Contact Professor Liz Varga



  • Fellow HEA (2016)
  • PhD “The coevolution of the firm and the supply network: A complex systems perspective”, Cranfield School of Management (2009)
  • MBA, Cranfield School of Management (2002)
  • BA (Honours) in Maths and Data analysis/design, Open University (1989) 

Past experience: 

Liz Varga has expertise in trans-disciplinary research projects across infrastructure systems (energy, transport, water, waste and telecoms) via her research projects, engagements with practice and feedback from dissemination. Her skills are in creating abstractions of real-world systems, recognizing emergent phenomena and co-evolutionary effects, together with measurable systemic metrics. She leads the design of computational agent-based models which represent the dynamics of inter-connected systems. She has experience of system transitions, modelling the effects of policy, technology and innovation under different future scenarios, and analysing computational results representing economic, environmental and societal effects. She won the Cranfield University Research Award in 2014 and again in 2016. 

Current activities

Liz is Head of the Infrastructure Systems Group at Cranfield School of Management, creating evolutionary models of critical infrastructure systems embracing social, technical, economic and policy factors using various futures scenarios. She also runs the Complex Systems Research Centre.

Current collaborative research projects

  • Principal Investigator: System Transition to Digital Energy (STDE) an EPSRC-funded collaborative scoping study led by Cranfield. Its overarching goal is to create a step change in our understanding of how digitalisation will impact on the pathway to decarbonise the energy sector.
  • Co-Investigator: OPTEMIN an EPSRC-funded project started in December 2016 which is taking a whole systems approach to the optimisation of energy management in industry.
  • Co-Investigator: CryoHub, sponsored by the EC's Horizon 2020 programme, this project is investigating and extending the potential of large-scale cryogenic energy storage.
  • Co-Investigator: Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN) is a new national research hub.  Sponsored by ESRC and NERC in collaboration with DEFRA, BEIS, EA and FSA, this project is developing new ways to measure the effectiveness of domestic policies on energy, water, environment and food (the 'nexus') and how they affect wider society.
  • Co-Investigator: ENCORE  part of the EPSRC's Engineering Grand Challenges Call, this project is establishing a strategically important network in engineering complexity resilience.
  • Co-investigator and Leader of two Work-Packages: Stepping Up 3 year EPSRC-funded project started in October 2015, and focusing on big data collection and modelling of the scaling up of Water, Energy, Food Nexus innovations.

Other current initiatives

  • Various EPSRC/ESRC proposals for research are in the review process.
  • Forthcoming chapter on Mixed Methods Research in Handbook of Research Methods in Complexity Science: Theory and Application, Edward Elgar publishers.
  • Several publications in the review process, including:  "Agent schemas of upstream supply chain disruptions: a complex adaptive systems perspective"; "Micro-generation technologies and UK infrastructures: exploration of system level effects"; "On a Taxonomy of Information Sharing in Perishable Product Supply Chains".
  • Co-editor of special issue of Complexity  "Managing Complexity in Supply Networks: Control and Emergence".
  • Co-editor of special issue of Complexity "Energy and Complexity".

Recent past research projects

  • Co-investigator: International Centre for Infrastructure Futures (ICIF) EPSRC-funded project which ran June 2013 - April 2017, developing innovative business models, risk models and agent based models of interdependencies in infrastructure systems.
  • Co-investigator: European FP7 project EU-InnovatE  funded under the Sustainable Lifestyles and the Green Economy in Europe theme, 3 year project started January 2014, modelling the invasion and diffusion of sustainable user innovations using performance metrics for sustainable lifestyles in the domains of energy, transport, food and housing within sustainable scenarios (SPREAD)
  • Principal Investigator: Transforming Utilities' Conversion Points  - introducing the concept of a generic utility conversion and modelling utility interdependence in critical infrastructure.
  • Co-investigator: the Land of the MUSCos project  which modelled business models of potential Multi-Utility Service Companies.
  • All-in-One,  a feasibility analysis for supplying all services through one utility product, All-in-One examined vignettes of future integrated utility provision.
  • CASCADE  took a complex systems perspective to Smart Grids and Distributed Energy Generation; our partners at the Institute for Energy and Sustainable Development are pursuing a follow-on project AMEN.
  • ABI3L, a TSB (now Innovate UK) funded project  an agent based model for multi-modal freight transport.


