Deborah Rogers

From Santa Fe Institute Events Wiki

Deb SFI pic.jpg

Hi. I'm a third-year PhD student in the Marcus Feldman Lab in Stanford's Dept. of Biological Sciences. Academically, I'm interested in the interface between cultural and biological evolution; for example, does natural selection affect cultural change? how does culture, in turn, alter the selective environment? The BIG question behind all this is: how did we humans get ourselves into the mess we're in, and how we can get back out? My current obsessions include socioeconomic hierarchy, globalization, the politics of NGOs, concepts of race & ethnicity, and how to foster needed cultural evolution. Oh, and learning to *salsa* and speak Spanish. (I'm definitely up for the dance self-organization Lee Altenberg suggested.) I look forward to meeting all of you!

Answers to Dave Feldman's questions:

1. My expertise in is the field of human biological and cultural evolution, cultural diversity, and a variety of issues related to human adaptation, past and future. I can also try to help people with programming questions, particularly MatLab and java, and with some statistical analysis questions.

2. I would like to establish some familiarity with a variety of techniques for modeling and analyzing complex interacting social, cultural, economic, biological, and ecological systems.

3. All my research is interdisciplinary and will benefit immediately from anything I can learn at CSSS.

4. I'm interested in trying to build trait "tags" (cultural or genetic traits) into a culture-demography-environment simulation I already have running, but I don't know if this is an appropriate collaborative project for the summer program. Another stand-alone project I want to work on involves modeling the generation of cultural diversity in response to environmental factors such as biodiversity and climate stochasticity. (I have several ideas about possible approaches.)

5. Questions for future researchers:

(a) How did the models of global climate change pan out? Did they give us an accurate-enough sense of what was coming?

(b) If you could go back in time to 2008, what would you have done then to better understand and respond to the urgent social/economic/environmental problems facing humanity?

(c) How has knowledge of the human genome helped? Are you able to predict individual disease risks and have effective genetic interventions? Or is the human ecology too complex for genetic information to give definitive answers?