WC-1 Models, Metrics and Data

Models are simplified representations of the real world as well as tools to guide decision-making. Data, both socioeconomic and biophysical, are what we measure occurring in the real world. Matching data to models is crucial if we are to understanding the criticalities of the FEW Nexus and the conditions in which technologies, policies, or management practices can create increased resilience, efficiency, and/or sustainability. This session will explore issues such as: choosing models that reflect the actions we should take to achieve desired future conditions; collecting data which reflects our values in terms of what we choose to model; and developing models which replicate the data we collect.


  • Michael Carbajales-Dale, Assistant Professor, Clemson University


  • Brian D. Fath, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Towson University
  • Günther Fischer, Senior Researcher, Food and Water Thematic Area, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
  • Elke Hodson, Policy Analyst, Office of Climate, Environment, and Efficiency, Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Carey King, Assistant Director, Energy Institute, University of Texas at Austin
  • Robin Newmark, Associate Laboratory Director, Energy Analysis and Decision Support, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • Laixiang Sun, Professor, Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland
  • Quanyan Zhu, Assistant Professor, New York University
  • David Brown, Fellow, Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), U.S. Department of Energy

Michael Carbajales-Dale heads the Energy-Economy-Environment (E3) Systems Analysis group. He joined Clemson University in August 2014 as an Assistant Professor in the Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences department. Before joining Clemson, Mik was an Energy Systems Analyst with Stanford’s Environmental Assessment & Optimization Lab and with the Global Climate & Energy Project (GCEP). His research focuses on the long-term, large-scale evolution and dynamics of the energy-economy system, especially how development of energy resources affects social development and the effects of a future transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. (864-656-0523; madale@clemson.edu)

Brian D. Fath is Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Towson University and a Research Scholar within the Advanced Systems Analysis Program at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria. His research is in the area of systems ecology and network analysis applied to the sustainability and resilience of socio-ecological systems. He has published more than 130 research papers, reports, and book chapters; co-authored three books; and is Associate Editor-in-Chief for Encyclopedia of Ecology. He is also Editor-in-Chief for the journal Ecological Modelling; President of the North American Chapter of International Society for Ecological Modelling; Chair of the Ecosystem Dynamics Focus Research Group in the Community Surface Modeling Dynamics System; and member and past Chair of Baltimore County Commission on Environmental Quality. (410-704-2535; bfath@towson.edu)

Günther Fischer is an expert in mathematical modeling of ecological-economic systems, econometrics, optimization, applied multi-criteria decision analysis, integrated systems and policy analysis, spatial agro-ecosystems modeling, and climate change impacts and adaptation. Professor Fischer helped develop the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis’s (IIASA’s) world food systems. He is collaborating with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and has contributed to many major UN studies, including Climate Change and Agricultural Vulnerability. In recent years, he has been conducting regional land use systems studies for policy support. (+43(0) 2236807292; fisher@iiasa.ac.at)

Elke Hodson is a policy analyst in the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Elke has led a diverse portfolio of activities at the DOE, including energy modeling for the Quadrennial Energy Review, Clean Power Plan, and the Paris Agreement; strategies for reducing methane emissions from natural gas systems, and long- and short-term strategies and analysis to achieve U.S. goals for economy-wide greenhouse gas mitigation. Before joining DOE in 2011 as an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow, she was a postdoctoral researcher at the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL. Elke graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2008 with a Ph.D. in climate physics and chemistry. (202-586-3622; Elke.Hodson@hq.doe.gov)

Carey W. King performs interdisciplinary research related to how energy systems interact within the economy and environment as well as how our policy and social systems can make decisions and tradeoffs among these often competing factors. The past performance of our energy systems is no guarantee of future returns, yet we must understand the development of past energy systems. Dr. King’s research goals center on rigorous interpretations of the past to determine the most probable future energy pathways. (512-471-5468; careyking@mail.utexas.edu; Twitter: @CareyWKing)

Robin Newmark leads the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s organization that develops analytic insights and information to inform energy systems policy and investment decisions, both domestically and internationally. Leading or contributing to programs involving energy, water and climate issues, she also advises such diverse groups as the U.S. – China Expert Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) Steering Committee, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the national laboratory Energy-Water Nexus consortium, is on the editorial board for Current Sustainable/Renewable Energy Reports (Springer) and a guest editor for Environmental Research Letters. (Robin.Newmark@nrel.gov)

Laixiang Sun has produced more than 120 research publications in environmental sciences and management, regional sciences and regional economics, integrated modelling, and ecological economics. He has been a leading scientist in a number of research projects sponsored by the EU; the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering, and the Royal Society in the UK; and the Chinese Academy of Sciences and National Natural Sciences Foundation of China. (301-405-8131; lsun123@umd.edu)

Quanyan Zhu’s work focuses on network models that provide a formal representation of interdependency relationships among different components, allowing quantitative methods for impacts and resilient infrastructure design. These models capture relationships and pathways through which indirect impacts of disruptions ripple through society and economies. Meta-network models are given, capturing physical, cyber and human interconnections in individual infrastructures and across multiple critical infrastructures. Effects on outcomes of prototypical disastrous events are assessed. (646-997-3371; quanyan.zhu@nyu.edu)

Dr. David Brown currently serves as an ARPA-E Fellow, where he works on developing new research programs. His particular focus is on the acceleration of agricultural breeding viaautomated, predictive and systems-level approaches: for improved biomass yield via the new TERRA program and for improved crop ecosystem impact and soil carbon sequestration via a forthcoming solicitation. The development of data analysis linkages and model representations between phenotypes, genotypes, and the environment is essential to realizing these goals. Prior to joining APRA-E, Dr. Brown was a Resnick Sustainability Institute Fellow at the California Institute of technology, where he developed novel thermoelectric materials. (David.R.Brown@hq.doe.gov)


  • Brian Fath, Professor, Towson University
  • Guenther Fischer, Senior Researcher, The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis(IIASA)
  • Carey King, Research Associate, University of Texas – Austin
  • Michael Carbajales-Dale, Assistant Professor, Clemson University

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