My broad research interests are in human-environmental interactions and land-use change. Specifically, I am interested in how people make land-use decisions, how those decisions modify the functioning of natural systems, and how those modifications feedback on human well-being, livelihoods, and subsequent land-use decisions. All of my research begins with a complex systems background with the aim of understanding the dynamics of human-environment interactions and their consequences for environmental and economic sustainability. Agent-based modeling is my primary tool of choice to understand human-environment interactions, but I also frequently use other land change modeling approaches (e.g., cellular automata, system dynamics, econometrics), spatial statistics, and GIS. I also have expertise in synthesis methods (e.g., meta-analysis) for bringing together leveraging disparate forms of social and environmental data to understand how specific cases (i.e., local) of land-use change contribute to and/or differ from broader-scale (i.e. regional or global) patterns of human-environment interactions and land change outcomes.
I am a data scientist employing a variety of ecoinformatic tools to understand and improve the sustainability of complex social-ecological systems. I am also working to apply Science and Technology Studies to my modeling processes in order to make social-ecological system management more just. I prefer to work collaboratively with communities on modeling, both teaching mapping and modeling skills as well as analyzing and synthesizing community-held data as appropriate. At the same time, I look for ways to create space for qualitative and other forms of knowledge to reside alongside quantitative analysis. Recent projects include: 1) Studying Californian forest dynamics using Bayesian statistical models and object-based image analysis (datasets included forest inventories and historical aerial photographs); 2) Indigenous mapping and community-based modeling of agro-pastoral systems in rural Zimbabwe (methods included GPS/GIS, agent-based modeling and social network analysis); 3) Supporting Tribal science and environmental management on the Klamath River in California using historical aerial image analysis of land use/land cover change and social networks analysis of water quality management processes; 4) Bayesian statistical modeling of community-collected data on human uses of Marine Protected Areas in California.
Modeling land use change from smallholder agricultural intensification
Agricultural expansion in the rural tropics brings much needed economic and social development in developing countries. On the other hand, agricultural development can result in the clearing of biologically-diverse and carbon-rich forests. To achieve both development and conservation objectives, many government policies and initiatives support agricultural intensification, especially in smallholdings, as a way to increase crop production without expanding farmlands. However, little is understood regarding how different smallholders might respond to such investments for yield intensification. It is also unclear what factors might influence a smallholder’s land-use decision making process. In this proposed research, I will use a bottom-up approach to evaluate whether investments in yield intensification for smallholder farmers would really translate to sustainable land use in Indonesia. I will do so by combining socioeconomic and GIS data in an agent-based model (Land-Use Dynamic Simulator multi-agent simulation model). The outputs of my research will provide decision makers with new and contextualized information to assist them in designing agricultural policies to suit varying socioeconomic, geographic and environmental contexts.
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.
I obtained a PhD in database information theory from the University of the West of Scotland in 2015, and have been a researcher at the James Hutton Institute ever since. My areas of research are agent-based-modelling (ABM), data curation, effective use of infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and semantic information representation and extraction using formal structures such as computerised ontologies, relational databases and any other structured or semi-structured data representations. I primarily deal with social and agricultural models and was originally taken on in the role of knowledge engineer in order to create the ontology for the H2020 project, Green Lifestyles, Alternative Models and Upscaling Regional Sustainability (GLAMURS). Subsequent work, for the Scottish Government has involved the use of IaaS, more commonly referred to as the “cloud” to create rapidly deployable and cheap alternatives to in-house high-performance computing for both ABM and Geographical Information System models.
It is the mixture of skills and interests involving modelling, data organisation and computing infrastructure expertise that I believe will be highly apposite in the duties associated with being a member of the CoMSES executive. Moreover, prior to joining academia, I spent about 25 years as a developer in commercial IT, in the agricultural, entertainment and banking sectors, and feel that such practical experience can only benefit the CoMSES network.
