Benjamin Goldstein

By |

Benjamin Goldstein is Assistant Professor of Environment and Sustainability and head of the Sustainable Urban-Rural Futures (SURF) lab. The SURF Lab (www.surf-lab.ca) studies and emphasizes urban sustainability at multiple scales. Through his work at the SURF Lab, Benjamin helps understand how urban processes and urban form drive the consumption of materials and energy in cities and produce environmental change inside and outside cities. He develops methods and tools to quantify the scale of these changes and the locations where they occur using life cycle assessment, input-output analysis, geospatial data, and approaches from data science. Benjamin is particularly interested in combining quantitative methods with theory rooted in social science to explore multiple dimensions of sustainability and address issues of distributive justice. His topical foci include urban food systems (esp. urban agriculture), agri-commodities, residual resource engineering, global supply chains, sustainable production and consumption, and energy systems.

Derek Van Berkel

Derek Van Berkel

By |

Dr. Van Berkel is an assistant professor at The University of Michigan, School for Environment and Sustainability. His research focuses on understanding land change at diverse scales; the physical and psychological benefit of exposure to natural environments; and how digital visualization of data can add new place-based knowledge in science and community decision-making. He has expertise in spatial statistics, data science, big data, and machine learning. Van Berkel is currently a Co-PI on an NSF grant examining how online webtools can enable the public to co-create landscape designs for novel solutions to climate-change adaptation and mitigation in urban areas. He is also part of the NOAA funded GLISA project developing land change models to support knowledge discovery in municipalities throughout the Great Lake States. His work in AI focuses on deciphering complex sentiment from multimodal content, such as understanding image content and analyzing captions and tags posted by users, at scale. This research aims to provide objective measures of behavior and attitude for modeling diverse values and benefits of nature globally.


Accomplishments and Awards

Cheng Li

By |

My research focuses on developing advanced numerical models and computational tools to enhance our understanding and prediction capabilities for both terrestrial and extraterrestrial climate systems. By leveraging the power of data science, I aim to unravel the complexities of atmospheric dynamics and climate processes on Earth, as well as on other planets such as Mars, Venus, and Jupiter.

My approach involves the integration of large-scale datasets, including satellite observations and ground-based measurements, with statistical methods and sophisticated machine learning algorithms including vision-based large models. This enables me to extract meaningful insights and improve the accuracy of climate models, which are crucial for weather forecasting, climate change projections, and planetary exploration.

Jacob Allgeier

By |

My goal as an ecologist is to apply ecological theory to help solve real-world conservation issues. Specifically, I seek to identify the mechanisms by which behavioral, population, and community dynamics mediate nutrient and energy pathways. The objective is to improve our ability to predict ecological outcomes, and enhance conservation efficacy such as the sustainability of ecosystem services (e.g., fisheries). Much of this research takes place in tropical coastal ecosystems (mangroves, seagrass beds, and coral reefs) where I study gradients created by anthropogenic impacts to test theory directly within the context of environmental change and biodiversity loss. My research is broad and multifaceted, and includes a combination of extensive field-based research and computational analyses.The type of data we collect in the field has endless potential to be better understood through collaborations with MIDAS. I rely on (and very much enjoy) integrative collaborations across a variety of fields.

What are some of your most interesting projects?

We have recently generated one of the most extensive high-resolution dataset of fish movement in any system that we are aware of. We are using these data to understand the role of consumers in moving nutrient and energy through these ecosystems, and also to better understand the relative ecological importance of individual-level vs species-level variation.

What is the most significant scientific contribution you would like to make?

I would like to improve our ability to predict fish production in tropical coastal ecosystems to improve food security. I would also like to help improve our ability to manage seagrass ecosystems to maximize carbon sequestration and storage.

What makes you excited about your data science and AI research?

A central goal of my lab is to collect extremely high-end and extensive empirical data such that it can inform models that help us forecast ecological processes at the scales of entire ecosystems. We are currently using a suite of techniques to do so, including the use of individual-based modeling in particular. The type of data we are generating is absolutely ripe for being used with high-power data science and AI research. I honestly believe the applications are endless and would be extremely excited to team up with folks to build on these exciting possibilities.

What are some interesting facts about yourself?

Backpacking and woodworking are how I unwind. I love being outside, and I love doing field work.

Jacob Underwater

Studying our artificial reefs in Haiti

Tian An Wong

By |

Analysis of policing technology and police data, including impact assessment of surveillance technology, media sentiment analysis, and fatal police violence. Methods include topological data analysis, natural language processing, multivariate time series analysis, difference-in-differences, and complex networks.

 


Research Highlights

Runzi Wang

Runzi Wang

By |

Runzi Wang is a transdisciplinary researcher who studies change in natural and urban environments across space and over time, with the objective of driving positive change with ecological planning and design strategies. Combining technologies such as big data, machine learning, remote sensing, and spatial statistics, her primary research explores how land cover change and urban development pattern influence stream water quality and stormwater quality at the watershed basis, together with various environmental, climatic, and sociocultural factors. By enhancing the interpretability of machine learning in its application to landscape architecture, the most innovative part of her research is to uncover the nonlinear, interacted relationships between environmental, technological, and sociocultural dimensions of landscape systems.

What are some of your most interesting projects?

  1. I conducted the first continental-scale urban stream water quality study funded by MIDAS. We applied geospatial analysis to investigate the characteristics of the built environment (e.g., building footprint, street length, land use spatial pattern) associated with urban stream water quality, the social inequities regarding exposure to stream water contamination, as well as the spatial variations in the above processes. We developed data integration protocols for data from remote sensing products, in-situ observations, and the US Census Bureau. Using Bayesian hierarchical models, we concluded that watersheds with a higher percentage of minorities are associated with higher nutrient pollution, with the relationship being more significant in the American Northwest.
  2. I investigated how land use planning and best management practices mitigated climate change effects on Lake Erie’s water quality. With the integration of longitudinal watershed land cover, agricultural, and climatic data from 1985-2017, we found that no-tillage and reduced tillage management were effective mitigation strategies that could decrease water quality sensitivity to climate change. We plan to advance this work by fusing remote sensing-based bloom detection and process-based simulation to investigate how climate change, land cover change, and anthropogenic activities will impact the eutrophication of Lake Erie.

How did you end up where you are today?

I have a highly interdisciplinary background, receiving training in architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, statistics, hydrology and water quality, and broader social science topics. This forms my research topic to study the relationships between people, land, and water. Specifically, I study the interconnectedness between people living in the watershed, the land use and urban form of the watershed’s built form, the resulting water quality conditions, and the ecosystem services urban streams provide for people. This background also leverages many different methodologies in my work, including data science, hydrological models, social science methods, and so on. In addition, the most important thing about my research journey is that I have a few excellent friends/researchers who help me a lot on my way and make my research life inspiring and delightful most of the time.

 


Accomplishments and Awards

Arun Agrawal

Arun Agrawal

By |

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.


Accomplishments and Awards

 


Research Highlights