Steen Rasmussen

Contact & Personal

Fundamental Living Technology (FLinT)
Department for Physics & Chemistry
University of Southern Denmark
External Research Professor
Santa Fe Institute
New Mexico USA
+45 6550 2507 (lab)
4436 (sec)



After his postdoc at the Technical University of Denmark he joint Los Alamos National Laboratory and Santa Fe Institute August 1988. During his 20 years in New Mexico, USA (1988-2007, Alien of Extraordinary Abilities) he has developed and contributed to a variety of interdisciplinary research programs and projects.

He was one of the founders of the Artificial Life field in the late 1980s, which he has engaged with ever since. At Los Alamos he was part of many interdisciplinary projects including the Human Genome, Transportation Simulation, Urban Security, Disaster Mitigation, and Distributed Satellite Communication. In the early 90s he co-developed the Transportation Simulation System (TRANSIMS), which was implemented by the US Department of Transportation. In the mid 1990s he co-directed the Urban Security Initiative at Los Alamos, developing an integrated simulation framework for urban systems as well as web-based disaster mitigation tools, which were implemented in Cerro Grande Wildfire May 2000 where 20.000 people were evacuated. He was also part of the original Los Alamos team on Critical Infrastructure Protection, now implemented by the US Department of Homeland Security. 

He became the Scientific Team Leader of the Los Alamos Self-Organizing Systems (SOS) team in 2002. He was leading the Los Alamos Protocell Assembly (LDRD-DR) project and the Astrobiology program (origins of life) at Los Alamos (2003-5), developing experimental and computational protocells and Cell-Like Entities with USAF as a co-sponsor. Further, he was the Co-Director of the EC sponsored Programmable Artificial Cell Evolution (PACE) project (2004-8) and a Guest Professor at University of Copenhagen (2004-5).

Late 2007 he returned to Denmark as founder and Director of the Center for Fundamental Living Technology (FLinT) at University of Southern Denmark (SDU). The main scientific effort of Prof. Rasmussen over the last 15 years has been to explore, understand and construct transitions from nonliving to living materials. Creating minimal life requires an interdisciplinary scientific effort, which is why he assembled, sponsored, and lead research teams in the US, across Europe and in Denmark. In the last few years he has also assembled interdisciplinary scientific teams to explore the technological and societal transition spearheaded by digitization followed by living and intelligent technologies. He has extensive experience in architecting new scientific ideas and assembling research teams to pursue these ideas.

In 2009 he founded the Initiative for Science Society and Policy (ISSP). Together with Santa Fe Institute (SFI) and the European Center for Living Technology (ECLT) these organizations allow Prof. Rasmussen to pursue his scientific interests in the physics behind living and life-like processes as well as how technologies based on living and intelligent processes both change our societies and what it means to be human. He is frequently an invited national and international science policy advisor and he is actively engaged in the public discourse about science, society and citizens. 

Professor Rasmussen has published 112 peer reviewed science papers (incl. Science, Nature & PNAS) and given 200+ invited presentations at international meetings and seminars with 100+ the last 10 years. Many communications about his work inside and outside of the scientific establishment have appeared on television, radio, web as well as in newspapers, periodicals, and books, including cover stories at Wall Street Journal and Chicago Tribune as well as programs on National Geographic and NOVA. Since 2000 he has sponsored 12 postdocs (theorists and experimentalists) and 29 graduate and undergraduate students. 

Formal education

Ph.D., (Physics) Technical University of Denmark (TUD) 1985.
M.Sc., (Physics & Physical Chemistry) Technical University of Denmark (TUD) 1982. Philosophy studies at University of Copenhagen 1978-1981.

Scientific employment

Nov 2007 - today,  Center Leader Fundamental Living Technology & Research Director, SDU.

Aug 2004 - May 2005, Guest Professor Molecular Biochemistry and Genetics, University of Copenhagen.

May 2004 - today,  External Research Professor, Santa Fe Institute (SFI).

Oct 2002 - Oct 2007, Team Leader Self-Organizing Systems, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

Feb 1997 - Sep 2002, Staff Scientist, Earth and Environmental Science, LANL.

Nov 1992 - Jan 1997, Staff Scientist, Simulation Applications, LANL.

Oct 1991 - Oct 1992, Staff Scientist, Theoretical Division, LANL.

Sep 1988 - Apr 2004, Part time Researcher in Residence Santa Fe Institute (SFI)

Sep 1988 - Aug 1991, Postdoc, Center for Nonlinear Studies, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

Nov 1985 - Aug 1988, Postdoc, Physics Laboratory, Technical University of Denmark.

