About

People

Directorate

Dr. Lilian Alessa, University of Idaho President’s Professor of Resilient Landscapes in the Landscape Architecture program, is also Co-Director of the University of Idaho Center for Resilient Communities. She conducts extensive research on human adaptation to environmental change through resilient design at landscape scales. Much of her work is funded by the National Science Foundation, including projects awarded the Arctic Observing Network, Intersections of Food, Energy and Water Systems (INFEWS) and the Dynamics of Coupled Natural Human Systems programs. Canadian-born and raised, Alessa received her degrees from the University of British Columbia. She also uses her expertise is in social-ecological and technological systems science to develop ways to improve domestic resource security for community well-being, particularly through the incorporation of place-based knowledge. Her work through the Department of Homeland Security’s Center of Excellence, the Arctic Domain Awareness Center, involves developing social-technological methods to monitor and respond to critical environmental changes. Lil is a member of the National Science Foundation’s Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education and is on the Science, Technology and Education Advisory Committee for the National Ecological Observing Network (NEON). Professor Alessa also teaches a university landscape architecture capstone course: Resilient Landscapes with Professor Andrew Kliskey. Professor Alessa’s collaborative grant activity with Professor Andrew Kliskey, since coming to the university in 2013, exceeds 7 million USD to date. She has authored over a 100 publications and reports and has led the development of 2 federal climate resilience toolbox assessments, the Arctic Water Resources Vulnerability Index (AWRVI) and the Arctic Adaptation Exchange Portal (AAEP).

My interests center around long-term human ecology and landscape dynamics with ongoing projects in the Mediterranean (late Pleistocene through mid-Holocene) and recent work in the American Southwest (Holocene-Archaic). I’ve done fieldwork in Spain, Bosnia, and various locales in North America and have expertise in hunter/gatherer and early farming societies, geoarchaeology, lithic technology, and evolutionary theory, with an emphasis on human/environmental interaction, landscape dynamics, and techno-economic change.

Quantitative methods are critical to archaeological research, and socioecological sciences in general. They are an important focus of my research, especially emphasizing dynamic modeling, spatial technologies (including GIS and remote sensing), statistical analysis, and visualization. I am a member of the open source GRASS GIS international development team that is making cutting edge spatial technologies available to researchers and students around the world.

Ken Buetow is a human genetics and genomics researcher who leverages computational tools to understand complex traits such as cancer, liver disease, and obesity. He currently serves as director of Computational Sciences and Informatics program for Complex Adaptive Systems at Arizona State University (CAS@ASU), is a professor in the School of Life Sciences in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; is a core faculty in the Center for Evolution and Medicine in the Biodesign Institute at ASU; and is director of bioinformatics and data management for the National Biomarker Development Alliance.

Professor Buetow previously served as the Founding Director of the Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information Technology within the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute.

I am a Professor in the School of Sustainability and the Director of the Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment. I want to understand how people solve collective problems at different levels of scale, especially those problems related to sustainability of our environment. Our society experience unprecedented challenged to sustain common resource for future generations at a scale we have never experienced before. What makes groups cooperate? What is the role of information? How does the ecological context affect the social fabric? How do they deal with a changing environment? How can we use these insight to address global challenges? To do this research I combine behavioral experiments, agent-based modeling and case study analysis.

I am a computer scientist by training and full stack software engineer / systems administrator and have been building cyberinfrastructure for computational social science at ASU since 2006; these projects include the Digital Archaeological Record, the Virtual Commons, the Social Ecological Systems Library, and CoMSES Net, where I serve as a co-director.

I’m also a Software / Data Carpentries maintainer and instructor and a member of the Force 11 Software Citation Implementation Working Group.

My research interests include collective action, social ecological systems, large-scale software systems engineering, model componentization and coupling, and finding effective ways to promote and facilitate good software engineering practices for reusable & reproducible scientific computation.

Executive Board

Andrew Bell

Term(s): 2017-2019

Andrew Bell (Ph.D. 2010, Michigan) was a Research Fellow in the Environment and Production Technology Division at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington, DC. His current research portfolio focuses on the use of field instruments – such as discrete choice experiments, framed field experiments, randomized control trials – to inform behavior in agent-based models of coupled human-natural systems. Prior to this post, Andrew was a post-doctoral research fellow at The Earth Institute at Columbia University, where he focused on developing applications for paleo-climate histories.

Mariam Kiran

Term(s): 2015-2017, 2018-2020

Dr. Mariam Kiran is a Research Scientist at LBNL, with roles at ESnet and Computational Research Division. Her current research focuses on deep reinforcement learning techniques and multi-agent applications to optimize control of system architectures such as HPC grids, high-speed networks and Cloud infrastructures.. Her work involves optimization of QoS, performance using parallelization algorithms and software engineering principles to solve complex data intensive problems such as large-scale complex decision-making. Over the years, she has been working with biologists, economists, social scientists, building tools and performing optimization of architectures for multiple problems in their domain.

