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global change

Exploring the potential of remote sensing to estimate peatland carbon emissions (News)

Peatlands store large amounts of terrestrial carbon and any changes to their carbon balance could cause large changes in the greenhouse gas balance of the Earth's atmosphere. There is still much uncertainty about how the GHG d ... Read more

Corporate culture can impact the benefits of workplace sharing (News)

Researchers from the James Hutton Institute have discovered the apparent benefits of workplace sharing with regards to reducing commuting times and CO2 emissions can be negated by corporate culture and organisational structure. ... Read more

NEWBIE - New Entrant NetWork: Best New Entrant Business Award (Project)

Annual competitions will be held in each country to identify successful new approaches that show innovative new entrant business models. Applicants will be able to apply for the award (see below for eligibility) a short list will ... Read more

NEFERTITI: Networking European Farms to Enhance Cross Fertilisation and Innovation Uptake through Demonstration (2018-2021) (Project)

NEFERTITI will establish an EU-wide highly connected network of well-specified demonstration and pilot farms, which is designed to enhance thematic knowledge exchange, cross fertilisation among actors and efficient innovation upta ... Read more

NEWBIE - New Entrant netWork: Business models for Innovation, entrepreneurship and resilience in European agriculture (2018-2021) (Project)

The overall goal of the NEWBIE network is to enable new entrants to successfully establish sustainable farm businesses in Europe. ... Read more

Prospects for North East Scotland’s land-based industries outlined in report (News)

Is the land-based sector in North East Scotland resilient enough to face future challenges? This question, along with many others, is at the centre of a report commissioned by the North East Scotland Agricultural Advisory Group (N ... Read more

Global Research Alliance Modelling Platform unveiled on World Environment Day (News)

A free, open source modelling platform that seeks to become a vibrant network of agricultural greenhouse gas researchers, model developers and students has been launched on World Environment 2015. ... Read more

So really, what does ‘natural’ actually mean? (News)

We all think we have some idea of what ‘natural’ is, whether it’s the green meadows we pass by on the train or the fresh and colourful vegetables we pick out in the market. However, our countryside and the food w ... Read more

Mexico and UK in joint effort against plant diseases (News)

Plant diseases cost the world enough food to feed at least half a billion people, equivalent to 100 times the population of Scotland, every year. The interaction between plants, microbes and insects is a key battleground in the gl ... Read more

Decline in wheat yields likely due to changing climate (News)

Global wheat production can be expected to fall by 6% for each degree centigrade of temperature increase together with increased variability of yield across regions and seasons; that is the main finding of an international consort ... Read more

Books and Book Chapters (Research Page)

Water Ecosystem Services - A Global Perspective ... Read more

Slovenian researchers visit to discuss CropSustaIn progress (News)

Researchers from the Agricultural Institute of Slovenia (AIS) visited the James Hutton Institute as part of the CropSustaIn project, which looks into alternatives for sustainable crop production in Slovenia in the face of global c ... Read more

Soils@Hutton - Soil and food security (Research Page)

Soils & Sustainable production ... Read more

Soils@Hutton - Soil and Climate Change (Research Page)

Learn more about soils & climate change ... Read more

Scottish research helps tackle global and local agricultural challenges (News)

Researchers at the James Hutton Institute have endorsed and repeated the view of this week’s high-profile Development Dialogues conference in New York that work to ‘climate-proof’ agriculture lies at the core of ... Read more

The Atlantic Maritime Croplands – sustainability and environment (Research Page)

A case study on sustainable agriculture and the environment at the James Hutton Institute ... Read more

Vibrant Rural Communities workshop (Research Page)

A workshop was held at Birnam Arts and Conference Centre on 20 November 2013 to provide an update on research being conducted as part of the Vibrant Rural Communities theme of the Food, Land and People Strategic Research programme ... Read more

HUNTing for Sustainability (Project)

Project aim The overall goal of the project ‘Hunting for Sustainability’ was to assess the social, cultural, economic and ecological functions and impacts of hunting across a broad range of contexts in Europe and Afr ... Read more

Towards European Societal Sustainability (TESS) (Project)

The aim of TESS is to investigate the role of community-based transition initiatives in fostering a more low-carbon and sustainable Europe. TESS is a European Union project funded under the Seventh Framework Pr ... Read more

Foodscapes (Project)

Project aim Foodscapes aims to explore how arts intervention and cultural engagement can help address social and economic exclusion, food poverty, and sustainability. It has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Counci ... Read more

