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.
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 currently head of the Junior Research Group POLISES which uses agent-based models to study intended and unintended effects of global policy instruments on the social-ecological resilience of smallholders. In this project, we focus on the impact of policies targeting climate risk in two common property regimes of pastoralists in Africa (Morocco and Kenya/Ethiopia).
On a conceptual level, I work in an international team of modellers, psychologists and natural scientists on adequate representations of human behaviour in agent-based models. Furthermore, I am interested in how to describe models in an appropriate and standardised manner to increase their comprehensibility and comparison.
I am Professor in Computational Resilience Economics at the University of Twente (the Netherlands), which I joined in 2010. In September 2017 I also joined University of Technology Sydney (Australia) as Professor of Computational Economic Modeling working with spatial simulation models to study socioeconomic impacts of disasters and emergence of resilience across scales. I was honored to be elected as a Member of the De Jonge Akademie of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (DJA/ KNAW in 2016) and of Social Sciences Council (SWR/KNAW in 2017). From 2009 to 2015 I have been working part-time as an economist at Deltares – the leading Dutch knowledge institute in the field of water management – specializing in economics of climate change, with focus on floods and droughts management.
I am interested in the feedbacks between policies and aggregated outcomes of individual decisions in the context of spatial and environmental policy-making. The issue of social interactions and information diffusion through networks to affect economic behavior is highly relevant here. My research line focuses on exploring how behavioral changes at micro level may lead to critical transitions (tipping points/regime shifts) on macro level in complex adaptive human-environment systems in application to climate change economics. I use agent-based modelling (ABM) combined with social science methods of behavioral data collection on individual decisions and social networks. This research line has been distinguished by the NWO VENI and ERC Starting grants and the Early Career Excellence award of the International Environmental Modeling Society (iEMSs). In 2018 I was invited to serve as the Associate Editor of the Environmental Modelling & Software journal, where I have been a regular Member of the Editorial Board since 2013.
I currently work on an agent-based model on energy-efficient renovation decisions.
Sae Schatz, Ph.D., is an applied human–systems researcher, professional facilitator, and cognitive scientist. Her work focuses on human–systems integration (HSI), with an emphasis on human cognition and learning, instructional technologies, adaptive systems, human performance assessment, and modeling and simulation (M&S). Frequently, her work seeks to enhance individual’s higher-order cognitive skills (i.e., the mental, emotional, and relational skills associated with “cognitive readiness”).