My interests broadly have to do with the interactions between humans and ecosystems: How society and the natural world affect each other, and how these interactions will evolve over the coming decades and centuries given possible scenarios of population growth, policy options, and technological and management changes.
As part of the land ecosystem modeling group, I'm helped to develop computer models that simulate how ecosystems, human societies, and the climate affect and feed back onto one another. Specifically, I worked with colleagues on the Land System Modular Model (LandSyMM), which couples the LPJ-GUESS dynamic global vegetation model, the PLUM land-use model, and the IMOGEN climate model emulator. We use LandSyMM to ask questions about how land use patterns, biome distributions, and biogeochemical cycles will change together in the future.
I was also a co-coordinator for the agriculture modeling sector in the Inter-Sectoral Impacts Model Intercomparison Project (ISIMIP). ISIMIP coordinates experiments using models to explore the range of impacts of climate change might have on various natural and social parts of the Earth system, from crop and fishery production to human health and coastal infrastructure. The related ISIpedia project (see https://www.isipedia.org/) translate s the outputs of ISIMIP into country-level summaries designed for use by policymakers and other non-scientific stakeholders; I contributed to the agricultural section.
I completed my PhD in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University in April 2016, under the guidance of my adviser, Steve Pacala. There, I developed a global fire model that, for the first time, included a simulation of the ways people manage cropland and pasture using fire. Iworked within the LM3 land and vegetation model run by the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (NOAA-GFDL).
Sam has now taken up a position in the US at Rutgers University.