FarmPath – Farming Transitions: Pathways towards regional sustainability of agriculture in Europe (Project)

The overall goal of FarmPath is to identify and assess future transition pathways towards regional sustainability of agriculture in Europe, and the social and technological innovation needs required to initiate and progress along ... Read more

Soils and climate change (Research Page)

The climate is changing in response to the increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. While the burning of fossil fuels has made a major contribution to the levels of carbon dioxide, soils have been respo ... Read more

Community-based Management of Environmental challenges in Latin America (Research Page)

COMET-LA was a project coordinated by the University of Cordoba and funded under the European Commission Framework Programme 7. The acronym stands for “COmmunity-based Management of EnvironmenTal challenges in Latin America& ... Read more

Sand dune communities and climate change (Research Page)

Scotland’s sand dune vegetation has been assessed to investigate species distribution in relation to ecological variables. The response of the vegetation is modelled to assess if ecosystem processes and species distribution ... Read more

Information and Computational Sciences
Information and Computational Sciences
Human-Natural Systems Research Scientist
gary.polhill@hutton.ac.uk
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Craigiebuckler
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK

 

Current research interests

I specialise in agent-based modelling of socio-environmental systems, and rigorous approaches to their design and interpretation. Agent-based modelling involves explicit representation of individuals and their interactions, observing the emergent effects these have on the dynamics of the system. It is a relatively new technique, offering an alternative to more traditional approaches to formal analysis of social systems. Within this context, I am particularly interested in options for managing environmental change in coupled human-natural systems through incentive schemes, but in the context of other drivers of human behaviour. We have developed models that can simulate and compare the effects of different rules for incentivising land managers on biodiversity at the landscape scale, whilst varying other drivers of decision change, such as markets, climate and social norms. I have also worked on agent-based modelling of lifestyles, pro-environmental behaviours and transitions to more sustainable ways of living, and current work is examining value chains and resilience in Scottish and Norwegian rural systems.

A key issue in developing models of this kind is transparency, and I am interested in the role of formal ontologies in describing and annotating simulation models and experiments. This is work I have developed in projects with the University of Aberdeen and in subsequent projects.

Past research

I have been involved in a number of international and inter- and transdisciplinary research projects, listed below (note that for older projects links are liable to get mothballed):

  • The CAVES (Complexity, Agents, Volatility, Evidence and Scale) project (2005-2008) was funded by the European Commission's Sixth Framework Programme New and Emerging Science and Technology Pathfinder Initiative on Tackling Complexity in Science.
  • PolicyGrid (2006-2009) and PolicyGrid II (2009-2012) were collaborations with the University of Aberdeen funded by the Economic and Social Research Council through the National Centre for e-Social Science. This work also led to a short project called SwarmCloud with the aim of grid-enabling the FEARLUS model. (See also PolicyGrid and PolicyGrid II entry on ESRC's research catalogue.)
  • The GILDED (Governance, Infrastructure, Lifestyle Dynamics and Energy Demand) project (2008-2012) was funded by the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme.
  • The LOCAW (Low Carbon at Work: Modelling Agents and Organisations to Achieve Transition to a Low Carbon Europe) project (2011-2013) was funded by the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme.
  • The MIRACLE (Mining Relationships Among Variables in Large Datasets from Complex Systems) project (2014-2015) was funded by Round 3 of the Digging into Data Challenge. The UK contribution was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council via Jisc.
  • The GLAMURS (Green Lifestyles, Alternative Models and Up-scaling Regional Sustainability) project (2014-2016) was funded by the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme.