Selected Awards & Honours

2009 Top-5 Scientific Break-Through in Denmark. Rasmussen, Maurer & Monnard.

2005 Top-5 World Technology Network Reward, Biotechnical Category: Protocell Design.

2004 Los Alamos Achievements Awards for Excellence: Simulation of Critical Infrastructures.

2004 Los Alamos Achievements Awards for Excellence: Protocell Design.

2000 Los Alamos Cerro Grande Wildfire Awards: Web-based disaster mitigation, People finder database.

1988 P. Gorm-Petersens Mindelegat, in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen, Magrethe II of Denmark.

Selected Research Funding

Prof. Rasmussen has since 2003 brought in about $39M in competitive research grants (as PI: $17M and as Co-PI: $22M) to his home institutions and his international research consortia.

2013 – 2017 Local PI, SYNENERGENE (FP7-SiS.2012.1.2.2-1-318671) – Mobilisation and mutual learning action plans (3.961M Euro)

2012 – 2015 Local PI, MICREAGENTS (FP7-ICT-8-9.6-FET Proactive: Unconventional Computing-318671) Microscale Chemically Reactive Electronic Agents (3.400M Euro)

2012 – 2015 Local PI, TRUCE (FP7-ICT-2011-8-CSA-318235) Training and Research in Unconventional Computing in Europe (500K Euro)

2010 – 2013 COBRA (FP7-ICT-2009-6-270371) - Coordination of Biological and Chemical Research Activities (485K Euro) 2010 – 2013 PI, MATCHIT (FP7-ICT-2009-4-249032) Matrix for Chemical IT (2.770M Euro)

2008 - 2011 Local PI and Coordination Committee, ECCell (FP7-ICT-2007-8-222422) – Electronical Chemical Cell (2.000M Euro) 2009 PI, Danish Center for Scientific Computing: DCSC-grant for High Performance Computing Research Infrastructure Hardware (135K Euro)

2008 PI, Danish Center for Scientific Computing: DCSC-grant for High Performance Computing Research Infrastructure Hardware (335K Euro)

2009 – 2018 PI, University of Southern Denmark & Roskilde University: Initiative for Science, Society and Policy (675K Euro for startup) Since 2012 sponsored by two Danish Universities, currently ~ 80K Euro/year (480K Euro).

2009 PI, University of Southern Denmark: The vice-chancellors seed-money (40K Euro)

2007 – 2013 Director, The Danish National Research Foundation & University of Southern Denmark Center for Fundamental Living Technology (FLinT) (5.380M Euro)

2004 – 2007 PI, Los Alamos, Protocell Assembly, LDRD-DR, ($5M ~ 4.440M Euro)

2004 – 2008 Local PI & Coordination Committee PACE (FP6-ICT) – Programmable Artificial Cell Evolution (6.700M Euro + additional 900K Euro from Switzerland)

2004 – 2005 PI, US Air Force, Cell-Like Entities ($25K ~ 22.2K Euro)

2003 – 2005 Co-PI, Water on Mars, LDRD-DR, Los Alamos ($2.4M ~ 2.133M Euro)

Recent International and National Science Policy and Management

Prof. Rasmussen has in recent years been invited to consult on science and technology issues for the European Commission, the Danish Parliament, the German Reichstag and the US Congress.

Details include: Science Road mappings for the US DOE, NASA, and the NIH, 2001-8. Whitepaper development, European Commission (EC), Future Emergent Technology (FET) 2007-11. Elected Danish National expert panel for EC’s Nanoscience, Materials and Processes, 2009-13. Elected synthetic biology expert for the National Technology Council (Teknologirådet), 2010-11. 2012 Invited council to the Chair of the Armed Forces Committee on Science and Engineering at the National Laboratories in the US Congress, Washington D.C (2012). 2013 Elected National expert, Danish Center for Bio-security & Bio- preparedness (CBB) on synthetic biology issues. 2013 Elected Danish National Expert Panel for EC’s Information and communication technologies. 2013-15 Elected high level Advisor for the EC FET office, Brussels. 2014 Invited Expert on Synthetic biology, consumer protection and food safety, German Reichstag.

