Staniczenko, P.P.

Staniczenko, Phillip P.A.

Academic Appointments

Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Brooklyn College, The City University of New York
Faculty, Program in Biology, Subprogram in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior (EEB), The Graduate Center, The City University of New York


D.Phil. (Condensed Matter Physics), University of Oxford
M.Phys (Physics), University of Oxford

Research Focus

My lab develops mathematical and computational techniques for analyzing data produced by complex systems. Typically, the complex systems I study are ecological: insect pollination, pest control, decision-making by subsistence fishers; where I work closely with field ecologists and social scientists to identify the impacts of environmental change on ecosystems and the consequences for local communities. At BCCC-CURE, I collaborate in research teams to find new ways of analyzing cancer-related data at all scales, from the cellular to the social.

My area of expertise is complex networks, which is a mathematical formalism that represents objects (e.g., species) as nodes and interactions between nodes (e.g., feeding, competition) as edges. Although conceptually simple, time and time again, studies of network structure—the pattern of edges among nodes—have led to breakthroughs in understanding the behavior and trajectory of complex systems.

Many aspects of cancer research can be represented as networks. Two of the most promising are protein-protein interaction (PPI) networks and social networks. PPI networks—in which nodes are proteins and edges are complementary binding sites or interfaces—provide a global picture of cellular function and biological processes. Irregularities seen in PPI networks can be indicative of diseases, including cancer. By analyzing the structure of large PPI networks constructed from big data, researchers can identify which cancer-related protein interfaces are candidates for more detailed study.

Social networks document the relationships among individuals (e.g., patients, friends, doctors) and institutions (e.g., hospitals, support groups). Most of these relationships may, on first glance, be considered suitable only for qualitative analysis, but quantitative methods do in fact exist to study, for example, how social relationships might impact cancer-related outcomes. Indeed, combining qualitative and quantitative methods will lead to more reliable answers to questions such as: is a person who has strong and diverse relationships with healthcare providers and support systems more likely to have better health outcomes than individuals with fewer relationships?

Cancer is complex and difficult to understand and treat. Doing so requires methods and expertise from a wide range of disciplines. Please reach out to me if you would like to collaborate.

Selected Publications

Losapio, G., Schöb, C., Staniczenko, P.P.A., Carrara, F., Palamara, G.M., De Moraes, C.M., Mescher, M.C., Brooker, R.W., Butterfield, B.J., Callaway, R.M., Cavieres, L.A., Kikvidze, Z., Lortie, C.J., Michalet, R., Pugnaire, F.I. & Bascompte, J. (2021). Network motifs involving both competition and facilitation predict biodiversity in alpine plant communities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 118, e2005759118.

Timm, C.M., Loomis, K., Stone, W., Mehoke, T., Brensinger, B., Pellicore, M., Staniczenko, P.P.A., Charles, C., Nayak, S. & Karig, D. (2020). Isolation and characterization of diverse microbial representatives from the human skin microbiome. Microbiome, 8, 58.

Alexander*, S.M., Staniczenko*, P.P.A. & Bodin, Ö. (2020). *Joint first authors. Social ties explain catch portfolios of small-scale fishers in the Caribbean. Fish & Fisheries, 21, 120–131.

Baldock, K.C.R., Goddard, M.A., Hicks, D.M., Kunin, W.E., Mitschunas, N., Morse, H., Osgathorpe, L.M., Potts, S.G., Robertson, K.M., Scott, A.V., Staniczenko, P.P.A., Stone, G.N., Vaughan, I.P. & Memmott, J. (2019). A systems approach reveals urban pollinator hotspots and conservation opportunities. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 3, 363–373.

Staniczenko, P.P.A., Kopp, J.C. & Allesina, S. (2013). The ghost of nestedness in ecological networks. Nature Communications, 4, 1931.

Grants over the last 5 years

P.P.A. Staniczenko, PI. Faculty Fellowship Publication Program (FFPP) award, “Reckless Ideas in Ecological Networks,” $4k (2020–2021).

P.P.A. Staniczenko, PI. Santa Fe Institute Working Group, “Next-generation ecological network theory and application,” $20k (2018).

P.P.A. Staniczenko, PI. National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) Research Fellowship, “Predicting the effect of socioeconomic and environmental change on the structure of biotic interactions and the provision of ecosystem services,” $215k (2016–2018).