Scientists design experiments to answer a specific question, and usually they already have an informed prediction as to what the answer may be. They set up treatments and make measurements of specific variables that they think will contribute information for the understanding of the problem. In natural systems, however, there are innumerable variables that could also be informative for the system. For Francisco Guerrero, a PhD student in the Department of Forest Engineering, Resources, and Management, the leftover material—the unused information—is essential to the understanding of a natural system but may be overlooked by scientists after a specific outcome. Francisco wants to harness all the information in a natural system, identify patterns, and simulate a complete picture of a forest or a watershed. An application of Francisco’s research in the lab of Jeff Hatten utilizes Information Theory to create a mathematical tool that translates that information into a snapshot of a forest ecosystem as it is evolving, allowing scientists to predict where it is headed and past events that have lead to the current state.
Francisco’s academic journey itself has evolved from early dreams of becoming a TV producer to ecologist to engineer. Passionate in his pursuits, our guest this Sunday loves to chase a challenge. To hear about about Francisco’s research and his unique journey, tune in to 88.7 FM KBVR in Corvallis on Sunday, October 18th at 7PM PST, or stream the show live online at http://kbvr.com/listen!