Study Programme and Faculty

Structure and Content of the school

  • Theory of coupled human-environmental systems
  • Basics of integrated modeling and k. LAB software instruction
  • The k.IM semantic language and collaborative modeling
  • Ecosystem services modeling in k.LAB
  • Analysis and interpretation of results

Faculty at current ISU 2019 edition

Ferdinando Villa
Director of the School, Project leader
Ikerbasque Professor at BC3, Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3), Bilbao, Spain

I started out as a theoretical ecologist and had a long parallel career as a scientific software designer and engineer. After working in many fields of ecology, from theoretical island biogeography to spatially-explicit decision analysis, I discovered the joys and pains of interdisciplinary research during a 15-year stint in ecological economics at the universities of Maryland and Vermont. After moving back to my beloved Europe for a tenured position in 2010, I still find it a challenge – and a responsibility – to maintain scientific depth unaltered in face of a greatly increased breadth. My research sits at the multi-faceted interface of linguistics, computer science, social science, ecology and economics, concentrating on artificial intelligence approaches to assist environmental decision making and natural system assessment and valuation. I have collaborated with many international institutions and governments and authored or coauthored 150+ scientific publications. I still spend time coding, and have authored a number of major open source software packages. I have been the recipient major research grants from the US National Science Foundation, the European Union, The UK NERC, UNEP-WCMC and other institutions and NGOs, all aiming to contribute to the science of coupled natural/human systems and to build effective technologies for decision makers that take sound science and “democratize” it by putting it at the fingertips of decision makers worldwide.

Brian Wordpress
Brian Voigt
Researcher/Professor at Rubenstein School for the Environment and Natural Resources, USA.

I am a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont’s Gund Institute for Ecological Economics where I work primarily on the development and application of computer-based systems for modeling land-use change and the interaction between humans and their environment. Other research interests include: ecosystem services and natural hazards, addressing existing and emerging environmental issues through participatory modeling and spatial analysis, and creating knowledge to facilitate improved environmental management. My current research topics include modeling freshwater ecosystem services and the spread of infectious disease in Tanzania, modeling environmental trade-offs resulting from alternative development patterns in Chittenden County, Vermont, quantifying the value of clean water in the Lake Champlain Basin, and exploring impacts on recreation from oil, gas and potash development in the Moab, Utah region.

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Stefano Balbi
Research Fellow at BC3, Basque Centre for Climate Change, Bilbao, Spain

I am a Research Fellow at BC3. Since completing my Master’s in Environmental Economics, I’ve been studying interactions between human and natural systems from a holistic perspective, in which theories and approaches from both social and environmental scientific practice are integrated to overcome disciplinary boundaries and provide more accurate representations of behaviors, spatial dependencies and temporal dynamics. This emphasis led me to pursue a Ph.D. in Analysis and Governance of Sustainable Development and to direct my interests towards cutting edge research in human geography, making use of computationally intensive, non-equilibrium methods to explore the complexity of social-ecological systems (SES).

Zuzana Harmackova

I’m a Postdoctoral Researcher at Stockholm Resilience Centre, focusing on ecosystem services, scenarios of future development in social-ecological systems and resilience variables. Previously, I did my PhD at CzechGlobe – Global Change Research Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences, working on multiple types of ecosystem-service assessments, including modelling ecosystem services trade-offs for local landscape planning in UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in the Czech Republic and mapping ecosystem services for the purposes of ecosystem accounting (SEEA-EEA) in Kyrgyzstan. I have been involved in the IPBES Regional Assessment for Europe and Central Asia and IPBES Assessment on Diverse Conceptualization of Values of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Ken Bagstad
Researcher at U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, USA

I’m a Research Economist with the U.S. Geological Survey, working with the USGS to account for nature’s value in decision making by U.S. Federal government agencies, and serving as co-PI on a project to develop natural capital accounts for the United States. From 2015-2016 I was a Senior Environmental Specialist with the World Bank’s Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) program. As part of this work I have helped lead teams developing natural capital accounts for Rwanda, Costa Rica, and Colombia, and have also advised the United Nations Statistics Division on revisions to the System of Environmental-Economic Accounts/Experimental Ecosystem Accounts. Since 2010, I have partnered with agencies including the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and USDA Forest Service on ecosystem service assessments at sites across the U.S. Since 2007, I’ve served as a lead modeler for the Artificial Intelligence for Ecosystem Services (ARIES) program, and led the comparative analysis of ecosystem services using multiple other assessment tools. I hold a PhD in ecological economics from the University of Vermont.

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Marta Pascual
Guest Researcher at BC3, Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3), Bilbao, Spain

I am a Guest Researcher at BC3 (PhD, MSc Marine Environment & Resources (MER), BSc Biology) and I am also a Senior Associate at Ecorys Spain and the Spanish National Hub for the EU WestMed Innitiative. I am a former Support Team Member for the West Med Team and the EU MSP Platform where I was responsible for those activities related to Blue Growth, Blue Economy and Maritime Spatial Planning at the Western part of the Mediterranean Sea. I was also involved at the Technical Study team for the “Study of Blue Growth and MSP”. I am a former Ikerbasque Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3), former visiting academic at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED; University of Queensland – Australia) and former Support Team representative of the Spanish National Unit of the Atlantic Action Plan. I have more than 10 years of professional experience in different lines of marine and coastal research applied to Marine Spatial Planning (MSP); Blue Growth and Blue Economy; Ecosystem Services Mapping/Modelling; Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM); Biological Valuation (BV) and Ecosystem Services Valuation (ESV). I have participated as a researcher in the following projects: MESMA (Monitoring and Evaluation of Spatially Managed Areas); PERSEUS (Policy-oriented marine Environmental Research for the Southern European Seas); CoCoNET (Towards COast to COast NETworks of marine protected areas); GEF -Integration of climatic variability and change into national strategies to implement the ICZM Protocol in the Mediterranean; MARE/2013/11: Assistance Mechanism for the Atlantic Action Plan; AQUACROSS (Knowledge, Assessment and Management for Aquatic Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services across EU policies).

