Event date:
Aug 19 2022 2:00 pm

Unravelling the Cybernetic Fabric of Complex Socio-Ecological Systems

Dr. Talha Manzoor
Reading Room (Tesla Wing), Electrical Engineering Department, SBASSE
This talk will describe a mechatronics engineer's journey from machines and robots to nature and society. Like a well-oiled machine, the natural habitat and all its components function in synchrony, each part contributing towards the bearing of the whole. However, unlike our machines, we are far from a complete understanding of how the natural system works. I argue that as members of the engineering community, it is our collective responsibility not only to design new technologies to uplift humanity, but also to understand the long-term effects that our interventions have on the environment and society. In this talk I will describe the layout of my research agenda developed over the past few years to pursue two main objectives. First, to understand the effect of human interventions on interacting natural, social and engineering processes. Second, to guide the synthesis of technological interventions to obtain desirable outcomes. In doing so, I use tools from systems and control theory, treating human behavior as a fundamental component of socio-ecological systems. I will discuss the use of the systems perspective to understand complex processes linked to the environment and the incorporation of human behavior in such settings. Next, I will go over the design of real-world observation systems and application of causal inference techniques for monitoring coupled human natural systems. Finally, I will talk about the development of mathematical notions of sustainability for incorporation in systems theoretic frameworks. I will end the talk on my vision for a research program to guide policy on disruptive technologies and human interventions in complex systems for the Pakistan region.

Dr. Talha Manzoor is generally interested in the modelling, control and estimation of socio-ecological systems where environmental phenomena overlap with societal and technological processes. He is especially intrigued by behavioral processes that lead to unexpected outcomes in complex systems. In his research he employs tools from systems and control theory, treating humans as endogenous elements of the system, as opposed to the conventional incorporation of human behavior as disturbances, exogenous inputs, or uncertainties.

Dr. Talha currently serves as an Assistant Professor at the Center for Water Informatics and Technology (WIT) at LUMS. At the Center he is involved in modelling and decision making for socio-hydrological systems with a focus on water in agriculture. He is also leading field investigations to study the operational hydrology of small rain-fed catchments through the deployment of hydrometeorological sensor networks and associated technologies. At LUMS, Dr. Talha teaches courses related to systems analysis, control, and robotics. His course on socio-ecological systems and sustainability covers different theoretical frameworks to study coupled human-natural systems under modern notions of sustainability. He holds a BS in Mechatronics Engineering from NUST and an MS in Computer Engineering from LUMS. He completed his PhD in Electrical Engineering from LUMS in 2018.