My initial training was in cadastre and geodesy (B.Eng from the Distrital University, UD, Colombia). After earning my Master’s degree in Geography (UPTC, Colombia) in 2003, I worked for the “José Benito Vives de Andreis” marine and coastal research institute (INVEMAR) and for the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). Three years later, in 2006, I left Colombia to come to Canada, where I began a PhD in Geography with a specialization in modelling complex systems at Simon Fraser University (SFU), under the direction of Dr. Suzana Dragicevic (SAMLab). In my dissertation I examined the topic of spatial and temporal modelling of insect epidemics and their complex behaviours. After obtaining my PhD in 2011, I began postdoctoral studies at the University of British Columbia (2011) and the University of Victoria (2011-2013), where I worked on issues concerning the spatial and temporal relationships between changes in indirect indicators of biodiversity and climate change.
I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Montreal. My research interests center around the incorporation of artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques into the development Agent-Based Models to solve complex socio-ecological problems in different kind of systems, such as urban, forest and wetland ecosystems.
The core of my research projects aim to learn more about spatial and temporal interactions and relationships driving changes in our world, by focusing on the multidisciplinary nature of geographical information science (GIScience) to investigate the relationships between ecological processes and resulting spatial patterns. I integrate spatial analysis and modeling approaches from geographic information science (GIScience) together with computational intelligence methods and complex systems approaches to provide insights into complex problems such as climate change, landscape ecology and forestry by explicitly representing phenomena in their geographic context.
Specialties: Agent-based modeling, GIScience, Complex socio-environmental systems, Forestry, Ecology
I am a PhD Candidate in the Biological Anthropology program at the University of Minnesota. My research involves using agent-based models combined with field research to test a broad range of hypotheses in biology. I have created a model, B3GET, which simulates the evolution of virtual organisms to better understand the relationships between growth and development, life history and reproductive strategies, mating strategies, foraging strategies, and how ecological factors drive these relationships. I also conduct field research to better model the behavior of these virtual organisms. Here I am pictured with an adult male gelada in Ethiopia!
I specialize in writing agent-based models for both research in and the teaching of subjects including: biology, genetics, evolution, demography, and behavior.
For my dissertation research, I have developed “B3GET,” an agent-based model which simulates populations of virtual organisms evolving over generations, whose evolutionary outcomes reflect the selection pressures of their environment. The model simulates several factors considered important in biology, including life history trade-offs, investment in body size, variation in aggression, sperm competition, infanticide, and competition over access to food and mates. B3GET calculates each agent’s ‘decision-vectors’ from its diploid chromosomes and current environmental context. These decision-vectors dictate movement, body growth, desire to mate and eat, and other agent actions. Chromosomes are modified during recombination and mutation, resulting in behavioral strategies that evolve over generations. Rather than impose model parameters based on a priori assumptions, I have used an experimental evolution procedure to evolve traits that enabled populations to persist. Seeding a succession of populations with the longest surviving genotype from each run resulted in the evolution of populations that persisted indefinitely. I designed B3GET for my dissertation, but it has an indefinite number of applications for other projects in biology. B3GET helps answer fundamental questions in evolutionary biology by offering users a virtual field site to precisely track the evolution of organismal populations. Researchers can use B3GET to: (1) investigate how populations vary in response to ecological pressures; (2) trace evolutionary histories over indefinite time scales and generations; (3) track an individual for every moment of their life from conception to post-mortem decay; and (4) create virtual analogues of living species, including primates like baboons and chimpanzees, to answer species-specific questions. Users are able to save, edit, and import population and genotype files, offering an array of possibilities for creating controlled biological experiments.
Dr. William G. Kennedy, “Bill,” is continuing to learn in a third career, this time as an academic, a computational social scientist.
His first a career was in military service as a Naval Officer, starting with the Naval Academy, Naval PostGraduate School (as the first computer science student from the Naval Academy), and serving during the Cold War as part of the successful submarine-based nuclear deterrent. After six years of active duty service, he served over two decades in the Naval Reserves commanding three submarine and submarine-related reserve units and retiring after 30 years as a Navy Captain with several personal honors and awards.