Bibliography

  • Polhill, J.G.; Craig, T.; Alonso-Betanzos, A.; Sanchez-Marono, N.; Fontenla-Romero, O.; Dumitru, A.; Garcia-Mira, R.; Bonnes, M.; Bonaiuto, M.; Carrus, G.; Marricchiolo, F.; Fornara, F.; Ilin, C.; Steg, L.; Ruepert, A.; Keizer, K., (2017) Interactions matter. Modelling everyday pro-environmental norm transmission and diffusion in workplace networks., In: Alonso-Betanzos, A., Sánchez-Maroño, N., Fontenla-Romero, O., Polhill, J.G., Craig, T., Bajo, J. & Corchado, J.M. (eds.) Agent-Based Modeling of Sustainable Behaviors. Springer, Cham, Switzerland, Chapter 2, pp27-52.
  • Grimm, V.; Polhill, J.G.; Touza, J., (2017) Documenting social simulation models: The ODD protocol as a standard. (Revised), In: Edmonds, B. & Meyer, R. (eds.). Simulating Social Complexity: A Handbook. 2nd edition. Springer, Berlin, pp349-365.
  • Polhill, J.G.; Salt, D., (2017) The importance of ontological structure: why validation by ‘fit-to-data’ is insufficient., In: Edmonds, B. & Meyer, R. (eds.) Simulating Social Complexity: A Handbook. 2nd edition. Springer, 141-172.
  • Sanchez-Maronon, N.; Alonso-Betanzos, A.; Fontenla-Romero, O.; Polhill, J.G.; Craig, T., (2017) Empirically-deprived behavioural rules in agent-based models using decision trees learned from questionnaire data., In: Alonso-Betanzos, A., Sanchez-Marono, N., Fontenla-Romera, O., Polhill, J.G., Craig, T., Bajo, J. & Corchado, M. (eds.). Agent Based Modelling of Sustainable Behaviors. Springer, Switzerland, Chapter 3, pp53-76.
  • Ge, J.; Polhill, J.G., (2017) Preliminary results from an agent-based model of the daily commute in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, UK., In: Jager, W., Verbrugge R., Flache A., de Roo G., Hoogduin L. & Hemelrijk C. (eds.) Advances in Social Simulation 2015. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing 528. Springer, Cham., pp129-142.
  • Polhill, J.G.; Gotts, N.M., (2017) How precise are the specifications of a psychological theory? Comparing implementations of Lindenberg and Steg's Goal-Framing Theory of everyday pro-environmental behaviour., In: Jager, W., Verbrugge R., Flache A., de Roo G., Hoogduin L. & Hemelrijk C. (eds.) Advances in Social Simulation 2015. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing 528. Springer, Cham., 341-354.
  • Polhill, J.G.; Milazzo, L.; Dawson, T.; Gimona, A.; Parker, D., (2017) Lessons learned replicating the analysis of outputs from a social simulation of biodiversity incentivisation., In: Jager, W., Verbrugge R., Flache A., de Roo G., Hoogduin L. & Hemelrijk C. (eds.) Advances in Social Simulation 2015. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing 528. Springer, Cham., 355-365.
  • Sanchez-Maronon, N.; Alonso-Betanzos, A.; Fontenla-Romero, O.; Polhill, J.G.; Craig, T., (2015) Designing decision trees for representing sustainable behaviours in agents., In: Bajo, J., Hernandez, J.Z., Mathieu, P., Campbell, A., FernandezCaballero, A., Moreno, M.N., Julian, V., AlonsoBetanzos, A., JimenezLopez, M.D. & Botti, V. (eds.). Trends in Practical Applications of Agents, Multi-Agent Systems and Sustainability: The PAAMS Collection, Advances in Intelligent Systems and Sustainability, Springer, Berlin, Volume 372, 169-176.
  • Grimm, V.; Polhill, J.G.; Touza, J., (2013) Documenting social simulation models: the ODD protocol as a standard., In: Edmonds, B. & Meyer, R. (eds.). Simulating Social Complexity: A Handbook. Springer, Berlin, Part II, pp117-133.
  • Gimona, A.; Polhill, J.G.; Davies, B.B., (2011) Sinks, sustainability and conservation incentives., In: Sources, Sinks and Sustainability (eds. Liu, J., Hull, V., Morzillo, A., and Wiens, J). Cambridge University Press, Chapter 8, pp155-178.
  • Gotts, N.M.; Polhill, J.G.; Law, A.N.R., (2010) Agent-based simulation in the study of social dilemmas., In: Gilbert, N. (ed.). Computational Social Science. SAGE Benchmarks in Social Research Methods Series, Volume 3. Sage Publications. ISBN-10: 1847871712, ISBN-13: 978-1847871718.
  • Polhill, J.G., (2009) Agent-based modelling of socio-economic processes related to the environment: Example of land-use change., In: Baveye, P., Mysiak, J., Laba, M. (eds.). Uncertainties in Environmental Modelling and Consequences for Policy-Making. NATO Science for Peace and Security Series C - Environmental Security, Springer, 61-76. ISBN 978-90-481-2634
  • Gotts, N.M.; Polhill, J.G., (2009) Narrative scenarios, mediating formalisms, and the agent-based simulation of land use change., In: Squazzoni, F. (ed.). Epistemological Aspects of Computer Simulation in the Social Sciences, Proceedings from 2nd International Workshop on Epistemological Perspectives on Simulation (EPOS), Brescia, Italy, 4-5 October 2006. Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 5466, 99-116.
  • Pignotti, E.; Edwards, P.; Preece, A.; Gotts, N.M.; Polhill, J.G., (2008) Enhancing workflow with semantic descriptions of scientific intent., In: Goos, G., Hartmanis, J. & van Leeuwen (eds.). The Semantic Web: Research and Applications, 5th European Semantic Web Conference, Tenerife, Spain, 1-5 June 2008. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 5021, Springer, Berlin, pp644-658.
  • Parker, D.C.; Brown, D.G.; Polhill, J.G.; Deadman, P.J.; Manson, S.M., (2008) Ilustrating a new "conceptual design pattern" for agent-based models of land use via five case studies - the MR POTATOHEAD framework., In: Lopez Paredes, A. & Hernandez, I. Agent-Based Modelling in Natural Resource Management. INSISOC, Valladolid, Spain, 23-51
  • Polhill, J.G.; Parker, D.C.; Gotts, N.M., (2007) Effects of land markets on competition between innovators and imitators in land use: results from FEARLUS-ELMM., In: Edmonds, B., Hernandez Iglesias, C. & Troitzsch, K.G. Social Simulation: Technologies, Advances and New Discoveries. Information Science Reference, London, Chapter 7, 81-97.

