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I obtained the equivalent of a Bachelor's and a professional degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of Chile, where I’m originally from. I obtained a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Michigan under the guidance of Dr. Mercedes Pascual.
I’m broadly interested in understanding the dynamical consequences of the feedback that emerges in coupled human-natural systems that are under high environmental variability. Most of my research is conducted in semi-desert environments, where climate variability and human vulnerability are usually the highest. At Michigan I conducted research to understand how changes in agricultural development, especially irrigation, influence the dynamics of malaria epidemics in the semi-desert region of Northwest India.
I’m dedicating my time at SESYNC to studying how cooperation behavior is shaped in semi-desert environments. Theoretical studies have shown that cooperators tend to increase in number under poor environmental conditions. However, it is not clear what type of strategies are more likely to emerge in areas under high environmental stress and how these strategies influence the structure and maintenance of semi-desert ecosystems. To answer these questions, I am studying a group of 200 rural communities in the semi-desert region of Chile, in a gradient of environmental degradation and rainfall variability. I am developing agent-based models to specifically ask how the cooperation strategies that emerge are maintained and change over time in such a gradient of scarcity. In my research I use computational, mathematical and statistical models, as well as remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) to combine both data analysis and theoretical insights.
|The rise and fall of malaria under land-use change in frontier regions||
Mar 20, 2017
Article published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.
|A Framework for Mapping and Comparing Behavioural Theories in Models of Social-Ecological Systems||
Jan 01, 2017
Article published in Ecological Economics.
|Human Social Behavior and Demography Drive Patterns of Fine-Scale Dengue Transmission in Endemic Areas of Colombia||
Dec 14, 2015
Article published in PLoS ONE.
|Sustainable water management under future uncertainty with eco-engineering decision scaling||
Sep 14, 2015
Article published in Nature Climate Change.
|A simple example of a socio-environmental system: coupled rabbit and farm dynamics||
Jan 12, 2015
Quantitative models are excellent tools for understanding the dynamics of complex socio-environmental systems (SES), and for explicating those dynamics in a meaningful way to students. Here we utilize both a dynamical and an agent-based model to examine a suite of human-environment interactions in a hypothetical SES. Specifically, the hypothetical SES involves the management of rabbit populations while maximizing nearby farm productivity and profitability. The purpose of this exercise is to demonstrate how manipulating different components of these two alternative models can help students visualize and analyze key features of the SES, such as feedbacks and adaptation. The models also allow students to assess how different decisions, like implementing certain policies, influence tradeoffs and synergies in the SES.