Eric Kameni holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science option modeling and application from the Radboud University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands, after a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science in Application Development and a Diploma in Master’s degree with Thesis in Computer Science on “modeling the diffusion of trust in social networks” at the University of Yaoundé I in Cameroon. My doctoral thesis focused on developing a model-based development approach for designing ICT-based solutions to solve environmental problems (Natural Model based Design in Context (NMDC)).
The particular focus of the research is the development of a spatial and Agent-Based Model to capture the motivations underlying the decision making of the various actors towards the investments in the quality of land and institutions, or other aspects of land use change. Inductive models (GIS and statistical based) can extrapolate existing land use patterns in time but cannot include actors decisions, learning and responses to new phenomena, e.g. new crops or soil conservation techniques. Therefore, more deductive (‘theory-driven’) approaches need to be used to complement the inductive (‘data-driven’) methods for a full grip on transition processes. Agent-Based Modeling is suitable for this work, in view of the number and types of actors (farmer, sedentary and transhumant herders, gender, ethnicity, wealth, local and supra-local) involved in land use and management. NetLogo framework could be use to facilitate modeling because it portray some desirable characteristics (agent based and spatially explicit). The model develop should provide social and anthropological insights in how farmers work and learn.
(a) Professional Preparation
Brigham Young University Statistics & Computer Science B.S. 1986
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Biostatistics M.S. 1988
North Carolina State University Biomathematics & Entomology Ph.D. 1997
Associate Professor 2006-current: Brigham Young University Department of Biology
Assistant Professor 2000-2006: Brigham Young University Department of Integrative Biology
Research Scientist 1997-1999: Agriculture Research Service-USDA Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center.
i. Five most relevant publications
Ahmadou H. Dicko, Renaud Lancelot, Momar Talla Seck, Laure Guerrini, Baba Sall, Mbargou Low, Marc J.B. Vreysen, Thierry Lefrançois, Fonta Williams, Steven L. Peck, and Jérémy Bouyer. 2014. Using species distribution models to optimize vector control: the tsetse eradication campaign in Senegal. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. 11 (28) : 10149-10154
Peck, S. L. 2014. Perspectives on why digital ecologies matter: Combining population genetics and ecologically informed agent-based models with GIS for managing dipteran livestock pests. Acta Tropica. 138S (2014) S22–S25
Peck, S. L. and Jérémy Bouyer. 2012. Mathematical modeling, spatial complexity, and critical decisions in tsetse control. Journal of Economic Entomology 105(5): 1477—1486.
Peck, S. L. 2012. Networks of habitat patches in tsetse fly control: implications of metapopulation structure on assessing local extinction probabilities. Ecological Modelling 246: 99–102.
Peck, S. L. 2012. Agent-based models as fictive instantiations of ecological processes.” Philosophy & Theory in Biology. Vol. 4.e303 (2012): 12
ii. Five other publications of note
Peck, S. L. 2008. The Hermeneutics of Ecological Simulation. Biology and Philosophy 23:383-402.
K.M. Froerer, S.L. Peck, G.T. McQuate, R.I. Vargas, E.B. Jang, and D.O. McInnis. 2010. Long distance movement of Bactrocera dorsalis (Diptera: Tephritidae) in Puna, Hawaii: How far can they go? American Entomologist 56(2): 88-94
Peck, S. L. 2004. Simulation as experiment: a philosophical reassessment for biological modeling. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 19 (10): 530 534
Storer N.P., S. L. Peck, F. Gould, J. W. Van Duyn and G. G. Kennedy. 2003 Sensitivity analysis of a spatially-explicit stochastic simulation model of the evolution of resistance in Helicoverpa zea (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) to Bt transgenic corn and cotton. Economic Entomology. 96(1): 173-187
Peck, S. L., F. Gould, and S. Ellner. 1999. The spread of resistance in spatially extended systems of transgenic cotton: Implications for the management of Heliothis virescens (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Economic Entomology 92:1-16.