The Jones Lab at Rice University takes a systems approach to nanoparticle assembly – in addition to understanding assembled materials as a function of their constituent parts (e.g. nanoparticles, ligands, atoms), we also consider the influence of collective properties and higher-order effects (e.g. dimensionality, curvature, particle interactions). These systems-level phenomena allow for the creation of new forms of inorganic matter that are structurally reconfigurable, experience positive and negative feedback, and are constantly evolving over time in response to external stimuli. This holistic and hierarchical approach requires the application of advanced chemical methods for controlling nanoparticle size, shape, composition, surface functionality, interaction potential, and geometric environment while simultaneously addressing fundamental questions about the symmetry, topology, and out-of-equilibrium dynamics of assembled nanometer-scale systems. Through these insights we design adaptive materials with unique optical and mechanical properties with potential impact in the fields of metamaterials, energy storage, and biology.