Dirk Brockmann

Dirk Brockmann


Center Synergy of Systems, TUD Dresden University of Technology
Georg-Schumann-Str. 7a, 01069 Dresden
+49 351 463 33 1 99

Dirk Brockmann is director of the Center Synergy of Systems (SynoSys) at TU Dresden (Dresden University of Technology) and professor for Biology of Complex Systems in the Departments of Biology and Physics there. He studied physics and mathematics at the University of Göttingen, Germany where he received his PhD in theoretical physics.

Before becoming founding director of SynoSys he was professor at the Departments of Biology and Physics at Humboldt University of Berlin and led a research team at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, Germany’s national public health institute. Between 2008 and 2013 he was professor at the Department of Applied Mathematics at Northwestern University and faculty member of the Northwestern’s Institute on Complex Systems.

Dirk has worked on various topics, ranging from computational neuroscience and anomalous diffusion in biological and physical systems to infectious disease dynamics, human mobility, network theory and citizen science.

He pioneered the analysis of mass data obtained in natural experiments and understanding human behavior based on data collected by digital devices. During the COVID-19 pandemic he launched the German Data Donation Project, in which more than 500,000 donors provided data collected on their smart-watches and wearable devices on a daily basis for more than 2,5 years, the largest dataset of this kind in public hands worldwide.

Dirk believes in the value of anti-disciplinary science, the intentional breach of traditional scientific boundaries and is particularly interested in bridging the gap between biological and social sciences and the philosophy of complexity science. He coined the phrase “Get lost in Science!” to stress the importance of explorative research as opposed to hypothesis driven research, using a compass instead of a map for navigating the unknown.

In 2017 Dirk launched the Complexity Explorables, a collection of web-based interactive models of famous and less famous complex systems to illustrate the beauty of complex dynamical phenomena and teach young students about these systems.

Currently, Dirk is most interested in the design of citizen science projects, in which the general public can participate in scientific endeavours via digital tools and technologies. He is also interested in the emergence of cooperation, mutualism and fungi.

Dirk’s work has been covered extensively by the media and the press, e.g. the New York Times, the Washington Post, the BBC, various TV shows in the United States, Europe and Germany. During the pandemic he was a regular expert guest in numerous TV talk shows and the main German TV news shows.

Selected Publications

Citizen data sovereignty is key to wearables and wellness data reuse for the common good.

npj Digital Medicine (2024)7:27 (2024).

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Enhancing global preparedness during an ongoing pandemic from partial and noisy data.

PNAS Nexus 2(6), pgad192 (2023) (2023).

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Social networks predict the life and death of honey bees.

Nature Communications 12, 1110 (2021).

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Saving human lives: What complexity science and information systems can contribute.

Journal of statistical physics, 158 (3), 735–781 (2015).

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The scaling laws of human travel.

Nature 439 (7075), p. 462-465 (2006).

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Forecast and control of epidemics in a globalized world.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 101 (42), 15124-15129 (2004).

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All publications (google scholar)

Mini CV

Professional Experience & Education

Director, Center Synergy of Systems
Oct 2023 – Present Dresden, Germany
Professor for Biology of Complex Systems
TUD Dresden University of Technology
Oct 2023 – Present Dresden, Germany
Professor, Head of Project Group Computational Epidemiology
Robert Koch-Institute
Aug 2013 – Present Berlin, Germany
Institute for Biology, Humboldt University of Berlin
Aug 2013 – Sep 2023 Berlin, Germany
Associate Professor
Aug 2009 – Jul 2013 Evanston, USA
Associate Professor for Applied Mathematics
Aug 2008 – Jul 2013 Evanston, USA
Postdoctoral Researcher
Max-Planck-Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization
Aug 2003 – Jul 2008 Göttingen, Germany
PhD (Dr. rer. nat.) Theoretical Physics
University of Göttingen & Max-Planck-Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization
Jan 1996 – Jul 2003 Göttingen, Germany
Studies of Theoretical Physics and Mathematics
University of Göttingen
Aug 1990 – Aug 1995 Göttingen, Germany
Undergraduate Studies
Aug 1988 – Aug 1990 Durham, NC, USA