Directly and indirectly, related to adaptation and critical infrastructure:

  • Government departments: DFT, DEFRA, BEIS, Environment Agency, Food Standards Agency
  • Charities: Institute for Sustainability
  • Local government: Milton Keynes City Council, Peterborough City Council
  • Firms: Arup, IBM, WPD (Western Power Distribution) 
  • National corporations: National Grid, Highways England, Network Rail.
  • Lobby/coordination groups: ARCC, UKCIP


Articles In Journals

Conference Papers

  • Chowdhury JI, Balta-Ozkan N, Goglio P, Hu Y, Varga L & McCabe L (2018) Potentials of load-shifting with renewable energy storage: An environmental and economic assessment for the UK. In: 36th USAEE/IAEE North America Conference, "Evolving Energy Realities: Adapting to What's Next", Washington, DC, 23-26 September 2018.
  • Chowdhury JI, Balta-Ozkan N, Hu Y & Varga L (2018) Factors affecting the adoption of energy efficiency in heat intensive industries: a case study of UK commercial bakeries. In: Energy Systems Conference 2018, London, 19-20 June 2018.
  • Hu Y, Balta-ozkan N, Varga L & Chowdhury JI (2018) Contemporary enlightenment on energy efficiency in industry. In: Energy Systems Conference 2018, London, 19-20 June 2018.
  • Tewari A, Varga E & Denyer D (2017) Influence of Micro Agent Behaviours on Macro Organizational Outcomes: A Study of Supply Chain Disruptions Using a Complexity Perspective. In: EURAM 2017, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, 21 June 2017.
  • Varga E & Tewari A (2017) The ability of models to predict the effects of policy decisions. In: M2D Conference on Decision Making Under Uncertainty, Exeter University, 11 July 2017.
  • Haltas I, Falconer R, Suckling J, Soutar I & Varga L (2017) Recycling water, energy and food by anaerobic digestion. In: Cranfield Science for a Circular Economy. How to tackle the Water, Energy, Food nexus, Cranfield University, 16 June 2017.
  • Punzo G, Tewari A, Butans E, Mayfield M & Varga L (2017) Resilient and complex infrastructure: conjugating opposite ends of the spectrum. In: 3rd International Conference on Urban Sustainability & Resilience, Bloomsbury, London, 13-14 June 2017.
  • Grafius D, Varga L & Jude S (2017) Infrastructure: opportunities from interdependencies. In: 3rd International Conference on Urban Sustainability & Resilience, Bloomsbury, London, 13-14 June 2017.
  • Hills D & Varga L (2017) Developing capacity to cope with complexity in evaluation. In: UKES 2017 Annual Evaluation Conference: The Use and Usability of Evaluation, London, 10-11 May 2017.
  • Gilmour D, Falconer R & Varga L (2017) Decision Support Tools for understanding and managing the Water Energy Food Nexus. In: IWRA XVI World Water Congress, Cancun, 29 May - 3 June 2017.
  • Varga L, Grafius D & Jude S (2017) Interdependencies: a Janusian notion. In: Infrastructure Grand Challenges: Exhibition and Networking Forum, Institute of Civil Engineers, London, 21 February 2017.
  • Falconer R, Haltas I, Gilmour D & Varga L. (2017) Decision Making Tools: computational modelling and interactive visualisation. In: Royal Statistical Society (RSS) 2017 International Conference, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, 4-7 September 2017.
  • Grafius D, Varga L & Jude S (2017) Infrastructure Interdependencies: opportunities from complexity. In: Valuing Infrastructure Conference: Valuing the Infrastructure of Cities, Regions and Nations, Leeds, 26-27 April 2017.
  • Varga L, Torjai L, Allen P & Reefke H (2016) Sustainable urban transport: complex systems evaluation. In: The 2016 Conference on Complex Systems, Amsterdam, 19 September 2016.
  • Tewari A & Varga L (2016) Mechanism of supply chain resilience and vulnerability. In: EURAM, 2016, Universite Paris est Creteil, Paris, 1-4 June 2016.
  • Tewari A & Varga L (2016) Agents and Schemas: A study of upstream supply chain disruptions. In: 23rd EurOMA Conference, 2016, Trondheim, 17-22 June 2016.
