Research Team

Michael Barton (Project Director)

Arizona State University, School of Human Evolution & Social Change, Center for Social Dynamics & Complexity

My interests center around long-term human ecology and landscape dynamics. I've carried out fieldwork in Spain, Bosnia, and various locales in North America and research expertise in hunter/gatherer and early farming societies, geoarchaeology, lithic technology, and evolutionary theory, with an emphasis on human/environmental interaction, landscape dynamics, and techno-economic change. Quantitative methods are an important focus of my research, especially emphasizing computational modeling, spatial technologies, statistical analysis, and visualization.

Miguel F. Acevedo (Co-Investigator)

University of North Texas, Regents Professor, Electrical Engineering Department. Also  Department of Geography, and Graduate Program in Environmental Sciences.

My major research interests are to integrate modeling and monitoring applications to sustainability, particularly environment-energy relationships, and land-use change in rapidly urbanizing areas. Specific areas include complex systems; ecological and environmental modeling; landscape and forest ecology; coupled human-natural systems; watershed and reservoir management; wireless sensors, biosensors and environmental observatories; global climate change and variability.

Joan Bernbeu (Co-Investigator)

Universitat de València, Departament  de Prehistòria i Arqueologia

My research centers on the Neolithic transition in the western Mediterranean, and the evolution of social complexity from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age in Iberia. 

Arjun Heimsath (Co-Investigator)

Arizona State University, School of Earth & Space Exploration

My current and pending research projects and interests build upon the fundamental need for a field-based, mechanistic, and quantitative understanding of landscape processes and evolution. This understanding builds primarily on determining erosion rates and processes from a wide-variety of landscapes under different tectonic, climatic, and lithologic conditions. The research directions sketched below thus try to fulfill this need and do so in a way that can be applied toward fundamental problems facing the scientific as well as the non-scientific communities. Specifically, I believe that answering important scientific questions should also help solve important and related environmental, social, and resource management related problems.

Julien Riel-Salvatore (Co-Investigator)

Université de Montréal, Department of Anthropology

My research focuses on the ecology and prehistory of hunter-gatherers, and on how humans have interacted with their environment in the past. Some of my recent work has sought to apply niche construction theory as a useful conceptual framework for looking at the human past. NCT encourages researchers to look at the dynamic evolutionary interplay between biology, culture and ecology to understand how given evolutionary trajectories came to be. Since archaeology by its very nature looks at the long-term, the discipline provides a natural body of evidence of how humans have engaged with and modified their environments to suit their needs, often with unexpected consequences in the long run.

Hessam Sarjoughian (Co-Investigator)

Arizona State University, School of Computing, Informatics, & Decision Systems Engineering

Research topics of my work that relate to this project are modeling theories and methodologies with emphasis on heterogeneous model composability, discrete-event agent modeling, and simulation as cloud services.

Helena Mitasova (Senior Personnel)

North Carolina State University, Center for Geospatial Analytics
My research interests focus on analysis of landscape evolution from lidar data, GIS-based erosion modeling, multidimensional visualization  and applications of GIS for sustainable land use management. Our research group at the NCSU Center for Geospatial Analytics contributes to the development of open source GRASS GIS and explores the design and development of tangible user interfaces for studies of interaction between landscape geometry and processes.

Michael North (Senior Personnel)

University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory

My research involves developing and applying advanced modeling and simulation applications for the U.S. federal government, U.S. state governments, international agencies, private industry, and academia. I am also the lead developer for the widely used free and open source Repast agent-based modeling suite ( 

Isaac Ullah (Senior Personnel)

San Diego State University, Department of Anthropology

I am broadly interested in the long-term social and environmental impacts of human land-use. My thematic research interests span the Old World and all aspects of early food-producing societies, with much of my detailed research focusing on Neolithic domestication economies in the circum-Mediterranean region. My main areas of interest are Complex Adaptive Systems and Complexity Theory, Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Advanced GIS and GIS applications in Archaeology, Computational Modeling, Landscape Archaeology and Archaeological Survey, Geoarchaeology/Geomorphology, Household Archaeology, Spatial Analysis, and Microrefuse Analysis.

Enrique Vivoni (Senior Personnel)

Arizona State University, School of Earth & Space Exploration

I study hydrological processes in natural and urban environments and their interactions with ecological, atmospheric and geomorphic phenomenon.

Sean Bergin (Research Partner)

Arizona State University, Global Biosocial Complexity Initiative

My research interests center on early agricultural adaptation, land-use and expansion in the Mediterranean. I approach my interest in past socio-ecological systems with computational and quantitaive methods including agent-based modeling, GIS modeling and spatial analysis.

Nicolas Gauthier (Research Associate)

Arizona State University, School of Human Evolution & Social Change

I am interested in human ecology, geoarchaeology, and the long-term environmental history of the eastern Mediterranean. My research focuses on the interactions between climate, hydrology, and food production on multiple scales.

Nari Miller (Research Associate)

Arizona State University, School of Earth & Space Exploration

My research interests currently focus on the surface expression of human activities. I try to better understand the constraints and processes of hillslope erosion and soil production, especially in areas with a long-term agricultural presence. A more nuanced understanding of the controls on landscape morphology will help us predict future soil cover and learn about human activities in the past.

Grant Snitker (Research Partner)

University of Georgia, 
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

My research interests include anthropogenic fire, geoarchaeology, GIS modeling, and environmental change. My current work incorporates multi-dimensional research on anthropogenic burning with more traditional archaeological measures of agricultural land-use to investigate the origins and evolution of Neolithic (7,700–4,500 cal. BP) agricultural landscapes in the eastern Spain.

Bülent Arikan (Research Partner)

Istanbul Technical University, 
Department Ecology and Evolution, Eurasia Institute of Earth Sciences

My research encompasses the archaeology of the Bronze and Iron Ages in Anatolia and the Levant: settlement systems, abandonment, environmental change, human impacts on environment, modelling of past land use and paleoclimate, social complexity, and collapse