Monday, June 27, 2016

Gordon Research Conference Report

I am at the Gordon Research Conference on Environmental Sciences - Water in New Hampshire. Today I gave a talk about our research. In some ways this conference marks a 10 year anniversary for me. In 2006 I was here and presented my first poster on agent-based modeling (ABM) of phytoplankton. That was a real milestone, because since then this has been the defining theme of my research. In fact, that poster is still prominently displayed in my office :) 

A main goal of my presentation was to start a discussion about updating the biology in our water quality models. One reason for doing this is to bring models up to the level of modern observations (see figure below). When we first developed water quality models in the 1970s, people were measuring total phosphorus and chlorophyll a, and those were adopted as state variables in our model. Since then, observations have evolved and now observations include DNA, RNA, etc. However, our models have not kept up. This disconnect really limits the utility of our models, and I think it is leading to the extinction of a specialty: water quality modelers. A big problem, because most of our waterbodies are polluted and models are important tools for management and research in this area :(

Here is a link to the program:

Thursday, June 9, 2016

IAGLR Conference Report

I am in beautiful Guelph, Ontario, Canada for IAGLR's 59th annual Conference on Great Lakes Research. I was not planning on coming here, but my graduate student, Sahar Shirani, was not able to get a visa, so here I am. Today I presented Sahar’s research on the role of neutral evolution and dispersal limitation in the biogeography of Microcystis in the Great Lakes. Here are links to our abstract and the conference:

Monday, June 6, 2016

The journey continues: NRM paper is out

I am glad to announce that our latest review/opinion paper on agent-based modeling for microbes, written under the leadership of Jan Kreft, is now out in Nature Reviews Microbiology. This is the latest installment of “ABM for microbes” review papers, a journey that now spans almost a decade from Hellweger (2007) to Hellweger and Bucci (2009) to Kreft et al (2013) and now Hellweger et al (2016). Judging from the Impact Factor of the journals these papers were published in, the importance of this subject is increasingly being recognized (see figure below). If you are still using concepts from chemistry to model biology or ecology - STOP. Join the revolution!

Hellweger et al. (2016)

Kreft et al. (2013)

Hellweger and Bucci (2009)

Hellweger (2007)