Primate evolutionary biologist and geneticist at the University of Texas at Austin
I conduct long-term behavioral and ecological field research on several species in the primate community of Amazonian Ecuador to investigate the ways in which ecological conditions (such as the abundance and distribution of food resources) and the strategies of conspecifics together shape primate behavior and social relationships and ultimately determine the kinds of societies we see primates living in. This is a crucial and central focus in evolutionary anthropology, as understanding the ways in which behavior and social systems are shaped by environmental pressures is a fundamental part of the discipline.
I complement my field studies with molecular genetic laboratory work and agent-based simulation modeling in order to address issues that are typically difficult to explore through observational studies alone, including questions about dispersal behavior, gene flow, mating patterns, population structure, and the fitness consequences of individual behavior. In collaboration with colleagues, I have also started using molecular techniques to investigate a number of broader questions concerning the evolutionary history, social systems, and ecological roles of various New World primates.
Ms. Stringfellow is a PhD candidate whose goal is to identify ways to build and leverage the natural support systems of people who are experiencing problems related to their illicit drug use. Her current interest is in how these support systems operate in small towns with limited formal resources for quitting. To that end, she recently began conducting in-depth qualitative interviews for her dissertation in a semi-rural county in eastern Missouri. These interviews will be used to build an agent-based model, a type of dynamic simulation modeling that can be used to represent heterogeneous actors with multiple goals and perceptions. As a research assistant and dissertation fellow with the Social System Design Lab, she has also been trained in system dynamics, an aggregate-level dynamic simulation modeling method.
Prior to joining the PhD program, she worked as a research associate at the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program from 2008-2012. BHCHP is an exemplar model of providing patient-centered care for people who have experienced homelessness. There, she gained significant experience in managing research projects, collecting qualitative and quantitative data, and program evaluation. She earned her MSW from the University of Michigan in 2007, with a focus on policy and evaluation in community and social systems, and a BA in sociology in 2005, also at the University of Michigan. Ms. Stringfellow was born and raised in a small town in Michigan.
Kenneth D. Aiello is a postdoctoral research scholar with the Global BioSocial Complexity Initiative at ASU. Kenneth’s research contributes to cross disciplinary conversations on how historical developments in biological, social, and cultural knowledge systems are governed by processes that transform the structure, dynamics, and function of complex systems. Applying computational historical analysis and epistemology to question what scientific knowledge is and how we can analyze changes in knowledge, he uses text analysis, social network analysis, and machine learning to measure similarities and differences between the knowledge claims of individual agents and groups. His work builds on how to assess contested knowledge claims and measure the evolution of knowledge across complex systems and multiple dimensions of scale. This approach also engages in dynamic new debates about global and local structures of knowledge shaped by technological innovation within microbiology related to public policy, shrinking resources given to biomedical ideas as opposed to “translation”, and the ethics of scientific discovery. Using interdisciplinary methods for understanding historical content and context rich narratives contributes to understanding new domains and major transitions in science and provides a richer understanding of how knowledge emerges.
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 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).
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.