Hello, I am Darrell and I am a first year PhD student in the soil physics group at Wageningen University. My work has little to do with the content of this course – I investigate the fate of contaminants, such as agricultural chemicals from farming and pharmaceuticals from sewage treatment plant discharge, in the soil and groundwater. They are transported, diffused, reacted, frozen, evaporated, consumed by bacteria, and so on, through many non-linear relationships. Perhaps the interaction between bacterial biomass populations and organic contaminants, which they (sometimes selectively or competitively) consume, can be an example of a consumer-resource interaction problem, though in this case the desirable outcome is one where all of the ‘resource’ is depleted.
Furthermore, consumer-resource interactions are discrete non-linear dynamical systems. These are often simulated with agent-based models, which are also used in many fields of physical sciences, including mine, and algorithms for numerical optimization. I hope that an empirical understanding of how such systems work, from a deeper understanding of ecological and evolutionary processes, will provide me with greater inspiration and creativity in my research. Ultimately, it does not matter too much to me how closely my research is related to this course, as I am interested in the topic on an personal level.