(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.
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.