Selected scientific papers

112 peer reviewed science papers

S. Rasmussen, A. Constantinescu & C. Svaneborg (2016) Generating minimal living systems from nonliving materials and increasing their evolutionary abilities, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 20150440

K. Ikari, Y. Sakuma, T. Jimbo, A. Kodama, M. Imai, P. Monnard & S. Rasmussen, Dynamics of fatty acid vesicles in response to pH stimuli, Soft Matter (2015) 10.1039 / C5SM01248A

S. Tanaka, H. Fellermann & S. Rasmussen, Structure and selection in an autocatalytic binary polymer model, Eur. Phys. Let. 107 (2014) 0.1209/0295-5075/107/ 28004 (editors choice)

Fellermann, H. & Rasmussen, S., On the Growth Rate of Non-Enzymatic Molecular Replicators, Entropy 13(10), (2011) 1882-1903

Porcar, M.; Danchin, A.; de Lorenzo, V.; dos Santos, V.; Krasnogor, N.; Rasmussen; S. & Moya, A., The Ten Grand Challenges of Synthetic Life, Systems and Synthetic Biology, 5 (1-2), pp 1-9, SpringerLink. (2011)

S. Rasmussen, Bottom up is more telling, Nature vol. 465 (2010)

S. Rasmussen, Life after the Synthetic Cell, Nature, vol. 465 (7297) (2010) 422

Bedau, M.; McCaskill, J., Packard, N. & Rasmussen, S., Living Technology: Exploiting life´s principles in technolog, Artificial Life, Vol. 16, no. 1, pp 89-97, (2009)

DeClue, M.S.; Monnard, P.-A.; Bailey, J.; Maurer, S.E.; Collins, G.E.; Ziock, H.J. & Rasmussen, S, Nucleobase Mediated, Photocatalytic Vesicle Formation from Ester Precursor Molecules, Journal of American Chemical Socity, Vol. 131, 3, (2009) 931-933

T. Rouchelau, S. Rasmussen, P. Nielsen, M. Jacobi, and H. Ziock, Emergence of protocellular growth laws, Phil. Trans. R. Soc B 362 (2007) 1841

A. Munteanu, C. Attolini, S. Rasmussen, H. Ziock, and R. Solé, Generic Darwinian selection in catalytic protocell assemblies, Phil. Trans. R. Soc B 362 (2007) 1848

J. McCaskill, N. Packard, S. Rasmussen, and M. Bedau, Evolutionary self-organization in complex fluids, Phil. Trans. R. Soc B 362 (2007) 1881

P. Ehrenfreund, S. Rasmussen, J. Cleaves, and L. Chen, Experimentally tracking the key steps in the origins of life: The Aromatic World, Astrobiology 6 (2006) 490

S. Rasmussen, M. Bedau, L. Chen, D. Deamer, D. Krakauer, N. Packard, & P. Stadler, Living and nonliving matter, Science (letters) 305 (2004) 41-43

S. Rasmussen, L. Chen, B. Stadler, and P. Stadler, Proto-organism kinetics, Origins Life & Evol. Biosph., 34 (2004) 171

S. Rasmussen, L. Chen, D. Deamer, D. Krakauer, N. Packard, P. Stadler, & M.Bedau, Transitions from nonliving to living matter, Science 303 (2004) 963

S. Colgate, S. Rasmussen, J. Solem, and K. Lackner, An astrophysical basis for a universal origin of life, Adv. Complex Sys., 6 (2003) 1

S. Rasmussen, L. Chen, M. Nilsson, and S. Abe, Bridging nonliving and living matter, Artificial Life, 9 (2003) 269

S. Rasmussen, M. Raven, G. Keating, and M. Bedau, Collective intelligence of the artificial life community on its own successes, failures, and future, Artificial Life, 9 (2003) 207

D. Yamins, S. Rasmussen, and D. Fogel, Growing urban roads, Networks and Spatial Economics, 3 (2003) 69

C. Andersson, K. Lindgren, S. Rasmussen, and R. White, Urban growth from "first principles", Phys Rev E, 66 (2002) 026204

C. Andersson, S. Rasmussen, and R. White, Urban settlement transitions, Env. & Planning B 29 (2002) 841

S. Rasmussen, N. Baas, M. Olesen, B. Meyer, and M. Nilsson, Ansatz for dynamical hierarchies, Artificial Life, 7 (2001) 329

M. Bedau, J. McCaskill, N. Packard, S. Rasmussen, C. Adami, D. Green, T. Ikegami, K. Kaneko, and T. Ray, Open problems in artificial life, Artificial Life 6 (2000) 363

B. Mayer and S. Rasmussen, Dynamics and simulation of self-reproducing micelles, Int. J. of Modern Phys. C 11 (2000) 809

G. Heiken, G.A. Valentine, M. Brown, S. Rasmussen, D. George, R. Greene, E. Jones, K. Olsen, C. Andersson, Modeling Cities - The Los Alamos Urban Security Initiative, Journal of Public Works Management and Policy 4 (2000) 198

B. Mayer, G. Koehler, and S. Rasmussen, Simulation and Dynamics of Entropy Driven, Molecular Self-Assembly Processes, Physical Review E 55 (1997) 4489-4499

