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Perry de Valpine

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A recent addition to CNRís faculty, assistant professor Perry de Valpine brings expertise to the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. De Valpine, formerly a statistician at Predicant Biosciences, combines mathematics with ecology.

Youíre both a computer guy and an ecologist. How do those two things fit together?

My early background was as a computer guy. When I got interested in ecology, I found that it was hard to make strong predictions based on field data. A lot of mathematical work was going on, but it was very theoretical and far removed from field operations. Today, thereís a shift thatís happening in science toward using the advanced statistical calculations to make sense out of messy, noisy data. The field of ecology is benefiting from this trend.

Can you share an example?

Letís say you want to know how certain agricultural practices affect insect populations in order to come up with an effective pest management plan. So you go out in the field and estimate the abundance of different species over time and under various conditions. But that data presents big challenges because itís so complex and variable. So what I try to do is develop computational techniques that have a much higher chance of actually getting meaningful results from field experiments.

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