David Byler, 2014, Operations Research and Financial Engineering

My project was titled “Predicting Fishery Collapses from Environmental Variability.” The challenge posed by this internship was to use data on environmental variability to predict when fish populations will experience large, sudden declines, how large those declines will be and other aspects of fishery collapse. After I spent some time learning about the existing work on fishery collapses, Malin (my postdoc-mentor) and I worked on finding meaningful ways to measure environmental variability and variability in fish population. From there, we used various mathematical and statistical tools to analyze the data and come up with conclusions. We found some significant connections between environmental variability and fishery collapse, and we’re now working together through my independent work to investigate those connections, and to integrate our findings into broader models for predicting various aspects of fishery collapses. This internship taught me how to perform real research that I had yet to experience in my classes–how to frame a problem in a meaningful way against existing literature and how to deal with quantitative and conceptual problems. Fishery collapse is an interesting and important problem; I look forward to continuing my work with Malin, and to writing a junior paper that builds off my summer internship research.