Isaac IT Ullah, PhD, (Arizona State University 2013) Dr. Ullah is a computational archaeologist who employs GIS and simulation modeling to understand the long-term dynamics of humans and the Earth System. Dr. Ullah is particularly interested in the social and environmental changes surrounding the advent of farming and animal husbandry. His focus is on Mediterranean and other semi-arid landscapes, and he conducts fieldwork in Jordan, Italy, and Kazakhstan. His field work includes survey for and excavation of early agricultural sites as well as geoarchaeological analyses of anthropogenic landscapes. His specialties include landscape evolution, complex adaptive systems science, computational methods, geospatial analysis, and imagery analysis.
Computational Archaeology, Food Production, Forager-Farmer transition, Neolithic, Agro-pastoralism, Erosion Modeling, Anthropogenic Landscapes, Geoarchaeology, Modeling and Simulation, GIS, Imagery Analysis, ABM, Mediterranean
I am an anthropological archaeologist with broad interests in hunter-gatherers, lithic technology, human evolution, and complex systems theory. I am particularly interested in understanding processes of long term social, evolutionary, and adaptational change among hunter-gatherers, specifically by using approaches that combine archaeological data, ethnographic data, and computational modeling.
My interests center around long-term human ecology and landscape dynamics with ongoing projects in the Mediterranean (late Pleistocene through mid-Holocene) and recent work in the American Southwest (Holocene-Archaic). I’ve done fieldwork in Spain, Bosnia, and various locales in North America and have expertise in hunter/gatherer and early farming societies, geoarchaeology, lithic technology, and evolutionary theory, with an emphasis on human/environmental interaction, landscape dynamics, and techno-economic change.
Quantitative methods are critical to archaeological research, and socioecological sciences in general. They are an important focus of my research, especially emphasizing dynamic modeling, spatial technologies (including GIS and remote sensing), statistical analysis, and visualization. I am a member of the open source GRASS GIS international development team that is making cutting edge spatial technologies available to researchers and students around the world.
My research focuses on building a systemic understanding of coupled human-natural systems. In particular, I am interested in understanding how patterns of land-use and land-cover change emerge from human alterations of natural processes and the resulting feedbacks. Study systems of interest include those undergoing agricultural to urban conversion, typically known as urban sprawl, and those in which protective measures, such as wildfire suppression or flood/storm impact controls, can lead to long-term instability.
Dynamic agent- and process-based simulation models are my primary tools for studying human and natural systems, respectively. My past work includes the creation of dynamic, process-based simulation models of the wildland fires along the urban-wildland interface (UWI), and artificial dune construction to protect coastal development along a barrier island coastline. My current research involves the testing, refinement, extension of an economic agent-based model of coupled housing and land markets (CHALMS), and a new project developing a generalized agent-based model of land-use change to explore local human-environmental interactions globally.
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.
The Global Resource Observatory (GRO)
The Global Resource Observatory is largest single research project being undertaken at the GSI, it investigates how the scarcity of finite resources will impact global social and political fragility in the short term. The ambitious three year project, funded by the Dawe Charitable Trust, will enable short term decision making to account for ecological and financial constraints of a finite planet.
GRO will include an open source multidimensional model able to quantify the likely short term interactions of the human economy with the carrying capacity of the planet and key scarce resources. The model will enable exploration of the complex interconnections between the resource availability and human development, and provides projections over the next 5 years.
Data and scenarios will be geographically mapped to show the current and future balance and distribution of resources across and within countries. The GRO tool will, for the first time, enable the widespread integration of the implications of depleting key resource into all levels of policy and business decision-making.
I live near Cambridge, and recently I developed agent-based land-use models with Geography PhD students there. I also took part in the “Cybernetics and Society” seminar.
Previously, I spent three years at Ludwig-Maximillians University, Munich, working on Human-Environment Relations and Sustainability, and over two and a half years at Surrey University, working on Innovation with Nigel Gilbert in the Centre for Research in Social Simulation (CRESS). The project at Surrey resulted in a book in 2014, “Simulating Innovation: Computer-based Tools for Rethinking Innovation”. My PhD topic, modelling human agents who energise or de-energise each other in social interactions, drew upon the work of sociologist Randall Collins. My multi-disciplinary background includes degrees in Operational Research (MSc) and Philosophy (BA/MA).
I got hooked on agent-based modelling and complexity science some time around 2000, via the work of Brian Arthur, Stuart Kauffman, Robert Axelrod and Duncan Watts (no relation!).
I am an agent-based modeller specialising in Netlogo and Excel/VBA. My recent interests include Human-Environment Relations, Innovation, Collective Intelligence and Governance Systems, and the Collapse of Complex Societies.
I have a longer term aim to study the modelling of Institutions, especially the cognitive architecture for agents who can recognise, learn and innovate in institutions.
If you’re based near Cambridge and have an idea for a modelling project, for the cost of a beer/coffee I’m always willing to offer advice.