Research Colloquium: Monica Gavriela Cojocaru

The Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
at the University of California, Santa Barbara



Monica Gavriela Cojocaru
Canada-US Fulbright Visiting Research Chair
Department of Mathematics, UCSB

Wednesday, March 10, 2010
12:30 - 1:30 p.m.
Bren Hall 1414

"Objective and subjective decision factors:

modeling human behavior from individual to population scale"

Hosted by Bren Dean Steven Gaines

Introduced by Jeffrey Stopple, Chair, Department of Mathematics, UCSB



Modeling human behavior, human decision processes, and their impact on everyday life is today at the forefront of applied and social sciences. The need to understand, quantify, and forecast how individuals and/or populations behave with respect to their surroundings has never been greater, particularly in the face of growing environmental challenges. The process of decision making at the individual level has been studied extensively in operations research and management sciences, optimization, game theory, etc. The main traditional approach is concerned primarily with the study of appropriately defined static (equilibrium) states and their properties, assuming that individuals make rational decisions. For constantly evolving systems however, this is an important, yet not sufficient, approach to describe societal behavior. This is a particularly important question if one studies innovation (new products) and science (new information about a product – e.g. health benefits) driven problems, their complex relationship with policy making, and the ever-changing population composition. In such a setting, the factors influencing individual and/or population attitudes are evolving, so the static theory cannot apply. Part of my current research is centered around several dynamic modeling approaches to population behavior incorporating both objective and subjective decision factors. We present a time-dependent extension of the standard, static model of consumer choice for differentiated products. We use both an agent-based and a PDE computational approach, and we incorporate social networks effects. In this setting, an individual's choice depends not only on its characteristics (personality traits, perceived health benefits of a product, price of product, personal income), but also on the consumption choices of others in its social network. Of central interest is how consumers react to the introduction of a new product in the market.



Dr. Cojocaru completed her BSC and MSc in mathematics at the University of Bucharest (Romania) and her PhD in mathematics at Queen’s University in Kingston Canada. She held an NSERC postdoctoral fellowship at the Centre des Researches Mathematiques (CRM) in Montreal. She then received an NSERC University Faculty Award and her current position at the University of Guelph, Canada, in the Mathematics & Statistics Department. She held several visiting positions at CRM, Fields Insitute, Harvard, and Northwestern universities. She currently holds the Canada-US Fulbright Visiting Research Chair position in the Department of Mathematics at UCSB.


NOTE: Research colloquia are hosted by Bren faculty members and are generally high-level talks about research in a particular area of environmental science and management.


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