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 Institute for Complex Adaptive Matter (ICAM)


Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is a United States Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory, managed and operated by Los Alamos National Security (LANS), located in Los Alamos, New Mexico. The laboratory is one of the largest science and technology institutions in the world, and conducts multidisciplinary research in fields such as national security, space exploration, renewable energy, medicine, emergent materials, nanotechnology, and supercomputing. LANL is the largest institution and the largest employer in northern New Mexico, with approximately 9,000 direct employees and around 650 contractor personnel. Approximately one-third of the laboratory’s technical staff members are physicists, one quarter are engineers, one-sixth are chemists and materials scientists, and the remainder work in mathematics and computational science, biology, geoscience, and other disciplines. Professional scientists and students also come to Los Alamos as visitors to participate in scientific projects. The staff collaborates with universities and industry in both basic and applied research to develop resources for the future.

Los Alamos National Laboratory emphasizes research which is often cross disciplinary in nature to develop unique solutions to the fundamental issues underlying the Laboratory's three pillars: Materials Science, Science of Signatures, and Information Science and Technology. Areas of expertise for which Los Alamos is world renown include strongly correlated electron theory, a pulsed magnetic field facility currently holding the world record for the largest non-destructive magnetic field, heavy fermion research, and the general study of correlated electron systems. The Center of Non-Linear Studies provides a natural place for cross-fertilization among the different disciplines and lines of research that exist in Los Alamos. This multidisciplinary center hosts approximately thirty postdocs from different fields of physics and provides a unique atmosphere for synergetic collaborations. The Institute for Complex Adaptive Matter at Los Alamos National Laboratory is sponsored by the LANL Center for Nonlinear Studies and involves technical Divisions and Centers from across the Laboratory including Materials Physics Applications Division (MPA), Materials Science and Technology Division (MST), Lujan Neutron Scattering Center, National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL), and the Theoretical Division.


Established in March 1999 at Los Alamos National Laboratory, ICAM became, in April 2002, a Multidisciplinary Research Program of the University of California, with nine founding branches. In July 2004, it received an award by NSF to establish the International Institute for Complex Adaptive Matter (I2CAM) as an integral part of ICAM to continue and expand ICAM’s international scientific and educational activities. Since then ICAM-I2CAM has grown rapidly to its present constellation of branches: 31 in the US, 15 in Europe, 5 in Asia, 1 in Australia, 1 in the Middle East, 1 in South America and one European affiliate. Altogether, ICAM links 84 leading centers of complex materials research worldwide.


Many of the key challenges and opportunities in the study of matter involve understanding complex and collective phenomena. Because these challenges frequently fall at the boundaries between conventional scientific disciplines, there is an urgent need to create new kinds of thinking and institutions capable of exploiting these opportunities. At the core of this new enterprise in the study of matter is the search for an understanding of emergent behavior – phenomena whose ultimate cause involves interactions between many simple units but which cannot be easily predicted from knowledge of the component parts alone, i.e., complex adaptive matter. Because the collective phenomena of assembled systems are rarely a simple function of the well-understood properties of the pieces, an important goal is discovering the organizing principles that drive emergent behavior at given length and time scales.

It is this primary scientific philosophy that underlies the Institute for Complex Adaptive Matter, an open distributed experiment-based dynamic multi-institutional partnership whose purpose is to identify major new research themes in complex adaptive matter and to nucleate and conduct collaborative research and scientific training that links together scientists in different fields and different institutions. In so doing, ICAM draws from the chemical, physical and biological viewpoints for its research themes.

Opportunities / Support

ICAM’s integrated scientific and educational program includes exploratory workshops, symposia, fellowships, and research and educational networks. It has a well-developed communication, governance and advisory structure. Moreover, at each branch there is in turn an interdisciplinary grouping at the local level – from materials science, physics, chemistry, and biology, from theory and experiment. ICAM received early support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, the University of California Office of the President, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the Richard Lounsbery Foundation. Its current activities are supported by the National Science Foundation, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the A.P. Sloan Foundation, the Trinity Capital Corporation, and by cost sharing contributions from its branch members.

ICAM Activitites

1- Workshops and Events: If you are organizing a workshop in areas that are of interest for ICAM, such as condensed matter or biophysics, you can apply for financial support. The workshop support guidelines for applications are provided in the following ICAM website:

2-Awards: ICAM invites applications for ICAM and I2CAM junior scientist exchange awards and travel awards for research between ICAM branch member institutions.  The awards are intended to catalyze research and research collaborations on complex adaptive matter (namely soft matter, quantum matter, biological matter, and emergent materials for energy) by providing travel expenses for inter-institutional research collaborations.  Successful applicants are expected to carry out a research program at ICAM institutions and to participate actively in educational outreach. For more information see

3-Postdoctoral Fellowships: ICAM offers postdoctoral fellowships with the following criteria of eligibility:

  • Within 4 yrs post-PhD at time of award.    
  • No previous ICAM fellowship.
  • Involve 2 or more ICAM branches.  
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship Candidates may not be current PhD students of either mentor. Also, normally, may not have been PhD students of either mentor within the immediate past year.

More information about postdoctoral fellowships can be found in

To apply for one of these fellowships you need to go to


For more information about ICAM, please contact:
Cristian Batista, T-4
Robert Ecke, CNLS
Marcello Jaime, MPA-CMMS/NHMFL
Filip Ronning, MPA-CMMS

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