  • Falconer R & Varga L (2016) Models and Decision Support Tools for understanding and managing the WEF NEXUS. In: RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016, London, 30 August - 2 September 2016.
  • Varga L & Falconer R (2016) Methods to learn about WEF Nexus challenges. In: RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016, London, 30 August - 2 September 2016.
  • Varga L, Butans E & Robinson M (2015) Self-organised mobility. In: 15th International Conference on Technology, Policy and Innovation, Milton Keynes, 17 June 2015.
  • Varga L, Robinson M & Butans E (2015) Telecommunication systems dependencies on energy. In: International Symposium for Next Generation Infrastructure 2015, Washington, DC, 14 September 2015.
  • Despande A, Varga L & Whalley J (2015) A high-level analysis of technical and functional choices for modelling the communications industry with a complexity science-based approach. In: 26th European Regional Conference of the International Telecommunications Society, San Lorenzo de el Escorial, 24 June 2015.
  • Varga L, Robinson M & Butans E (2015) Telecoms infrastructure resilience: an agent based model of UK domestic voice services and interdependence with energy. In: CCS15, Pheonix, Arizona, 28 September - 2 October 2015.
  • Varga L & Harris J (2014) Adaptation and resilience of interdependent infrastructure systems: A complex systems perspective. In: International Symposium for Next Generation Infrastructure 2014, Vienna, 30 September 2014.
  • Gonzalez de Durana J, Rey R, Barambones O, Tewari A, Varga L & Kremers E (2014) Agent-based modelling of the energy network for hybrid cars. In: Energy Systems Conference, London, 24 June 2014.
  • Varga L & Ilin T (2014) Modeling sustainable user innovations. In: Sustainable Marketing Conference, Cranfield, 11-12 February 2014.
  • Varga L (2014) The future of national infrastructure systems and economic prosperity. In: Infrastructure, Growth and Sustainable Living ITRC Conference, Cambridge, 27 March 2014.
  • Ilin T & Varga L (2014) The Uncertainty of Systemic Risk. In: European Business and Economics Society (EBES) Conference, Barcelona, 23-25 October 2014.
  • Toossi A, Camci F & Varga L (2013) Developing an AHP based decision model for energy systems policy making. In: 2013 IEEE International Conference on Industrial Technology (ICIT), Cape Town, 25-28 February 2013.
  • Varga L, Allen P & Varga S (2013) Business model modelling: co-evolutionary competition in utility services. In: ECCS'13, Barcelona, 16 September 2013.
  • Gonzalez de Durana J, Barambones J, Kremers E & Varga L (2013) Agent based modelling of local energy networks as instances of Complex Infrastructure Systems. In: ECCS'13, Barcelona, 16 September 2013.
  • Varga & L (2013) Action in 8 domains for an 8 factor improvement: infrastructure with agency. In: International Symposium for Next Generation Infrastructure, Wollongong, 1 October 2013.
  • Varga L, Grubic T, Greening P & Varga S (2012) Critical Infrastructure and Social Systems Coevolution. In: Complexity Science and Social Science at the Interface to the Real World, Newport Pagnell, 24 September 2012.
  • Varga L, Greening P, Fletcher G, Varga S & Griffiths M (2012) Agent based freight logistics - intelligent, integrated and innovative policy making. In: European Conference on Complex Systems 2012, (ECCS'12), Brussels, 3 September 2012.
  • Varga L, Knoeri C, Steinberger JK, Roelich K & Varga S (2012) Modelling transitions towards resource-efficient and service-oriented infrastructure operation. In: Agent-based models and complex techno-social systems, Zurich, 2 July 2012.
  • Varga L (2012) Complexity Science and Energy. In: UKERC: Energy and Complexity: The Way Forward, Oxford, 5 July 2012.
  • Knoeri C, Steinberger JK, Roelich K & Varga L (2012) Resource-efficient and service-oriented infrastructure operation: towards MUSCos: Multi-Service Utility Companies. In: The Role of Industrial Ecology in Addressing Sustainability Imperatives, Les Diablerets, 17 June 2012.