  • Salt, D.; Polhill, J.G.; Craig, T., (2016) Deliverable 2.2: Report on the ontology generation and data and knowledge integration., Green Lifestyles Alternative Models and Up-scaling Regional Sustainability / GLAMURS EU SSH.2013.2.1-1 Grant Agreement No. 613420.
  • Salt, D.; Polhill, J.G.; Craig, T., (2016) Deliverable 2., Report for Glamurs Ontology Project.
  • Polhill, J.G.; Craig, T.; Ge, J.; Lorenzo-Arribas, A., (2016) Out-of-range wattage in CurrentCost energy monitor readings., Short Report to CurrentCost.
  • Sutherland, L.A.; Gotts, N.M.; Polhill, J.G., (2006) CAVES: Complexity, agents, volatility, evidence and scale., Grampian Region Field Research Report. CAVES EU F6 Project.
  • Matthews, R.B.; Gilbert, N.; Roach, A.; Polhill, J.G.; Gotts, N.M.; Izquierdo, L.R., (2005) Development of a rural economy and land use simulation modelling strategy., Final Project Report of RELU Development Activity RES-224-25-0102, Macaulay Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen AB158QH, UK.

Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences
Social Researcher
kerry.waylen@hutton.ac.uk
+44 (0)1224 395313

The James Hutton Institute
Craigiebuckler
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK

 

Current research interests

Kerry's main ongoing research projects

Her research is motivated by the following research questions:

  • When might it make sense to adopt new concepts and instruments for environmental management? How can we best understand the challenges and consequences of implementing such new concepts, especially those (such as the 'Ecosystem Approach') that encourage a systemic approach to connect multiple issues?
  • How are different knowledges produced and used in collaboration and decision-making for environmental management? If and how do concepts (such as ecosystem services) or tools (such as scenario-planning) influence processes of knowledge co-production, including in science-policy interfaces?
  • How can we better enable stakeholder participation in environmental management, including Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) ?  What are the social and environmental consequences of doing so?

Kerry's expertise includes the following skills for carrying out, managing and communicating research:

  • Qualitative research methods e.g. semi-structured interviews, participant observation, Rapid Rural Appraisal, qualitative thematic analysis using both inductive and deductive approaches.
  • Quantitative research methods e.g. design, deployment and quantiative analysis of paper and online surveys for primary data collection, design and deplyment of systematic reviews and meta-analyses to identify and analyse secondary data
  • Extensive experience in leading design and facilitation of workshops for knowledge exchange and/or research data collection.
  • Skilled in engaging and communicating with varied audiences using varied methods, from short written briefings, longer reports and academic papers, through to videos, oral presentations and blog posts.
  • Expertise in research project management, line management, student supervision, and research ethics.

Kerry currently co-supervises 2 PhD students: Sam Poskitt, who is exploring the potential of scenario-planning to support learning for sustainable development, with Dr Andrew Ainslie at the University of Reading; and Kirsty Holstead, who is building understanding of community water governance, with Dr Shona Russell at the University of St Andrews.