William Rand

Term(s): 2014-2016, 2017-2019

The big picture question driving my research is how do complex systems of interactions among individuals / agents result in emergent properties and how do those emergent properties feedback to affect individual / agent decisions. I have explored this big picture question in a number of different contexts including the evolution of cooperation, suburban sprawl, traffic patterns, financial systems, land-use and land-change in urban systems, and most recently social media. For all of these explorations, I employ the tools of complex systems, most importantly agent-based modeling.

My current research focus is on understanding the dynamics of social media, examining how concepts like information, authority, influence and trust diffuse in these new media formats. This allows us to ask questions such as who do users trust to provide them with the information that they want? Which entities have the greatest influence on social media users? How do fads and fashions arise in social media? What happens when time is critical to the diffusion process such as an in a natural disaster? I have employed agent-based modeling, machine learning, geographic information systems, and network analysis to understand and start to answer these questions.

Kimberly Rogers

Term(s): 2018-2020

Kimberly is a coastal geographer who studies the spatial and temporal scales of integrated human-natural processes, and how these shape river deltas and floodplains. She received her BSc in Geological Sciences and Geography from the University of Texas at Austin; her PhD in Environmental Engineering was completed at Vanderbilt University in 2012. She is currently a Research Associate at the Insitute for Arctic and Alpine Research and CSDMS at the Univeristy of Colorado Boulder.

My research interests are broadly interdisciplinary, centering on large river deltas. I study how climate, river & marine processes, and environmental governance interact to shape deltaic floodplains, coasts, and nearshore environments.

I use integrated quantitative and qualitative methods such as computational models and ethnography to explore complex feedbacks between coastal dynamics, global change (sea level rise, increased storm activity), and human activity (land use, agriculture, infrastructure, water diversion). Stakeholder involvement is an integral part of my research approach.

Beyond human timescales, I am interested in the fate of river-borne material once it enters the ocean, and how particulate transfer across the land-sea boundary changes in space and time.

My research program has taken me into remote mangroves in South Asia and into the Bay of Bengal to examine the effect of coupled fluvial-marine processes on sediment dispersal. My postdoctoral research involved 1) collecting sediment in the heavily cultivated and embanked floodplains of the Bengal Delta, and 2) using numerical models to simulate lateral sedimentation patterns in both embanked and unembanked areas. Currently, I am developing an agent-based model to investigate the interactions between flood control infrastructure and farming practices by smalholder farmers in Bangladesh. Through the ABM, I am exploring how physical processes and spatially-variable infrastructure governance may scale up to collectively impact risk and exposure of vulnerable populations to coastal flooding. I will expand this work to include human mobility as an outcome variable for testing risk tolerance thresholds in the environmentally stressed coastal areas of Southwest Bangladesh and Vietnam.

Forrest Stonedahl

Term(s): 2016-2018

My primary research interests lie at the intersection of two fields: evolutionary computation and multi-agent systems. I am specifically interested in how evolutionary search algorithms can be used to help people understand and analyze agent-based models of complex systems (e.g., flocking birds, traffic jams, or how information diffuses across social networks). My secondary research interests broadly span the areas of artificial life, multi-agent robotics, cognitive/learning science, design of multi-agent modeling environments. I enjoy interdisciplinary research, and in pursuit of the aforementioned topics, I have been involved in application areas from archeology to zoology, from linguistics to marketing, and from urban growth patterns to materials science. I am also very interested in creative approaches to computer science and complex systems education, and have published work on the use of multi-agent simulation as a vehicle for introducing students to computer science.

It is my philosophy that theoretical research should be inspired by real-world problems, and conversely, that theoretical results should inform and enhance practice in the field. Accordingly, I view tool building as a vital practice that is complementary to theoretical and methodological research. Throughout my own work I have contributed to the research community by developing several practical software tools, including BehaviorSearch (http://www.behaviorsearch.org/)

Moira Zellner

Term(s): 2016-2018

Dr. Moira Zellner is an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Department of Urban Planning and Policy, the director of the Urban Data Visualization lab, and is a research associate professor in the Institute for Environmental Science and Policy at UIC. Dr. Zellner has served as Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator in interdisciplinary projects examining how specific policy, technological and behavioral factors influence the emergence and impacts of a range of complex environmental problems, where interaction effects make responsibilities and burdens unclear. Her research also examines the value of complexity-based modeling for participatory policy exploration and social learning with stakeholders and decision-makers. Dr. Zellner also teaches a variety of workshops on complexity-based modeling of socio-ecological systems, for training of both scientists and decision-makers.

Applications of agent-based modeling to urban and environmental planning

CoMSES Digest Editors

My research uses modeling to understand complex coupled human and natural systems, and can be generally described as computational social science. I am especially interested in modeling water management systems, in both archaeological and contemporary contexts. I have previously developed a framework for modeling general archaeological complex systems, and applied this to the specific case of the Hohokam in southern Arizona. I am currently engaged in research in data mining to understand contemporary water management strategies in the U.S. southwest and in several locations in Alaska. I am also a developer for the Repast HPC toolkit, an agent-based modeling toolkit specifically for high-performance computing platforms, and maintain an interest in the philosophy of science underlying our use of models as a means to approach complex systems. I am currently serving as Communications Officer for the Computational Social Science Society of the Americas.

