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 a spatial (GIS) agent-based modeler i.e. modeler that simulates the impact of various individual decisions on the environment. My work is mainly methodological i.e. I develop tools that make agent-based modeling (ABM) easier to do. I especially focus on developing tools that allow for evaluating various uncertainties in ABM. One of these uncertainties are the ways of quantifying agent decisions (i.e. the algorithmic representation of agent decision rules) for example to address the question of “How do the agents decide whether to grow crops or rather put land to fallow?”. One of the methods I developed focuses on representing residential developers’ risk perception for example to answer the question: “to what extent is the developer risk-taking and would be willing to build new houses targeted at high-income families (small market but big return on investment)?”. Other ABM uncertainties that I evaluate are various spatial inputs (e.g. different representations of soil erosion, different maps of environmental benefits from land conservation) and various demographics (i.e. are retired farmers more willing to put land to conservation?). The tools I develop are mostly used in (spatial) sensitivity analysis of ABM (quantitative, qualitative, and visual).
Eric Kameni holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science option modeling and application from the Radboud University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands, after a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science in Application Development and a Diploma in Master’s degree with Thesis in Computer Science on “modeling the diffusion of trust in social networks” at the University of Yaoundé I in Cameroon. My doctoral thesis focused on developing a model-based development approach for designing ICT-based solutions to solve environmental problems (Natural Model based Design in Context (NMDC)).
The particular focus of the research is the development of a spatial and Agent-Based Model to capture the motivations underlying the decision making of the various actors towards the investments in the quality of land and institutions, or other aspects of land use change. Inductive models (GIS and statistical based) can extrapolate existing land use patterns in time but cannot include actors decisions, learning and responses to new phenomena, e.g. new crops or soil conservation techniques. Therefore, more deductive (‘theory-driven’) approaches need to be used to complement the inductive (‘data-driven’) methods for a full grip on transition processes. Agent-Based Modeling is suitable for this work, in view of the number and types of actors (farmer, sedentary and transhumant herders, gender, ethnicity, wealth, local and supra-local) involved in land use and management. NetLogo framework could be use to facilitate modeling because it portray some desirable characteristics (agent based and spatially explicit). The model develop should provide social and anthropological insights in how farmers work and learn.
My general research interest is on modeling of complex natural and human systems systems. Specifically, I am interested in modeling agricultural production systems, that blends the complexity, multiplicity of scales and feedbacks of biophysical interactions in natural ecosystems with the additional intricacies of human decision-making. During last years I have coordinated the development and evaluation of an agent-based of agricultural production systems in the Argentinean Pampas.
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).
Dr. Dawn Parker is a professor at the University of Waterloo in the School of Planning. Her research focuses on the development of integrated socio-economic and biophysical models of land-use change. Dr. Parker works with agent-based modeling, complexity theory, geographic information systems, and environmental and resource economics. Her current ongoing projects include Waterloo Area Regional Model (WARM) Urban intensification vs. suburban flight, a SSHRC funded development grant that explores the causal relationships between light rail transit and core-area intensification, and the Digging into Data MIRACLE (Mining relationships among variables in large datasets from complex systems) project.
Agent-based computational economics (ACE); development and use of ACE test beds for the study of electric power market operations; development and use of ACE test beds for the study of water, energy, and climate change
My research is focused on understanding the importance of spatial and temporal environmental variability on communities and populations. The key question I aim to address is how the anthropogenic impacts, such as disturbances of individual animals or changed landscape heterogeneity associated with climate changes, influence the persistence of species. The harbour porpoise is an example of a species that is influenced by anthropogenic disturbances, and much of my research has focused on how the Danish porpoise populations are influenced by noise from offshore constructions. I use a wide range of modelling tools to assess the relative importance of different sources of environmental variation, including individual-based/agent based models, spatial statistics, and classical population models. This involves development of computer programs in R and NetLogo. In addition to my own research I currently supervise three PhD students and participate in the management of Department of Bioscience at Aarhus University.
Gary Polhill did a degree in Artificial Intelligence and a PhD in Neural Networks before spending 18 months in industry as a professional programmer. Since 1997 he has been working at the Institute on agent-based modelling of human-natural systems, and has worked on various international and interdisciplinary projects using agent-based modelling to study agricultural systems, lifestyles, and transitions to more sustainable ways of living. In 2016, he was elected President of the European Social Simulation Association, and was The James Hutton Institute’s 2017 Science Challenge Leader on Developing Technical and Social Innovations that Support Sustainable and Resilient Communities.