Isaac IT Ullah, PhD, (Arizona State University 2013) Dr. Ullah is a computational archaeologist who employs GIS and simulation modeling to understand the long-term dynamics of humans and the Earth System. Dr. Ullah is particularly interested in the social and environmental changes surrounding the advent of farming and animal husbandry. His focus is on Mediterranean and other semi-arid landscapes, and he conducts fieldwork in Jordan, Italy, and Kazakhstan. His field work includes survey for and excavation of early agricultural sites as well as geoarchaeological analyses of anthropogenic landscapes. His specialties include landscape evolution, complex adaptive systems science, computational methods, geospatial analysis, and imagery analysis.
Computational Archaeology, Food Production, Forager-Farmer transition, Neolithic, Agro-pastoralism, Erosion Modeling, Anthropogenic Landscapes, Geoarchaeology, Modeling and Simulation, GIS, Imagery Analysis, ABM, Mediterranean
The goal of my research program is to improve our understanding about highly integrated natural and human processes. Within the context of Land-System Science, I seek to understand how natural and human systems interact through feedback mechanisms and affect land management choices among humans and ecosystem (e.g., carbon storage) and biophysical processes (e.g., erosion) in natural systems. One component of this program involves finding novel methods for data collection (e.g., unmanned aerial vehicles) that can be used to calibrate and validate models of natural systems at the resolution of decision makers. Another component of this program involves the design and construction of agent-based models to formalize our understanding of human decisions and their interaction with their environment in computer code. The most exciting, and remaining part, is coupling these two components together so that we may not only quantify the impact of representing their coupling, but more importantly to assess the impacts of changing climate, technology, and policy on human well-being, patterns of land use and land management, and ecological and biophysical aspects of our environment.
To achieve this overarching goal, my students and I conduct fieldwork that involves the use of state-of-the-art unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in combination with ground-based light detection and ranging (LiDAR) equipment, RTK global positioning system (GPS) receivers, weather and soil sensors, and a host of different types of manual measurements. We bring these data together to make methodological advancements and benchmark novel equipment to justify its use in the calibration and validation of models of natural and human processes. By conducting fieldwork at high spatial resolutions (e.g., parcel level) we are able to couple our representation of natural system processes at the scale at which human actors make decisions and improve our understanding about how they react to changes and affect our environment.
land use; land management; agricultural systems; ecosystem function; carbon; remote sensing; field measurements; unmanned aerial vehicle; human decision-making; erosion, hydrological, and agent-based modelling
I am a spatial (GIS) agent-based modeler i.e. modeler that simulates the impact of various individual decisions on the environment. My work is mainly methodological i.e. I develop tools that make agent-based modeling (ABM) easier to do. I especially focus on developing tools that allow for evaluating various uncertainties in ABM. One of these uncertainties are the ways of quantifying agent decisions (i.e. the algorithmic representation of agent decision rules) for example to address the question of “How do the agents decide whether to grow crops or rather put land to fallow?”. One of the methods I developed focuses on representing residential developers’ risk perception for example to answer the question: “to what extent is the developer risk-taking and would be willing to build new houses targeted at high-income families (small market but big return on investment)?”. Other ABM uncertainties that I evaluate are various spatial inputs (e.g. different representations of soil erosion, different maps of environmental benefits from land conservation) and various demographics (i.e. are retired farmers more willing to put land to conservation?). The tools I develop are mostly used in (spatial) sensitivity analysis of ABM (quantitative, qualitative, and visual).