Carl Boettiger, an associate professor in environmental science, policy, and management at the University of California, Berkeley, will head to Blacksburg on Feb. 23 to lead a Spring Seminar, Skills and Social event hosted by the Ecological Forecasting Project at Virginia Tech.

In his research, Boettiger — whose interests lie in open science, data science, and ecoinformatics — blends theoretical investigation with the creation of software that explores concepts in ecological theory. He is interested in how we can forecast and manage ecological systems and make decisions under uncertainty, leading to applications in global change, conservation, and natural resource management.

A co-founder of both the rOpenSci and the Rocker projects, which provide open-source R software tools, Boettiger also is a science advisor to the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis.

Led by Cayelan Carey and Quinn Thomas, the Ecological Forecasting Project is an interdisciplinary team at Virginia Tech with the goal of predicting the future of nature, much like weather is predicted. The team creates reliable environmental forecasts and visualizations, develops software and tools that are broadly used to forecast ecological processes, and trains the next generation of ecological forecasters.

Carey, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, is the Roger Moore and Mojdeh Khatam-Moore Faculty Fellow, while Thomas is a Data Science Faculty Fellow and holds a joint appointment in the College of Natural Resources and Environment and the College of Science.

With a nod to the training that is part of the Ecological Forecasting Project’s mission, the spring event will start at 9 a.m. with a skills workshop on open reproducible workflows in R. In this interactive session, Boettiger will lead participants from working with basic R scripts to developing simple R packages and using container environments in scientific workflows.

The afternoon session will feature a talk titled “Ecological Decision-making at the Limits of Prediction.” Illustrating how the model that provides the greatest predictive accuracy is not necessarily the model that yields the best decision, Boettiger will explore how the science of decision theory provides a way forward in a world where models are never perfect and the future is always uncertain.

This seminar, which is scheduled from 3:30-4:30 p.m., is part of the Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior Seminar series presented by the Department of Biological Sciences.

A reception sponsored by the Academy of Data Science will follow the seminar.

The skills workshop and seminar will both take place in Fralin Auditorium, while the reception will be held in the Fralin lobby.

Attendees must register for the skills workshop by Feb. 15.

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