Dr Pen Holland

University of York.

Key themes running through Pen Holland’s research are: finding simple models to understand complex ecological problems; using noisy or sparse data to find quantitative solutions for real life problems; and developing novel ways to teach, disseminate research, and engage people in the biosciences.

Two broad areas of research are currently of interest to her:

Quantifying and predicting in ecology: spatial patterns, resources, dispersal and connectivity across landscapes, probability of detection issues, and effective use of scarce, uncertain ordinal data. Real world applications include models to assess and predict herbivore density-damage impacts on plants, and interactions between climate, plant productivity and animal populations in resource pulse-driven ecosystems.

Games with a purpose: multiplayer games to understand perceptions of, and educate about, sustainable and economic use of shared resources, and as a communication conduit between multiple stakeholders in wicked ecological problems, and games to motivate, support and improve learning in higher education (see catastrophic.york.ac.uk for an example).

She is particularly interested in supervising students with a game design or HCI background and an interest in the biological sciences, on the following topics:

  • Games to support understanding of complex ecological problems for managers and policy makers
  • Games to crowd-source solutions to problems in computational biology
  • Games to teach threshold concepts in biology