School for Environment and Sustainability
Samuel Trask Dana Professor, Professor of Environment and Sustainability, School for Environment and Sustainability, Faculty Associate, Center for Political Studies, Institute for Social Research, Professor of Political Science, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and Professor of Public Policy, Gerald R Ford School of Public Policy
My research seeks to leverage survey, census, remote-sensed, and citizen-science datasets to address social and collective dilemmas related to climate mitigation and adaptation, vulnerability to climate risks, the relationship between climate change and health, the unfolding trajectories of demographic change in conjunction with climate change and sociopolitical stability, commoning and commoning-based interventions in the context of socio-cultural and social-ecological systems, and post-disaster recovery. I am particularly interested in techniques that help harmonize datasets from different sources, support causal inference from observational datasets, and identify causal mechanisms underpinning associational relationships.
After an undergraduate degree in history and an MBA, I found myself most intrigued and interested by questions related to why people strive together, how they achieve shared purpose, and how knowledge about collaborative actions – commoning – can help address the most persistent challenges confronting societies. Much of my research is founded on this wellspring of unresolved social questions and dilemmas.
Some of my most interesting projects
Climate change is transforming the landscape and background of sociopolitical and social-ecological relationships. Advances in data sciences promise radical improvements in data harmonization and analysis of observational datasets to support causal inference necessary for improved decision making. Our research focuses in particular on how such advances will enable deeper knowledge and better choices for improved health, sustained peace, and living in harmony with nature in the context of climate, socio-demographic, and institutional changes.
The most significant scientific contribution I would like to make
Strengthen the human capacity to act together to achieve shared purpose
What makes me excited about my data science and AI research
The possibility of identifying and learning unsuspected and unrecognized patterns in joint work for shared purpose.
Some interesting facts about myself
Much of the late summer and fall finds me hunting for edible mushrooms in the woods in and around Ann Arbor
I believe the most interesting + useful chemical processes are those that yield delicious tastes in the kitchen