The major focus of my current research is development of tools for a comprehensive inspection of uncertainties related to interrelationships between individual choices and land development patterns. In particular I have recently proposed a new approach to evaluating agent behavioral uncertainty using variance-based global sensitivity analysis. This method produces time series of first and total order sensitivity indices that allocate the variance of development patterning to selected behavioral features like risk perceptions, decision reference frames, land preferences, and previous choice experiences.

673 Auditorium Rd, Room 121

Department of Geography

Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI 48824-1117, US

Tel: 517-432-4749


Arika Ligmann-Zielinska Ph.D.


Assistant Professor

My research also concentrates on computational representations of human decision making in modeling land use change. Many geographical models employ individual decision making mechanisms based on rational actor paradigm, which incorporates spatially homogeneous preference-based utility functions, assuming away all behavioral heterogeneity. In contrast, I make use of alternative decision making representations based on concepts borrowed from choice psychology. The decision mechanisms, which I developed to model residential land use change, explicitly incorporate risk perceptions in the form of attitude functions.

I am involved in the development of educational materials for an open-source Agent Analyst toolkit. This initiative culminated in three chapters in a book entitled Agent Analyst: Agent-Based Modeling in ArcGIS (ESRI Press).

As part of a project funded by the MSU Center for Water Sciences, I am currently working on a comprehensive representation of agricultural decision making in land use modeling, which contrasts farmersí perceptions of nonmonetary benefits related to land conservation with the financial returns from farmland exploitation or conversion to urban use. See also MSU Landscape Limnology Research Group

Another aspect of spatial decision making that interests me relates to the geographical representation of decision criteria and their corresponding preferences. Based on concepts from formal geographical decision theory, I have developed a methodology that explicitly accounts for spatial biases. See also my contribution towards SDS Portal