Kerry is a trustee of the Orskov Foundation, a charitable foundation that supports students and communities to develop sustainable land use to support livelihoods in lower-income countries. She is also a research associate of CECHR, the Centre for Environmental Change and Human Resilience at Dundee.   Within the Institute, Kerry is leader of the 'Society Institutions and Governance' sub-group of SEGS, and she also founded the SEGS blog.

Past research

Exploring institutional constraints to adopting more systemic and/or participatory approaches to environmental management:

  • She jointly led research with Kirsty Blackstock to understand the potential and challanges of implementing the Ecosystem Approach, funded by the Scottish Government RESAS Strategic Research Programme 2011-2016.  Click here to visit the webpage of the Ecosystem Approach Review. This work also relates to the ideas of exploring the challenges multi-level governance as noted above, and of communication as noted below.

Analysing processes of knowledge co-production relating to environmental management:

  • Kerry co-led WP2 for the FP7 project ‘SPIRAL’ (Science Policy Interfaces for Research Action and Learning, for biodiversity) Visit the Project website to find out more about this project, and see the EPC paper and Biodiversity and Conservation paper in the list below for academic outputs she led on.
  • Kerry helped design the ESPPI:CREW project, which aims to monitor and evaluate science-policy and practice links for the Scottish Centre of Expertise in Waters, which has been operating since 2011.  She was also involved in CATCH II – which aimed to try to better connect policy, practitioners working in and for integrated catchment management.

Understanding and tackling the challenges faced by conservation initiatives in the 'Global South':

  • COMET-LA was a EU FP7 project on the Community-based Management of Environmental Challenges in Latin America, that ran 2012-2015.  Kerry was part of a small team exploring if and how scenario-planning can assist communities in Latin America to identify and develop sustainable community-based management for their natural resources in the face of climate change and increased competition for the use of natural resources. Visit our short animated youtube video on scenario-planning for more information about what this concept can offer.
  • Since December 2012 Kerry has supported work in Malawi to support villages and district-level planning for integrated natural resource management.  She has provided expertise to two projects lead by VSO.  The first project called "Water Futures: Towards Equitable Resource Strategies" aimed to improve the resilience of Malawian water management, whilst from late 2014 the second project 'MAJI' focuses on how to take account of climate change.  Kerry, together with Julia Martin-Ortega, provides expertise on community engagement on topics of ecosystem services and for co-constructing scenarios of future change.
  • Kerry’s past PhD work at Imperial College London (2006-2009) focused on understanding social factors linked to success in community-based conservation projects, involving fieldwork in Nepal and Kalmykia, Russia, as well as a systematic review of the factors affecting ‘success’ in developing-country community-based conservation projects. The thesis can be downloaded from the Imperial College Conservation Science website.

Prior to working at the James Hutton Institute Kerry's PhD research, carried out at Imperial College London, examined how the combination of individual views, culture and local institutions could significantly influence the outcomes of community-based conservation in developing countries.  In addition to policy-relevant work with NGOs, her prior academic experience included social research into attitudes towards nature resources in Trinidad, as part of an MSc from Imperial College. Her first degree is a MA in Natural Sciences, from Cambridge University.

Bibliography

  • Young, J.; Waylen, K.A.; van den Hove, S.; Watt, A., (2016) SPIRAL Improving science-policy interfaces for biodiversity., In: Martinuzzi, A. & Sedlacko, M. (eds.). Knowledge Brokerage for Sustainable Development. Innovative Tools for Increasing Research Impact and Evidence-Based Policy-Making. Greenleaf Publishing, Saltaire, UK, pp275-290.
  • Blackstock, K.L.; Waylen, K.A., (2016) Delivering ecosystem services at a national scale: institutions and governance., In: Brooker, R., Hester, A. & Pakeman, R. (eds.). Ecosystem Services. The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, pp18-19.
  • Waylen, K.A.; Blackstock, K.L., (2016) Concepts: 'Eco' terminology., In: Brooker, R., Hester, A. & Pakeman, R. (eds.). Ecosystem Services. The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, pp4-5.
  • Waylen, K.A.; Gearey, B.R.; Blackstock, K.L., (2016) Peatlands and cultural ecosystem services., In: Bonn, A., Allott, T., Evans, M., Joosten, H. & Stoneman, R. (eds.). Peatland Restoration for Ecosystem Services. Ecological Reviews Series, British Ecological Society, Cambridge University Press, Chapter 7, pp114-128.


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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.