From using models to developing models.
From 18-29 May, Pytrik Reidsma, Katrien Descheemaeker and Arnaud Temme have been teaching the PhD course ‘The Art of Modelling’, organized by the graduate school PE&RC. 17 PhD students participated in the course, originating from 13 different countries. While many of the participants had used models before, in the first days a new world opened up for many of them.
The course introduced students in the basic concepts of systems analysis and modelling, and simple systems were used to start developing models. Simple systems quickly became more complex, and many exercises were performed to internalize the steps needed to develop a model.
In the afternoon time was reserved for reflection: how to use the concepts and methods learned in own PhD research? Enthusiastic students discussed a wide variety of topics: how to improve a crop model, how to simulate electron transport during photosynthesis, how to test whether landslides cause the occurrence of new landslides, how to construct a dynamic model for farm structural change, and what is a good balance between humans and algae in a closed chamber on Mars, if CO2 and O2 levels need to stay within a certain range.
The last Friday all participants presented how they plan to incorporate what they learned in their own research. It was very stimulating to see how everybody was inspired by what they learned!