His second career was in civilian public service: 10 years at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and 15 years with the Department of Energy. At the NRC he rose to be an advisor to the Executive Director for Operations and the authority on issues concerning the reliance on human operators for reactor safety, participating in two fly-away accident response teams. He left the NRC for a promotion and to lead, as technical director, the entrepreneurial effort to explore the use of light-water and accelerator technologies for the production of nuclear weapons materials. That work led to him becoming the senior policy officer responsible for strategic planning and Departmental performance commitments, leading development of the first several DOE strategic plans and formal performance agreements between the Secretary of Energy and the President.
Upon completion of doctoral research in Artificial Intelligence outside of his DOE work, he began his third career as a scientist. That started with a fully funded, three-year post-doctoral research position in cognitive robotics at the Naval Research Laboratory sponsored by the National Academy of Science and expanding his AI background with research in experimental Cognitive Science. Upon completion, he joined the Center for Social Complexity, part of the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study at George Mason University in 2008 where he is now the Senior Scientific Advisor. His research interests range from cognition at the individual level to models of millions of agents representing individual people. He is currently leading a multi-year project to characterize the reaction of the population of a mega-city to a nuclear WMD (weapon of mass destruction) event.
Dr. Kennedy holds a B.S. in mathematics from the U.S. Naval Academy, and Master of Science in Computer Science from the Naval PostGraduate School, and a Ph.D. in Information Technology from George Mason University and has a current security clearance. Dr. Kennedy is a member of Sigma Xi, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and a life member of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He is a STEM volunteer with the Senior Scientists and Engineers/AAAS Volunteer Program for K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education in the DC-area schools.
Cognitive Science, Computational Social Science, Social Cognition, Autonomy, Cognitive Robotics
Two themes unite my research: a commitment to methodological creativity and innovation as expressed in my work with computational social sciences, and an interest in the political economy of “globalization,” particularly its implications for the ontological claims of international relations theory.
I have demonstrated how the methods of computational social sciences can model bargaining and social choice problems for which traditional game theory has found only indeterminate and multiple equilibria. My June 2008 article in International Studies Quarterly (“Coordination in Large Numbers,” vol. 52, no. 2) illustrates that, contrary to the expectation of collective action theory, large groups may enjoy informational advantages that allow players with incomplete information to solve difficult three-choice coordination games. I extend this analysis in my 2009 paper at the International Studies Association annual convention, in which I apply ideas from evolutionary game theory to model learning processes among players faced with coordination and commitment problems. Currently I am extending this research to include social network theory as a means of modeling explicitly the patterns of interaction in large-n (i.e. greater than two) player coordination and cooperation games. I argue in my paper at the 2009 American Political Science Association annual convention that computational social science—the synthesis of agent-based modeling, social network analysis and evolutionary game theory—empowers scholars to analyze a broad range of previously indeterminate bargaining problems. I also argue this synthesis gives researchers purchase on two of the central debates in international political economy scholarship. By modeling explicitly processes of preference formation, computational social science moves beyond the rational actor model and endogenizes the processes of learning that constructivists have identified as essential to understanding change in the international system. This focus on the micro foundations of international political economy in turn allows researchers to understand how social structural features emerge and constrain actor choices. Computational social science thus allows IPE to formalize and generalize our understandings of mutual constitution and systemic change, an observation that explains the paradoxical interest of constructivists like Ian Lustick and Matthew Hoffmann in the formal methods of computational social science. Currently I am writing a manuscript that develops these ideas and applies them to several challenges of globalization: developing institutions to manage common pool resources; reforming capital adequacy standards for banks; and understanding cascading failures in global networks.
While computational social science increasingly informs my research, I have also contributed to debates about the epistemological claims of computational social science. My chapter with James N. Rosenau in Complexity in World Politics (ed. by Neil E. Harrison, SUNY Press 2006) argues that agent-based modeling suffers from underdeveloped and hidden epistemological and ontological commitments. On a more light-hearted note, my article in PS: Political Science and Politics (“Clocks, Not Dartboards,” vol. 39, no. 3, July 2006) discusses problems with pseudo-random number generators and illustrates how they can surprise unsuspecting teachers and researchers.