Alba Márquez Torres
PhD Candidate Researcher at BC3, Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3), Bilbao, Spain

I graduated in Environmental Science and I hold a Master’s degree in Geomatics, GIS and Remote Sensing (Optic, LiDAR and SAR). My work focused on finding creative and innovative solutions to environmental problems through the use of Remote Sensing and GIS analysis. Since 2011 I have collaborated with several institutions and research groups as CSIC (Spanish National Research Council) in Barcelona, CTFC (Forest Science and Technology Centre of Catalonia) in Solsona or ERSAF (Assessment and Restoration of Agricultural and Forest Systems) at the University of Cordoba and on international institutions as ELSA team (Environment Life Cycle and Sustainability Assessment) at École SupAgro of Montpellier. During the last 3 years, I have worked in a private R&D company supported by Córdoba University called IDAF (Centre for Research Applied to Agroforestry Development). I have managed, led and developed projects related to forests and cartography. I’ve given specialization courses on LiDAR.

Enrico Girotto
Enrico Girotto
Developer at BC3, Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3), Bilbao, Spain

I’m a software developer, born in Italy and living in Basque Country, with more than 20 years of experience. I started developing web pages at the beginning of the web 2.0 revolution. After that, I have been teaching computer science and developing in several programming languages and with different technologies, from digital newspaper to traffic applications, from mobile app to business intelligence. This journey has allowed me to join the ARIES team in March 2018 as front-end and back-end developer.

Faculty at previous ISU editions

Ainhoa Magrach
Ikerbasque Researcher at BC3, Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3), Bilbao, Spain.

I am a community ecologist with a research emphasis on the effects of human activities on biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and the delivery of ecosystem services. Throughout my career I have combined the study of forest fragmentation, selective logging and agricultural expansion across temperate and tropical locations. I am particularly interested in the use of pollinators as model systems, due to their key role in ecosystem functioning by mediating plant reproduction of both wild and crop plant species.

Simon Willcock
Lecturer at  Bangor University, United Kingdom.

I am a Lecturer in Environmental Geography at Bangor University, United Kingdom. My research interests focus on the interaction between people and nature; including monitoring, modelling and mapping natural resources and their use to help achieve sustainable use, with a particular focus on African tropical forests, food security and migration. Examples of my past work include two Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) projects (namely Attaining Sustainable Services from Ecosystems through Trade-off Scenarios (ASSETS) and Which Ecosystem Service Models Best Capture the Needs of the Rural Poor (WISER)), and the Valuing the Arc project (which aimed to improve knowledge of the ecosystem services provided by the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania, of their contribution to human welfare, and to find solutions to managing these services in a sustainable way). 

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Javier Martínez-López
Researcher at CSIC, Spain.

I am a Biologist with a MSc on Freshwater Ecosystems Management and Assessment (University of Murcia, Spain) and a MSc on Environmental Engineering and Consulting (EOI – Escuela de Organizacion Industrial, Spain). In 2014 I received my PhD in Ecology on the topic “Modelling and establishment of plant indicators of ecological status for semiarid mediterranean saline wetlands” from the Ecology and Hydrology department of the University of Murcia. My main research topics are landscape ecology, remote sensing, ecosystem services and spatio-temporal ecosystem modeling using several open source programming languages, such as R, Python and GRASS GIS. I have worked on several projects, such as the ‘Integrated Modelling for the Sustainable Management of the Mar Menor lagoon’, the ‘Application of the European Water Framework and the Natura 2000 Network on the Segura Basin’ and the ‘Millenium Ecosystem Asessment in Spain.’ I also coordinated several international environmental projects as a project manager at ttz-Bremerhaven, Germany. I was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission working in Ispra, Italy, on the Digital Observatory for Protected Areas (DOPA) developing spatial biophysical habitat models and indicators for monitoring the state and pressures of protected areas globally (eHabitat+).  I have worked at BC3 (Basque Centre for Climate Change) for the AQUACROSS project and currently I am working at the SWC group at CEBAS-CSIC.

Ioannis N. Athanasiadis
Researcher/Professor at Wageningen University

I am Assistant Professor with the Information Technology Group at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Previously, I was a faculty member with the Democritus University of Thrace, Greece, and a Researcher with the Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Switzerland. I investigate complex environmental applications of computer science and the enabling role of computer science for investigating nature.  My areas of expertise include ecoinformatics, integrated modelling, data and model interoperability, intelligent systems, agents, decision support systems, knowledge engineering, metadata and ontologies and machine learning. My work has been applied in several domains, including agriculture, water management, air quality, ecosystem services, tourism, and meteorology. I also serve as an Editor of Environmental Modelling and Software, a scholar journal published by Elsevier.

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Luke Scott
Software Developer, Seattle, USA

I’m a Software Engineer from Seattle, USA, with over 10 years of industry experience prior to returning to academia to complete a Masters program in Computer Science at the University of Luxembourg with a focus on Intelligent Systems and Green IT. I received my B.A. in Economics at The University of Washington and have since worked as a consultant and developer in Seattle and the Bay Area.

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