T.T. Puck, R. Johnson, and S. Rasmussen, A system for mutation measurement in mammalian cells: Application to gamma-irradiation, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 94 (1997) 1218

K. Nagel and S. Rasmussen, Traffic at the edge of chaos, Artificial Life IV, Ed. R.A. Brooks and P. Maes, MIT Press (1994) 222

R. Feldberg, C. Knudsen, S. Rasmussen, Recursive definition of global cellular automata mappings, Phys. Rev. E 49 (1994) 1699

H. Hotani, R. Lahoz-Beltra, B. Combs, S. Hameroff, S. Rasmussen, Liposomes, Microtubules, and Artificial Cells; Nanobiology 1 (1992) 61

S. Rasmussen, Aspects of Information, Life, Reality, and Physics, Artificial Life II, SFI Studies in the Sciences of Complexity, Vol. X, Ed. C. Langton, et al., Addison-Wesley, 1991, 767

S. Rasmussen, C. Knudsen, R. Feldberg, and M. Hindsholm, The Coreworld: Emergence and Evolution of Cooperative Structures in a Computational Chemistry, Physica D 42 (1990) 11

S. Rasmussen, H. Karampurwala, R. Vaidyanath, K. Jensen, and S. Hameroff, Computational Connectionism within Neurons: A Model of Cytoskeletal Automata Subserving Neural Networks, Physica D 42 (1990) 428

B. Bollobas and S. Rasmussen, First Cycles in Random Directed Graph Processes, Discrete Math., 75 (1989) 55

S. Rasmussen, Toward a Quantitative Theory of the Origin of Life, In: Artificial Life, Ed. C. Langton, Addison-Wesley, (1989) 79

S. Rasmussen, J. Holst, and E. Mosekilde, Empirical Indicators of Economic Long Waves in Aggregate Production, European Journal of Operational Research, 42 (1989) 279

E. Mosekilde and S. Rasmussen, Technical Economic Succession and the Economic Long Wave, Solicited paper, European Journal of Operational Research, 25 (1986) 27

S. Rasmussen, E. Mosekilde, and J. D. Sterman, Bifurcations and Chaotic Behavior in a Simple Model of he Economic Long Wave, System Dynamics Review, 1 (1985) 92.

Selected edited and authored books

L. Andersen & S. Rasmussen, What practical policy ought to focus on, ISSP Press, 2015 (book Danish)

Living technology: 5 Questions, eds. Bedau, M.; Hansen, P.G.; Parke, E. & Rasmussen, S., Automatic Press / VIP. p 236, 2010

Fellermann, H.; Dörr, M.; Hanczyc, M.M.; Laursen, L. L.; Merkle, D.; Monnard, P.-A.; Støy, K. & Rasmussen, S., eds, Proceedings of the 12th Int. conf. on synthesis and simulation of artificial life, Eds. Fellermann, H., MIT Press, 2010

S. Rasmussen, M. Bedau, L. Chen, D. Krakauer, N. Packard, and P. Stadler, eds., Protocells: Transitions from nonliving to living matter, eds., MIT Press Book, November 2008 (First comprehensive book on state of the art in protocell research)

Towards the Artificial Cell (theme issue). Solé, R. V.; Bedau, M. A. & Rasmussen, S., Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences; vol. 362, 1486; 1725-1925 (2007)

Selected public service communications

Tomorrows technology will lead to sweeping changes in society, Andersen & Rasmussen, The Conversation, Feb. 12, 2015

5 articles on Technology driven society changes, Andersen & Rasmussen,, 2015

The living technologies and the life lived, Kunst og Videnskab, Documentary movie (30 mins), January 16, 2012

Can a Simple Model Explain the Advent of Cells? Science Now, January 7, 2011

Naked Science: Finding the Origin of Life. National Geographic Channel (Europe), Sept. 19, 2010

Sizing up the synthetic cell, Nature News, May 20, 2010

Konkurrenz für Gott. Der Spiegel (cover story), Germany, January 4, 2010

Public lecture, Am. Ass. Adv. of Sci. (AAAS), Washington D.C., Dec. 1, 2005

Life from dust, NOVA, US Public Broadcasting Services (television), Oct. 18, 2005

Researchers seek to create a living cell, Wall Street Journal (cover story), April 2, 2004

Science on the verge of "creation", Chicago Tribune (cover story), March 28, 2004

Predicting the future of urban sprawl, US Public Broadcasting Services (Radio), August 26, 2002

The next disaster, where IT's at, Wired Magazine, May 23, 2000

Playing God: The making of artificial life, Discover Magazine, August issue, 1992