My master's work was composed of two disparate parts that taught me about several different approaches to ecological modeling and problem solving.
The first part of my master's is a length-based model of predator susceptibility in juvenile salmon with Prof. Jim Anderson. I created a simple, tractable model relating survival to length which, when validated on validated on PIT-tag data for Columbia River spring Chinook salmon showed strong evidence for a critical size effect prior to ocean entry and was the first study to suggest that the increases in survival caused by fish barging programs are dependent on fish size.
The second part of my master's project is with Prof. Sandor Toth. The project is generating random landscapes with certain user-defined characteristics that can then be used to test the abilities and efficiency of optimization algorithms for land-use. The software is up on CRAN (install.packages("rlandscape")). A brief introduction geared at newcomers to R is online here. For more complete documentation see the package vignette and help files.
My biggest interest is in the developing world, in Sub-Saharan Africa specifically. I think the appropriate and efficient use of aid is crucial, and I would like to study ways to improve cost-efficiency of aid programs and evaluate their effectiveness. For the 2011-2012 school year I was be funded as a fellow of the Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology (CSDE). During the summer of 2012 I am developing an R package based on Jim Anderson's vitality model of mortality and we are working on applying the model to populations affected by HIV.