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, is an ecologist who combines 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. What motivates her work is recognition of the complexity of the relationship of humans and ecological systems. These relationships and their emergent properties can be studied at different spatial scales and levels of biological organization. Knowledge gained from field studies, geospatial data, and analysis can be used to build models that help scientists to understand the implications of human actions on the social and natural systems of which they are a part and particularly on the health of people and ecosystems.
Interim Dean; Professor
Dan Brown, PhD, currently serves as the Dean of SNRE. 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 SNRE 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 of Natural Resources and Environment 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.
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.
Visiting Assistant Professor
Dr. Narayanaraj has a wide range of research and teaching interests and experience in geospatial science, field biology, animal behavior and wildland fire ecology. His experiences have taken him to institutions and organizations in both tropical and temperate countries. His research interests currently focus on using geospatial techniques to map and model the spatial and temporal patterns of devil's gardens in the Amazon, created by ant plants inhabited by Myrmelachistaschumanni. He is also continuing his research on the lightning- and human-caused wildfire regimes at multiple scales using satellite remote sensing and Geographical Information Systems. He was raised in India's Western Ghats, a tropical mountainous region in Southwest India. Like his grandfather before him, his father was a forester at the Kalakad-Mundanthurai Wildlife Reserve. Their family has thus been involved in forest management and conservation of the Kalakad-Mundanthurai Wildlife Reserve for more than five decades.