What Students Do

Students working with me are engaged in a variety of projects to combine knowledge about the physical environment and social, political, and economic conditions. This can include analysis of remote-sensing imagery from satellites, working with GIS databases, developing agent-based models, and conducting spatiotemporal statistical analysis.

Students write and publish papers, often as first-author, in scientific journals and present research results at national and international conferences.

Current Students

  • Kelsea Best is researching connections between environmental change, livelihoods, and population movement in Bangladesh. Kelsea applies machine learning to survey data to identify patterns in the characteristics of people who relocate and will use those insights to develop agent-based models to simulate migration patterns.

  • Pam Hoover is studying the environmental impact of reading documents electronically versus printing them out.

  • David Knorr is investigating connections between gentrification and access to public transit in Nashville. David uses GIS and other tools to apply advanced spatio-temporal statistical methods to studying patterns in home sales and prices and ridership on public buses. He will use the results of this research to develop an agent-based model of the impact of gentrification on the ability to conduct the activities of daily living by people with low income and limited access to personal vehicles.

  • Chris Tasich is studying governance of vulnerable landscapes in Bangladesh. Chris has developed a model of sediment deposition in intertidal lands along the tidal channels in coastal Bangladesh. He is applying agent-based models of local decision-making to study how communities might make use of different approaches to managing vulnerable lands in the face of sea-level rise and other environmental change.

Recently Graduated Students

  • Emily K. Burchfield graduated with her Ph.D. in 2017. Her graduate studies focused on combining intensive computational methods of geospatial analysis with satellite remote-sensing imagery and on-the-ground research on farmers coping with water scarcity in Bangladesh. Emily made extensive use of Bayesian statistical methods to analyze her data and developed agent-based models of the economic and social impacts of farmers’ decision processes.

    Emily is now an Assistant Professor at Utah State University's Department of Environment and Society.

  • John J. Nay graduated with his Ph.D. in 2017. His graduate studies focused on computational decision science, combining machine learning, behavioral economics, and field work in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. John applied machine learning tools and agent-based modeling to a wide variety of problems, from identifying the strategies real people use in playing games to analyzing law and policy.

    While he was still a graduate student, John founded a company, Skopos Labs, which applies artificial intelligence to predicting which bills before the U.S. Congress.

    John divides his time between being CEO of Skopos Labs and a postdoctoral fellowship in legal informatics at the New York University Law School.

  • Laura Benneyworth graduated with her Ph.D. in 2016. Her graduate studies focused on integrating detailed chemical analysis of water quality in Bangladesh with social-scientific research on people's perceptions of water quality and the sources of water they use.

    Laura discovered that rural households in Bangladesh often have
    great difficulty finding safe water to drink and often don't even
    realize how poor the quality of their water is. These difficulties
    are far greater than one would guess from the official figures on
    water availablity.
    After graduating, Laura has worked as a GIS analyst for the Tennessee
    Department of Transportation and as a GIS consultant.

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