Welcome to my website!


My research activities encompass a broad range of modeling approaches that capture the dynamic relationship between human decision making and natural systems, with an emphasis on land use change. The philosophical approach to modeling that I employ focuses on models as adaptable computational laboratories allowing for exploration, scenario building, and visualization of complex system characteristics such as the interrelationships between societies and their landscapes, the dependence of system trajectories on human decisions made in the past, and the acknowledgement of the decision making diversity. I am a spatial modeler devoted to designing exploratory tools that can be applied in interdisciplinary collaborative problem solving. My research to-date has focused on two key domains of interest: [a] representation of spatial choice behavior, and [b] sensitivity analysis of complex nonlinear models.


For the last two years I have been involved in investigating computational methods that corroborate the results of models of human-natural systems. While random events like earthquakes and tornadoes are unavoidable, we can still address the systemic uncertainty in modeling geographic processes by developing methodologies that extensively explore temporal and spatial dynamics of human-natural interactions. Within the modeling realm, a variety of methods have been proposed to analyze knowledge uncertainty, including statistical sensitivity analysis based on variance decomposition. This method allows for breaking down the variability of model output (like land development maps) and distributing it among the uncertain model inputs (like land characteristics, choice behavior mechanisms, and preferences for specific sites). I have recently developed a model evaluation approach that utilizes this framework. In a paper co-authored with Sun (2010), I report on a proof-of-concept experimentation that shows how sensitivity analysis can be used to thoroughly inspect behavioral and environmental uncertainties related to the linkages among individual choices, landscape changes, and the emerging land development patterns. I demonstrate how this methodology leads to input prioritization and reduction, resulting in simpler and more transparent models.

673 Auditorium Rd, Room 121

Department of Geography

Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI 48824-1117, US

Tel: 517-432-4749

E-mail: ligmannz@msu.edu

Aug 2010: Interview in Splash which is the newsletter of MSU Center for Water Sciences

Mar 2009: Meet ESPP new hires gathering

Arika Ligmann-Zielinska Ph.D.


Assistant Professor


Text Box: Resume (August, 2014)