I am interested in the interface between biology and computation. I am especially focused on modelling and simulation of evolutionary processes.
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.
My field of interests concerns two axes:
First, epistemology of computational modeling and simulation of complex systems. I am particularly interested in a sociological inquiry about social implication of knowledge derived from complex systems’ study.
Second, assessing the possibilities and limits of studying social complexity with complex systems tools, particularly, agent-based modeling and simulation.
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.
I live in Salento (Italy) the small land between two seas, where I work as a teacher in a school for adults. My education includes a degree in Life Sciences; in my post-graduate training, I have been involved in searching for the genetic and molecular responses of some cellular systems to environmental and genomic stresses. Now, one of my great interests is the approach to theoretical biology through agent-based modeling techniques (even if, I know, nothing can be more surprising than the complexity of Nature and the cognition of it).
Complex Adaptive Systems, Agent Based Simulation, Technology Enhanced Learning, and Theoretical Biology
I studied Molecular Biology and Genetics at Istanbul Technical University. During my undergraduate studies I became interested in the field of Ecology and Evolution and did internships on animal behaviour in Switzerland and Ireland. I then went on to pursue a 2-year research Master’s in Evolutionary Biology (MEME) funded by the European Union. I worked on projects using computer simulations to investigate evolution of social complexity and human cooperation. I also did behavioural economics experiments on how children learn social norms by copying others. After my Master’s, I pursued my dream of doing fieldwork and investigating human societies. I did my PhD at UCL, researching cultural evolution and behavioural adaptations in Pygmy hunter-gatherers in the Congo. During my PhD, I was part of an inter-disciplinary Hunter-Gatherer Resilience team funded by the Leverhulme Trust. I obtained a postdoctoral research fellowship from British Academy after my PhD. I am currently working as a British Academy research fellow and lecturer in Evolutionary Anthropology and Evolutionary Medicine at UCL.
Sedar is a PhD student at the University of Leeds, department of Geography. He graduated in Computer Science at King’s College London 2018. From a very early stage of his degree, he focused on artificial intelligence planning implementations on drones in a search and rescue domain, and this was his first formal attempt to study artificial intelligence. He participated in summer school at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul working on programming techniques to reduce execution time. During his final year, he concentrated on how argumentation theory with natural language processing can be used to optimise political influence. In the midst of completing his degree, he applied to Professor Alison Heppenstall’s research proposal focusing on data analytics and society, a joint endeavour with the Alan Turing Institute and the Economic and Social Research Council. From 2018 - 2023 he will be working on his PhD at the Alan Turing Institute and Leeds Institute for Data Analytics.
Sedar will be focusing on data analytics and smart cities, developing a programming library to try simulate how policies can impact a small world of autonomous intelligent agents to try deduce positive or negative impact in the long run. If the impact is positive and this is conveyed collectively taking into consideration the agent’s health, happiness and other social characteristics then the policy can be considered. Furthermore, he will work on agent based modelling to solve and provide faster solutions to economic and social elements of society, establishing applied and theoretical answers. Some other interests are:
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 produced “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.