The Consortium’s Dr. John Handley speaks at RIT

 In Events
Put on by

College of Science
Data Science Research Group


Friday, March 1
3:00pm – 4:00pm


1140 Institute Hall


Free and open to the public

Sponsored by

RIT’s Data Science Research Group

The Role of Data Science in Paleoecology

Join the Consortium’s Dr. John Handley as he presents at RIT on the role Data Science plays in Paleoecology. Dr. Handley will discuss innovative ways of using Bayesian estimation to reconstruct ancient worlds and understand evolution. Furthermore, he will touch on cultural barriers of working with inference versus descriptive statistics.


Paleoecology is the study of past ecosystems with the aim to reconstruct ancient worlds and to understand the patterns and processes of evolution. It is fundamentally an observational science, based primarily on the fossil record and geochemical signals. Data collection is often restricted to available exposure of fossil-bearing rocks. These data are often augmented with museum collections where the sampling protocol is unknown. In this talk, I will describe several studies where sampling issues were dealt with using statistical modeling approaches. I will show examples of how multi-level models and Bayesian estimation can capture some of uncertainties associated with heterogeneous samples. Surprisingly, these methods are novel to paleoecologists and I will discuss some of the cultural barriers I overcame when working with scientists more comfortable with descriptive statistics than inference.

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