Environmental Informatics Faculty Profiles
Associate Research Scientist
I am affiliated with the SNRE Environmental Spatial Analysis Laboratory (ESALab) and the Children's Environmental Health Initiative (CEHI; a partnership of Rice University, the University of Michigan SNRE & Medical School, and Duke University).
I am an ecologist who combines field and geospatial data and methods to study the pattern and process of ecological systems, biodiversity and health. I also strive to build bridges between science and social science. What motivates my 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 and to understand the implications of human actions on the social and natural systems of which they are a part and particularly on health of people and ecosystems.
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. We are working to couple these models with GIS-based data and other models to evaluate consequences of change. We 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.
Bilal Butt 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, livelihoods and ecologies in 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; (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 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.
Professor and Director of the Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute
Research interests include the effects of natural and anthropogenic stresses on Great Lakes and marine ecosystems, with a focus on the use of models and integrated assessments in transferring knowledge to the decision-making process. Teaching interests include the roles of conveying uncertainty, peer review, stakeholder input, interpreting trends, prediction, scale, and government interaction in developing and applying Integrated Scientific Assessments.