Research Interests

My research is at the intersection of ecology, data science, and decision theory. I synthesize data on ecosystems (e.g. biodiversity distributions), social systems (e.g., human perceptions) and institutions (e.g. governance structures) to understand how we can better, and more equitably, manage landscapes and seascapes under uncertainty and global environmental change. My research interests are largely captured by three main themes:

(1) Dynamics in social-ecological systems:

I leverage computational models and social science methods to explore the dynamics of social-ecological systems and examine how complex patterns can emerge from feedbacks between human decisions and ecological processes. I also empirically explore patterns of conservation decisions across space (e.g., across political boundaries) and time, to better understand the impact and efficacy of environmental policies. Most of my work on these problems uses the adoption of sustainable management practices on working landscapes as a case study.

(2) Environmental policy and management under uncertainty:

Our techniques for observing climate change and biodiversity loss are increasingly outpacing our capacity to respond to their drivers and mitigate their impacts. This part of my work focuses on leveraging methods from decision theory and computer science to make better decisions in the face of environmental uncertainty. I am particularly interested in how we make decisions that are spatial and sequential in non-stationary environmental systems.

(3) Ethics and practices of algorithmic approaches to environmental policy:

This part of my work critically explores conservation decision-making methods, including those addressed in (2). I situate the application of decision making technology to environmental science/policy problems in broader societal discussions about the power dynamics, transparency, and biases of data and algorithms. This part of my work also investigates the efficacy and influence of data-driven global conservation prioritization schemes in decision making about land and sea protection.


Millie Chapman

PhD Candidate