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Group leader


Prof. Richard Bailey - Professor of Environmental Systems, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford; Fellow and Dean, St. Catherine's College, Oxford; Co-Director, Oxford Martin School Programme on Sustainable Oceans; Senior Research Fellow, INET Oxford; Research Associate, Centre for Ocean Solutions, Stanford University. Richard has broad interests in human-environmental systems, both theoretical and applied, and is mostly focused on issues associated with oceans. He builds and uses analytical and computational models of various kinds, to better understand the underlying dynamics of these systems, and to promote their sustainable use.

Post-doctoral Fellows


Dr Ernesto Carrella - Ernesto Carrella codes agent-based models. He is currently working on POSEIDON, a computational model of fisheries. He maintains the R package freelunch for estimating agent-based models using reference-table methods. Ernesto holds a PhD in Computational Social Science from George Mason University and a M.Sc in Econometrics from Illinois. Ernesto originally coded supply chain simulations where he simulated price adjustments by simple adaptive firms through the use of PID controllers. Ernesto prefers Java, strict object oriented discipline and has lots of opinions about which design patterns work best for agent-based modelling. 

Dr Nicolas Payette - Nicolas is a programmer with a background in philosophy and agent-based modelling. He is working on the POSEIDON agent-based model, expanding its capabilities with specific applications to the improved sustainability of Pacific tuna fisheries. Nicolas prefers functional programming and seeks beauty in code. He has a special fondness for the Scala and Julia languages. Nicolas has contributed to the development of the NetLogo modelling platform and is the author of a handful of NetLogo extensions.

Dr Toby Pilditch - Toby is a cognitive psychologist, working on the incorporation of individual and population level reasoning and decision making within the context of several classes of issues associated with environmental change, sustainable use of resources, and democratic processes.  Toby uses various modelling techniques (e.g., Agent-Based Models, and Bayesian Networks), and experimental methods to derive, validate, and implement authentic cognitive machinery.  He previously held a postdoctoral position in the Experimental Psychology Department at University College London, working on probabilistic and causal reasoning, belief updating and cognitive biases in the domain of intelligence analysis for the US Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA).  Complimenting his work at CoHESyS, Toby continues his research into reasoning, belief updating, and biases as an Honorary Research Fellow at UCL, where he additionally supervises various MSc projects, and guest lectures. He holds a PhD in Experimental Psychology (UCL), an MSc in Cognitive and Decision Sciences (UCL), and a BSc in Psychology (Cardiff University).

Jenny Richards - Jenny is a researcher and Supernumerary Teaching Fellow in Physical Geography at St John's College. Her research focuses on understanding: i) how interactions between the environment and heritage can result in material damage to a site, ii) how these interactions may change under future climates and iii) the impact of potential conservation strategies on minimising damage. She uses a variety of modelling, laboratory and field-based approaches to inform her research. She has a BA in Geography and a DPhil in Science and Engineering in Arts Heritage and Archaeology from the University of Oxford and a MRes from UCL.

Emily Neil - Emily’s research focusses on how we can provide a firm theoretical basis for recovering the health of degraded ecosystems. In collaboration with the Knepp Estate, she is currently developing a model to assess the ecosystem-wide impacts of rewilding. Emily holds a B.A. in Biology and Opera Performance from Vanderbilt University and an MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation, and Management from the University of Oxford. Her past experience includes working on the Conservation Team at the Born Free Foundation, where she led projects to assess the threats to a population of elephants at the Babile Elephant Sanctuary, Ethiopia, and establishing a research site for the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology, to study chimpanzee behaviour and tool-use at Monts de Cristal National Park, Gabon.

Maike Nowatzki - Maike is a DPhil student supervised by Professors David Thomas and Richard Bailey at Oxford's School of Geography and the Environment. She studies desert dune morphology and its drivers in southern Africa using Convolutional Neural Networks and satellite remote sensing. Maike holds a BSc in Geography and an MSc in Physical Geography from the University of Tübingen (Germany). Her interest in drylands and desert dunes was fostered during her MSc thesis in cooperation with the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry where she studied dunes in southeastern Kazakhstan using satellite remote sensing and machine learning methods as well as Optically Stimulated Luminescence dating.


Dr Jens Koed Madsen - Jens was a postdoc in CoHESys for five years, as part of the OMS Sustainable Oceans project (POSEIDON model) and also worked on the belief persistence in social networks project. His background is in cognitive psychology (PhD from University College London) and rhetorical theory (BA and MA from the University of Copenhagen). Jens currently works at LSE, details available here.

Ashleigh Arton - Ashleigh Arton worked on incorporating alternative fisher behaviour in the POSEIDON model in order to understand how this impacts the effectiveness of management interventions. In particular she is investigating the effects of different fisher goals, other than profit maximisation, and heterogeneity. Ashleigh has a B.Soc.Sci in Politics Philosophy and Economics and a postrgraduate degree in Environmental and Geographical Science from the University of Cape Town. She currently works as a senior research analyst at the Marine Stewardship Council.

