Environmental Informatics Faculty
Aniket Aga, PhD, is three-year tenure with the Michigan Society of Fellows began in September 2016. He recently completed his PhD work in Sociocultural Anthropology at Yale University. His interests lie at the intersection of Science & Technology Studies (STS) and the Anthropology of Democracy. Aga's dissertation research focuses on the ongoing debate over Genetically Modified (GM) crops, in particular food crops, in India in order to analyze the relationship between science and politics in the world’s largest democracy.
Associate Research Scientist
Associate Research Scientist Kathy Bergen, PhD, works in the areas of human dimensions of environmental change; remote sensing, GIS and biodiversity Informatics; and environmental health and informatics. Her focus is on combining field and geospatial data and methods to study the pattern and process of ecological systems, biodiversity and health. She also strives to build bridges between science and social science to understand the implications of human actions on the social and natural systems of which we are a part.
Brown's research interests focus on land use change and its effects on ecosystems and on human vulnerability. This work connects a computer-based simulation (e.g., agent-based modeling) of land-use-change processes with GIS and remote sensing based data on historical patterns of landscape change and social surveys. Brown and colleagues are working to couple these models with GIS-based data and other models to evaluate consequences of change. They are also working to understand the ways in which land-use decisions are made. Collaborative research investigate the effects of spatial and social neighborhoods on the physical and social risks on human health.
Though most of Professor Brown's earlier work has been in the US, his work is becoming increasingly international, with projects in China, Africa, and India.
Research on land-cover and land-use change is funded by the NASA Land-Cover Land-Use Change Program and by programs at the National Science Foundation on Human and Social Dynamics (HSD) and the Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) and conducted in collaboration with colleagues in SEAS and in the Center for the Study of Complex Systems. Research on spatial aspects of public health is conducted in collaboration with colleagues in the School of Public Health and funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Bilal Butt, PhD, is an assistant professor at the School for Environment and Sustainability and a faculty affiliate of the African Studies Center. Bilal is a people-environment geographer with regional specialization in sub-Saharan Africa and technical expertise in geospatial technologies (GPS, GIS & Remote Sensing), ecological monitoring and social-scientific appraisals. His general research interests lie at the intersection of the natural and social sciences to answer questions of how people and wildlife are coping with, and adapting to changing climates, politics, livelihoods and ecologies in arid and semi-arid regions of sub-Saharan Africa. His current projects investigate: (1) the spatiality of livelihood strategies (resource access and utilization) among pastoral peoples under regimes of increasing climatic variability and uncertainty; (2) the nature of the relationships between wildlife and livestock in dry land pastoral ecosystems of East Africa - examining questions of wildlife-livestock competition; (3) violent and non-violent conflicts over natural resources, and; (4) how mobile information technologies such as cell phones influence natural resource management strategies among pastoral peoples in dry lands.
Bill Currie, PhD, is interested in interdisciplinary approaches to the study of the environment and the development of sustainability science. His research and scholarly interests include ecosystem ecology, biogeochemistry including carbon and nutrient cycling, physics and energetics, landscapes and coupled human-natural systems, land conservation and management, biofuels and food security, computational modeling and simulation, synthesis using models, and philosophical foundations of modeling.
Currie has a background in ecosystem ecology, biogeochemistry (nutrient and carbon cycling), energetics, systems dynamics modeling and individual-based / agent-based modeling. He is interested in using our current understanding in these fields to investigate ecosystem change and dynamics in coupled human-environment systems.
Currie studies the linkages among carbon, nutrient, and water cycling and energy flows and transformations in terrestrial ecosystems and human-environment systems. He is interested in using our current understanding of ecosystems to explore creative, new understanding of the two-way interactions in human-environment systems. He works at scales from field plots to landscapes, collaborating with other researchers and students to integrate understanding and build models for synthesis. The goal of this research is to contribute to the developing field of sustainability science using an approach that grows out of ecosystem science.
Assistant Professor Jain's research examines the impacts of environmental change on agricultural production, and strategies that farmers may adopt to reduce negative impacts. She does this by combining remote sensing and geospatial analyses with household-level and census datasets to examine farmer decision-making and behavior across large spatial and temporal scales. To date her work has focused on the impacts of weather variability and groundwater depletion on agricultural production in India, and whether farmers are able to adapt their cropping practices to mitigate these impacts.
Joshua Newell is an assistant professor in the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan. He is a broadly trained human-environment geographer, whose research focuses on questions related to urban sustainability, resource consumption, and environmental and social justice. Newell’s current research can be divided into two primary areas of interest. The first, Urban Infrastructure and Form, focuses on structural features of the urban form (e.g. built environment, transport, energy, and water infrastructure). The second research area, Urban Consumption and Commodities, focuses on the interrelationships between the consumption of consumer products, our responsibilities as global 'green' urban citizens, and the role of governance mechanisms and frameworks (including local institutions) in regulating product consumption. His research approach is often multi-scalar and integrative and, in addition to theory and method found in geography and urban planning, he draws upon principles and tools of industrial ecology, and spatial analysis. Joshua teachesSustainability and Society, a large undergraduate course, and Urban Sustainability, which is designed for MS and PhD students. He also leads a year-long interdisciplinary PhD student workshop that grapples with theories and concepts of urbanism, sustainability, and resilience.
Don is Professor of Environment and Sustainability and Professor of Environmental Engineering. From 2009-2016, he was the Graham Family Professor of Sustainability, Special Counsel to the U-M President for Sustainability, and Director of the Graham Sustainability Institute. He is a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability.
Don served previously as Research Associate Dean for SNRE, Director of Michigan Sea Grant, and Director of U-M’s cooperative institute with NOAA. Prior to coming to U-M in 2004, he held positions between 1975 and 2003 as Chief Scientist of NOAA's National Ocean Service, Director of the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, and a research scientist at NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.