Stuart J. Bartlett
Postdoctoral Scholar Research Associate in Geochemistry
Stuart Bartlett graduated with an MPhys degree in Physics from the University of Bath in 2008. After an assistantship at the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) in Davos, he began a PhD in Complex Systems Simulation at the University of Southampton, graduating in 2014. He then took up a postdoctoral position in the Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences (CRYOS) at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). In 2016 he was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship by the Earth-life Science Institute (ELSI) at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. This included research visits to the California Institute of Technology, where he now continues as a postdoctoral researcher.
Stuart carries out research in several areas including complex systems, artificial life, nonequilibrium thermodynamics, and astrobiology. He has carried out extensive work on the thermodynamics of convective fluid flows, starting with analyses of thermodynamic extremum principles. More recent work has shown that convective flows are capable of hysteresis, memory, and information-processing. Current simulations are exploring a Turing-complete computational device made entirely from ‘convective logic gates'. He is also an expert in reaction-diffusion systems. His graduate work highlighted examples of life-like behaviour in these non-living systems, including both competition and homeostasis between dissipative structures. His aim for future work is to use stochastic and information thermodynamics to analyse the emergence of learning in chemical reaction networks and scenarios related to the origins of life. A recently funded NASA grant will also explore the use of computational mechanics techniques to analyse time series from exoplanet measurements. The eventual aim is to furnish this approach into a life detection method. Stuart has published philosophical works concerning the characterisation of life and its relationship to learning, and is also pioneering a machine learning study of the connections between the world of minerals and biological enzymes.
Stuart is an integrated member of the artificial life and astrobiology communities, reviewing manuscripts and assisting with conferences and workshops. He also collaborates with several key researchers in the origins of life field. He conducts peer review for several journals, with a focus on articles related to the thermodynamics of life. He has a strong interest in outreach and engagement, having organised a public origins workshop at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, spoken at a TEDx event, supervised students of all levels from high school to graduate, and given many guest lectures at various institutions. Recently, Stuart's work was highlighted in two Guardian articles (1 and 2) discussing possible Martian life and a new life definition introduced in a recent paper co-authored with Dr Michael Wong. This work was also discussed in a BBC Mundo article.