Dr Catherine Buckland - Catherine is a post-doctoral research fellow, working with Prof. Dave Thomas on mapping the potential uptake of CAM biofuels in Africa using GIS techniques. Catherine completed her DPhil at the University of Oxford (supervised by Richard Bailey and Dave Thomas), working on landscape stability in the Nebraska Sandhills, using a range of field, laboratory (optical dating), and modelling methods (e.g. artificial neural networks) to measure and simulate landscape response to past and future changes in climatic conditions and anthropogenic uses. Catherine has previous experience working with financial modelling in the corporate banking sector and holds a MSc Quaternary Science (RHUL) and MA in Geography (University of Oxford).  

Tommy Lees - Tommy Lees is a DPhil Student (supervised by Prof. Simon Dadson) studying drought in East Africa. He combines Earth Observation, Climate Model and Land Surface Model data to investigate the drivers, mechanisms and impacts of droughts. He hopes to combine physically-based and statistical models to identify patterns in historical drought, and use the identified patterns to consider how droughts will react to a changing climate. In terms of impacts, he is particularly interested in monitoring agricultural losses. He has a BA in Geography from the University of Oxford and is always keen to work together with others to learn new techniques and skills.

Ranu Sinha - Ranu Sinha is a DPhil Student (supervised by Prof. Simon Dadson and Prof. Robert Hope) studying impacts of irrigation modernisation in Madhya Pradesh, India. She combines econometric analysis, agent-based modelling and qualitative methods to understand multi-dimensional impacts of infrastructure-led investments in irrigation modernisation. She aims to identify how investments, changes in rainfall patterns drive changes in farmer behavior around water use at the farm-level. In terms of impacts, she is collaborating with the COHESYS team to understand how social networks among farmers drive preferences for adopting agricultural technologies. She has a MPhil in Water Science Policy Management from the University of Oxford, a Masters in Public Administration and Economic Policy from LSE and a BA in International Relations from Bentley University. 

Dr Richard Grenyer - Associate Professor, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford

Prof Giles Wiggs - Professor of Aeolian Geomorphology, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford

Prof. Joy Singarayer - Joy is professor of (palaeo)-climatology at the University of Reading. She is interested in a broad range of questions about interactions between human activities, land use, and climate, as well as how we can use knowledge of past environmental and societal change to benefit future generations. She has a DPhil from the University of Oxford and an MPhys from Imperial College, London.

Joe Hirst - Joe is a PhD student at the University of Reading (supervised by Prof. Frank Mayle, Prof. Joy Singarayer and Dr. Umberto Lombardo) researching the impacts of past human activity on the ecosystems of the Llanos de Mojos, Bolivia. His interests lie in improving our understanding of these interactions by using two distinct approaches: Palaeoecological proxy reconstruction and Agent-based modelling. He has a MSc in Quaternary Science from Royal Holloway, University of London, and a BSc in Geography from King’s College London. 

Past members

Dr Wenfeng Feng - Feng worked on ecosystem stability, using analytical and numerical methods, in particular studying the stability of mutualistic systems.

Dr Kirsty McGregor - Kirsty worked on ecosystem stability, analysing compiled empirical ecosystem data.

Dr Jerome Mayaud - Jerome completed a DPhil (doctorate) exploring dryland landscape evolution and stability. He used a combination of fieldwork and modelling to better understand how plants, sand and wind interact in deserts. Together with co-supervisors Richard Bailey and Prof. Giles Wiggs, Jerome developed the Vegetation and Sediment Transport (ViSTA) model. He holds a BA in Geography from the University of Oxford, and a Masters in Polar Studies from the University of Cambridge. He is currently Lead Data Scientist at Spare.

Charles Oakley - Undergraduate (BA Geography), worked on the POSEIDON model, looking at fisheries policy analysis for his undergraduate dissertation.

Rufin Nowers - Undergraduate (BA Geography), worked on belief persistence in social networks for his undergraduate dissertation.

Emma Day - Emma was an MSc student in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management. She worked on building a Probabilistic Graphical Model of assumptions underpinning the Marine Stewardship Council’s theory of change. She holds a Bachelor of Philosophy (Science) from the Australian National University.

Lauren Neville - Lauren was an MSc student in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management. She worked on building a Bayesian belief network to understand the impact of conflicting evidence and source credibility on individual beliefs abut climate change.

Dr Jesse van der Grient - Jesse worked on the OSIRIS project, on ecosystem structure, and parameterising the model using data from the California Current System. She obtained her DPhil at the University of Oxford, which was focused on deep-sea ecology, and her BA in Biological Sciences at the University of Oxford. She is currently based at the University of Hawaii. Further information here.

Dr Adam Formica - Adam completed his DPhil (doctorate) student searching for effective policies against deforestation. He built an agent-based models of deforestation and its impacts on livelihoods and biodiversity to identify optimal policies robust to uncertainty. His background is in spatial analysis and optimization of environmental data. He has an MPhil in Geography from the University of Oxford and a BA in Environmental Science from Columbia University. He currently works at Sensonomic.


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