&A Series: 10 (Beyond) Science Facts
Interview with Prof. Timme
Published on in NEWS
It’s not always about science – today we are publishing the interview with the cfaed Professor and Chair for Network Dynamics Marc Timme from our Q&A series “10 (Beyond) Science Facts.” Do you think that our researchers have always been pursuing the career path of a scientist? Are you sure that you know your group leader well? Would you like to get helpful career advice from someone with a great deal of experience?
With the third Q&A episode, we would like to introduce Prof. Marc Timme to you. Enjoy reading!
Pretend you are the Federal Minister of Research: What would your first action be?
Relax the rules. Encourage unplannable, unreasonable and thus also unreasonably great work. Providing mainly guidelines of what should be achieved, try not to regulate how exactly. Trust students, lecturers and researchers that they will do a good job also in the future if they have done so in the past. Keep funding at a reasonable high balanced level and prefer many smaller chunks, not gigantic research programs and flagships. Trying out many ideas by many minds may result in many failures, but will also bring into focus a diverse range of perspectives and result in more breakthrough advances, not imagined possible otherwise.
What ist the coolest thing about your research?
Working on the theoretical foundations of collectively emerging phenomena in network systems, it is fun to discover or build conceptual bridges and overarching principles across application fields. This often enables us to transfer ideas from neuroscience modeling to epidemic spreading or fluctuation-driven power grids and to work on very different fields simultaneously, including new computational paradigms, self-organized "intelligent" systems and systemic sustainability.
What makes a perfect day at work for you?
Discussions and debates with collaborators and students resulting in finding a solution or discovering a pathway to a conceptual research problem.
Why did you choose Dresden as your place to live and work?
Besides the nice city, the open-minded people at TUD and the sun outside? Because here I can realize a truly cross-disciplinary program of research and teaching: between mathematics, physics, computer science, biology and engineering.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
First, a broker - to play with numbers every day, then a researcher - to play with theories and concepts.
What piece of advice would you give to junior researchers?Do what you really like. If you enjoy working on a question and with a nice team around you, you will have fun times, no matter how successful individual steps will be and when your research breakthrough may come.
What was the best career advice you've been given?
See above. I was advised to follow those questions I liked best and did that, often against other advice that suggested to work with these important researchers or on that trending field.
What is on top of your bucket list?
Finalizing a book on collective network dynamics, starting to research and teach on how to make our society dynamically sustainable.
List three things only few people know about you.
I (1) bike and (2) swim relatively fast and (3) am much slower in most other things.
What's next?Network inverse problems: Can we predict network structure from dynamics? Can we control or design them to achieve desired dynamics or to avoid certain states? For linear systems, these questions are well answered. For nonlinear systems, we are just beginning to understand, yet have myriads of application options: power grids, synthetic biological networks, smoothening traffic flow, new forms of computing devices…
About Prof. Marc Timme
Became TU Dresden Strategic Professor and Chair for Network Dynamics in 2017, bridging the cfaed with the Institute for Theoretical Physics. Marc is interested in building mathematical, conceptual and algorithmic foundations towards an understanding of the collective nonlinear dynamics of networks, applications fields include biological and bio-inspired technical systems, future mobility, network economy & sustainability as well as network inverse problems of inference, design, and control. Enjoys swimming, hiking, philosophy -- and science.