  • Varga L, Camci F, Boxall J, Toossi A, Machell J, Blythe P & Taylor C (2012) Transforming Critical Infrastructure: Matching the Complexity of the Environment to Policy. In: European Conference on Complex Systems 2012, (ECCS'12), Brussels, 3 September 2012.
  • Camci F, Ulanicki B, Boxall J, Chitchyan R & Varga L (2011) Energy and Utilities Infrastructure: Can All be in One. In: UKERC Energy and People: Futures, Complexity and Challenges, Oxford, 20 September 2011.
  • Varga L, Boxall J, Blythe P, Taylor C & Camci F (2011) Integrated energy services not silo'd energy utilities. In: Energy and People: Futures, Complexity and Challenges, Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford, 20 September 2011.
  • Varga L (2010) Understanding Energy Sustainability: A Complex Systems Perspective. In: 1st International Workshop on Complexity and Real World Applications: Using the Tools and Concepts from the Complexity Sciences to Support Real World Decision-making Activities, Southampton, 21 July 2010.
  • Varga L (2010) Policy Making for Smart Grids. In: European Conference on Complex Systems (ECCS), Lisbon University Institute, 12 September 2010.
  • Varga L (2010) Engineering of Emergence for a Low Carbon Economy. In: EmergeNET4 Conference: Engineering Emergence, University of York, York, 19 April 2010.
  • Varga L, Allen PM & Strathern M (2010) Modeling the Growth of Distributed Energy Generation: Part I the approach. In: European Conference on Complex Systems (ECCS), Lisbon University Institute, 12 September 2010.
  • Varga L (2009) Aerospace Manufacturing. In: ESRC Complex System Research Seminar Series: Seminar 3 - Modelling for Policy Decisions, Cranfield, 10 June 2009.
  • Varga L, Allen P, Strathern M, Rose-Anderssen C, Baldwin J & Ridgway K (2009) Towards Policy for Firm and Supply Network Coevolution: a Study of Commercial Aerospace Manufacturing. In: ECCS09, Coventry.
  • Varga L (2008) A Coevolutionary Perspective on Supply Networks. In: Cranfield Multi-Strand Conference "Creating Wealth Through Research and Innovation", Cranfield.
  • Varga L, Allen P, Strathern M, Rose-Anderssen C, Baldwin J & Ridgway K (2008) An Ecological Perspective on Supply Networks. In: 4th Organization Studies Workshop, Cyprus.
  • Varga L (2008) A Typology for Corporate Responsibility: Profitable and Sustainable. In: EABIS Colloquium 2008, Cranfield.
  • Varga L (2007) Repertory Grid in Organization Studies. In: People And Science: Sharing Methodological Insights, cross-University conference, Cranfield.
  • Allen PM & Varga L (2006) Social and Economic Complexity: the co-evolution of Reality, Knowledge and Values. In: European Conference on Complex Systems (ECCS) 2006, University of Oxford, 25 September 2006.
  • Varga L, Allen P, Strathern M, Baldwin J & Rose-Anderssen C (2006) Complexity and the evolution of supply chain structures. In: EIASM Workshop on Complexity and Management, 2006, Oxford, 19 June 2003.
  • Varga L (2005) Inter-connectivity in organization: conflictual diversity as a measure of evolution. In: Complexity, Science and Society Conference, Liverpool.
  • Varga E (2004) A case study of the largest aerospace manufacturing organisations: an exploration of organisational strategy, innovation and evolution. In: Organisations, Innovation and Complexity: New Perspectives on the Knowledge Economy Conference, Manchester.


  • Varga L. (2018) Mixed methods research: a method for complex systems. In: Handbook of Research Methods in Complexity Science Theory and Applications, Edward Elgar, p. 545-566.
  • Varga L (2014) Complexity Science: The Integrator. In: The Social Face of Complexity Science, Litchfield Park, AZ: Emergent Publications, p. 11-26.
  • Allen Peter, Strathern Mark, Varga & Elizabeth (2010) Complexity: The Evolution of Identity and Diversity. In: Complexity, Difference and Identity. Cilliers Paul, Preiser Rika (ed.), Heidelberg London New York: Springer, p. 41-60.