We live in a world of evolving structures and patterns. From the emergence and proliferation of life, to the development of society and language, to the dynamically changing climate and contours of the planet, natural scientists are confronted with understanding systems that are ceaselessly evolving – often into evermore complex forms. Scientists have been tremendously successful in understanding patterns for systems that have stabilized into an unchanging state of equilibrium, but the dynamical patterns of evolution owe their existence to being out of equilibrium. Equilibrium techniques developed serially in the physical, life, and social sciences over the past two centuries do not suffice to describe dynamics far from equilibrium. And so these fields all face this new frontier in parallel, raising the opportunity for a synergistic approach.

The Penn Evolution Cluster is a group of natural science faculty who share an interest in advancing the science of evolution, broadly defined, through multidisciplinary intellectual exchange. Overcoming language and departmental barriers requires a sustained effort. A major activity of Cluster is the Penn Evolution Forum, a roving monthly seminar series hosted among the seven natural science departments, in which faculty and graduate students involved in all aspects of evolution can gather.