Eric Berlow

The business world, like nature, is a complex ecosystem we can study.

TED Senior Fellow and Complexity Scientist

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Eric Berlow | TED Senior Fellow and Complexity Scientist
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

Eric Berlow is an ecologist, complexity scientist, and speaker who specializes in not specializing. In an increasingly interconnected world, this TED Senior Fellow helps simplify things. Berlow untangles Nature’s complexity—the web of species interacting with each other and their environment—to determine how complex systems persist and predict how they change when disturbed. 

“Eric Berlow doesn’t feel overwhelmed when faced with complex systems. He knows that more information can lead to a better, simpler solution.”


Complex problems are a lot like natural ecosystems: they have many moving parts that all potentially interact with one another. Consider the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, or the challenge of globally sustainable energy, food, and water security. Berlow helps uncomplicate these compound problems by identifying the key influencers—the problems that most need to be solved. On stage, Berlow helps audiences embrace complexity, reshape the way they look at problems, and unlock creativity.


Berlow is internationally recognized for highly cited publications on ecological complexity in Nature, Science, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. He was the founding director of the University of California’s first environmental research center in Yosemite National Park, where he continues to research climate change impacts to protected ecosystems and endangered species. Berlow is the Co-Founder of mappr—a cloud-based interactive network visualizer and calculator for finding hidden patterns and connections in complex relationship data. Their affiliated mapprlabs leverages mappr to help untangle complex problems that hold the promise of exceptional positive impact for humanity.   

Speech Topics

Big Data
Simplifying Complexity

Recent research on natural ecosystems suggests that, for any problem with many moving parts that all influence one another, the more complex the problem—the more resistant it seems to change—the easier it may be to understand and solve. In this talk, Eric Berlow shows audiences how embracing complexity can lead to simple answers. How can complexity theory help us harness more creativity to solve difficult problems? How can you map complex systems to be able to isolate their most influential agents? And, how can we use our knowledge of ecosystems to help solve our largest societal problems? On stage, Berlow unravels his fascinating research to help audiences embrace complexity and become better problem solvers. 

Business Strategy
The Ecosystems of Business

Natural ecosystems represent millions of years of open source Research and Development on how entire systems have developed the resilience to deal with unpredictable times. In this talk, Eric Berlow applies his work on ecosystems to the business world, to help audiences rethink the way they structure their business. What can ecosystems teach us about sustainable business models? How do they manage risk? What makes them reliably productive in both good years and bad? And what characteristics do highly productive ecosystems have that challenge conventional business wisdom? Berlow helps audiences from any industry think bigger, question prevailing wisdom, and better assess their market.