Sarah Wise

From Santa Fe Institute Events Wiki


Hi! I'm Sarah and I'm a first-year PhD student in the Computational Social Science department at George Mason University outside of Washington DC. I finished my undergraduate work at the University of Chicago last year, majoring in computer science and Chinese history. While I was there I worked on modeling Bronze Age Mesopotamia at Argonne National Labs and did my senior project on the emergence of riots in urban environments.

What are your main interests? Feel free to include a "pie in the sky" big idea!

My main interest is practical simulation and tool-building. I believe that complexity science - and specifically modeling - can help us make better choices about civil policy. Many of the questions governments and organizations face in making choices about what initiatives to pursue or programs to fund have to do with how the systems they seek to affect will play out as a result of their interactions with it. Thus, giving policymakers better tools to understand the systems they are trying to administer or impact should theoretically result in more effective policies. (Whether that last assumption turns out to be valid is of course an open research question as well!)

What sort of expertise can you bring to the group?

I am by training a computer scientist, and I have been building simulations of social processes for four years now. I am a major proponent of agent-based modeling, although I can also appreciate the merits of system dynamics models, microsimulation, etc etc etc. I'm happiest coding in Java, C/C++, and Python (then again, who isn't happy when coding in Python?), and I'm experienced with designing, building, and manipulating databases.

What do you hope to get out of the CSSS?

I want to hear what everyone else is working on and learn more about other approaches to the study of complexity. Based on the other wiki pages, everyone seems to be working on some exciting stuff and I'd like to be a part of as much of that as I can!

Do you have any possible projects in mind for the CSSS?

Anything about human decision-making, economics, politics, transportation, medical care/health, energy policy, extreme climate, emergency preparedness, space exploration (speaking of pies-in-the-sky)…you name it, I'd probably like to study it.

About me?

I love science fiction in all its forms, video games, and wuxia movies. I am also a budding railfan, and am hopeful that someone else is tempted by the reasonable nearness of this?

Besides English, I speak acceptable Spanish and increasingly poor Mandarin. I love practicing however, so if anyone is willing to practice speaking with me I will be very excited!