Infrastructure Group

Dr. Dawn Parker is a professor at the University of Waterloo in the School of Planning. Her research focuses on the development of integrated socio-economic and biophysical models of land-use change. Dr. Parker works with agent-based modeling, complexity theory, geographic information systems, and environmental and resource economics. Her current ongoing projects include Waterloo Area Regional Model (WARM) Urban intensification vs. suburban flight, a SSHRC funded development grant that explores the causal relationships between light rail transit and core-area intensification, and the Digging into Data MIRACLE (Mining relationships among variables in large datasets from complex systems) project.

I am a developer for CoMSES Net as part of the Global Biosocial Complexity Initiative at Arizona State University. I work on improving model reuse, accessibility and discoverability through the development of the comses.net website and the CoMSES bibliographic database (catalog.comses.net). I also provide data analysis and software development advice on coupling models, version control, dependency management and data analysis to researchers and modelers.

My interests include model componentization, statistics, data analysis and improving model development and resuability practices.

Executive Board Alumni

I studied Mathematics at Oxford (1979-1983) then did youth work in inner city areas for the Educational Charity. After teaching in Grenada in the West Indies we came back to the UK, where the first job I could get was in a 6th form college (ages 16-18). They sent me to do post16 PCGE, which was so boring that I also started a part-time PGCE. The PhD was started in 1992 and was on the meaning and definition of the idea of “complexity”, which I had been pondering for a few years. Given the growth of the field of complexity from that time, I had great fun reading almost anything in the library but I did finally finish it in 1999. Fortunately I got a job at the Centre for Policy Modelling (CfPM) in 1994 with its founder and direction, Scott Moss. We were doing agent-based social simulation then, but did not know it was called this and did not meet other such simulators for a few years. With Scott Moss we built the CfPM into one of the leading research centres in agent-based social simulation in the world. I became director of the CfPM just before Scott retired, and later became Professor of Social Simulation in 2013. For more about me see http://bruce.edmonds.name or http://cfpm.org.

All aspects of social simulation including: techniques, tools, applications, philosophy, methodology and interesting examples. Understanding complex social systems. Context-dependency and how it affects interaction and cognition. Complexity and how this impacts upon simulation modelling. Social aspects of cognition - or to put it another way - the social embedding of intelligence. Simulating how science works. Integrating qualitative evidence better into ABMs. And everything else.

Volker Grimm currently works at the Department of Ecological Modelling, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung. Volker does research in ecology and biodiversity research.

How to model it: Ecological models, in particular simulation models, often seem to be formulated ad hoc and only poorly analysed. I am therefore interested in strategies and methods for making ecological modelling more coherent and efficient. The ultimate aim is to develop preditive models that provide mechanstic understanding of ecological systems and that are transparent and structurally realistic enough to support environmental decision making.

Pattern-oriented modelling: This is a general strategy of using multiple patterns observed in real systems as multiple criteria for chosing model structure, selecting among alternative submodels, and inversely determining entire sets of unknown model parameters.

Individual-based and agent-based modelling: For many, if not most, ecological questions individual-level aspects can be decisive for explaining system-level behavior. IBM/ABMs allow to represent individual heterogeneity, local interactions, and/or adaptive behaviour

Ecological theory and concepts: I am particularly interested in exploring stability properties like resilience and persistence.

Modelling for ecological applications: Pattern-oriented modelling allows to develop structurally realistic models, which can be used to support decision making and the management of biodiversity and natural resources. Currently, I am involved in the EU project CREAM, where a suite of population models is developed for pesticide risk assessment.

Standards for model communication and formulation: In 2006, we published a general protocol for describing individual- and agent-based models, called the ODD protocol (Overview, Design concepts, details). ODD turned out to be more useful (and needed) than we expected.

Christophe Le Page currently works at the Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD). Christophe does research on participatory modelling of the interactions between agriculture and the environment, focusing more specifically on the relationships among stakeholders about the management of natural renewable resources. Christophe is designing and using interactive agent-based simulation and role-playing games. He is an active member of the Companion Modelling research group.

Agent-based simulations and role-playing games in the field of renewable resource management.

Gary Polhill did a degree in Artificial Intelligence and a PhD in Neural Networks before spending 18 months in industry as a professional programmer. Since 1997 he has been working at the Institute on agent-based modelling of human-natural systems, and has worked on various international and interdisciplinary projects using agent-based modelling to study agricultural systems, lifestyles, and transitions to more sustainable ways of living. In 2016, he was elected President of the European Social Simulation Association, and was The James Hutton Institute’s 2017 Science Challenge Leader on Developing Technical and Social Innovations that Support Sustainable and Resilient Communities.

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