Elliot Gould

Elliot Gould
Elliot Gould, 2021 MCDS Doctoral Academy Fellow

Reproducibility and transparency of model-based research in applied ecology and conservation decision-making

Dr Libby Rumpff
Prof Fiona Fidler
Dr Hannah Fraser

School / Faculty:
School of BioSciences
Faculty of Science

PhD Details

Ecological models are used both directly and indirectly to underpin conservation decision-making, thus reproducible and transparently documented models that generate robust results are crucial for successful biodiversity conservation and management. Alarmingly, recent meta-research has revealed that ecology and conservation is at risk of a ‘reproducibility crisis’, suffering from the hallmark conditions demonstrated to foster unreliable and irreproducible results in other scientific disciplines. However, the majority of reproducibility research is focussed on hypothesis testing methods, yet in applied ecological research other scientific methods and modelling frameworks, such as decision-theory, optimisation and cost-effectiveness analysis prevail. The overarching goal of this PhD is to investigate the reproducibility and transparency of models within applied ecology, and to develop and test model-centric research methods that generate reliable results to inform sound biodiversity and conservation decision-making.

Q & A

Why did you decide to do a PhD?
I am intensely curious, occasionally to the point of hyper-focus, and enjoy the act of problem-solving inherent to research. I can’t imagine ever working outside of research, whether that be within industry, government or academia, so doing a PhD seemed essential to building a research career and posed a great opportunity for up-skilling in data-science and modelling.

What do you enjoy reading?
I prefer podcasts over reading, but when I do read I mostly turn to non-fiction books about science, natural history, psychology, gender and society. My favourite fictional genres are fantasy and sci-fi.

What do you enjoy doing when you're not working on your PhD?
I’m obsessed with various cycling disciplines, from long-distance Audax/Randonneur gravel cycling, to mountain biking and racing cyclocross. I also love boardgames and playing first-person shooters and story-driven.

Name one fun fact about you.
I am vegan, passionate about animal rights and environmental justice.