Socio-Ecological System Analysis

Humanity is now strongly influencing almost every part of the Earth System to the extent that human activities been reframed by some as a geological force creating a new geological era: the Anthropocene. Understanding the dynamic inter-relationships and entanglement between human systems and the wider Earth system – what we call socio-ecological systems – is of critical importance to determining our future choices and achieving sustainability. One of my research areas concerns analysing and modelling how these systems – in particular agroecosystems – change over time, how they interact with wider socioeconomic trends (e.g. globalisation), and what needs to happen for them to become sustainable in the future. I’m also interested in the dynamics of past socio-ecological systems, in order to understand the determinants of either their resilience or in some cases collapse.

Post-Doc 1.1: Sustainable Intensification and Ecosystems Services in Agroecosystems (Uni. Southampton, 2015-16)
Just after my PhD I started out as a Post-Doctoral Research Assistant at the University of Southampton on a project entitled “Sustainability assessment of agriculture and ecosystem services in England and Wales: an integrated systems approach” with PI Prof. John Dearing and Co-Is James Dyke, Les Firbank, and Guy Poppy. In this work we aggregated publicly available data relating to English regional agriculture and environmental degradation in order to ascertain the evolution of the English (and sub-regional) agroecosystem in recent decades. Data analysis revealed strong trends and relationships between different agroecosystem components (e.g. agricultural intensification, changing fertiliser practice, pollution, & biodiversity) which we used to develop a conceptual dynamical systems model. As a side to this project I also helped to analyse data relating to agroecosystem trends in rural China.

Post-Doc 1.3: Ecosystem services and poverty: macroscale controls (Uni. Southampton, 2016-17)
I worked as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate with PI Prof. John Dearing, analysing public global datasets showing trends in ecosystem services and poverty alleviation in order to test alternative models on potential trade-offs between the two. In particular, we were interested in comparing the observed trends with different models of socioeconomic impacts on environmental degradation (e.g. whether there’s evidence for Environmental Kuznets Curves, Resource Traps, etc., or the impact of Globalisation). A paper on this is in prep.

Post-Doc 1.5: Reducing vulnerabilities of coastal communities in Bangladesh via the promotion of co-operation social institutions: a microinsurance approach (Uni. Southampton, 2017-18)
In my last Southampton Postdoc project with PI Dr. James Dyke I developed a prototype Agent-Based Model (ABM) of the implementation of agroecological microinsurance co-operatives in coastal Bangladesh as a means of improving the resilience of their livelihoods in the face of climate change and predatory competition. While this hasn’t led to a public paper as of yet, it introduced me to the fundamentals and potentials of Agent-Based Modelling.