Crawford School of Public Policy


Sustainable Stand Up Canberra - Steven Lade


Crawford School of Public Policy
Researcher at the Stockholm Resilience Centre

Steve Lade is a researcher focusing on social-ecological system modelling, planetary boundaries, and poverty traps

Utilising his background in theoretical physics, Lade’s research at the Stockholm Resilience Centre applies theoretical modelling tools, such as dynamical systems theory and network theory, to the study of social-ecological systems. Currently he holds a FORMAS grant to investigate interactions between the planetary boundaries, focusing initially on the feedbacks between biodiversity (biosphere integrity) and climate change.

Other research interests include extending economic poverty trap models to better take into account the complex cultural and biophysical settings in which poverty occurs and the diversity of alleviation strategies that are used to alleviate poverty. Previously, Lade modelled the social-ecological dynamics of Baltic Sea fisheries.

Lade holds a PhD in theoretical physics from the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. Previous positions include: a postdoctoral position at the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems in Dresden, Germany; and a guest affiliation as Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow at NORDITA, the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics.

Awards and achievements:

  • Developed a dynamic social-ecological model of an empirical case, the Baltic Sea fishery
  • Contributed to fundamental theory on the consequences of coupling between social and ecological systems on regime shifts
  • Extended conventional poverty trap models, with the intention of triggering a step change in research and policy on poverty and its alleviation
  • Used a feedback model to highlight the importance of biodiversity in climate change mitigation
  • Developed a new generic early warning signal for critical transitions
  • Analysed multistability in human cognition (intertemporal choice)


(2012-) Researcher, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University

(2015-) Honorary Senior Lecturer, Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University

E-mail: steven.lade (-at-); steven.lade (-at-)


(2012-2015) Visiting postdoctoral fellow (external position), Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics (NORDITA)

(2010-2012) Postdoctoral researcher ('guest scientist'), Dynamics of Biological Networks group and Department of Biological Physics, Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems. Dresden, Germany

(2007-2010) PhD (physics). Thesis: Directed transport without net bias in physics and biology. Nonlinear Physics Centre, Research School of Physics and Engineering, The Australian National University. Canberra, Australia. Awarded 2011.

(2006) Project engineer/physicist. Ecotech Pty Ltd. Melbourne, Australia

(2000-2005) BSc(Hons)/BE(Hons). Monash University. Melbourne, Australia. Awarded 2006.

(2005) Exchange student (space engineering). Luleå University of Technology. Luleå and Kiruna, Sweden

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