Stefani Crabtree is a computational archaeologist, field archaeologist, complexity scientist and ethnographer. In addition to being a Complexity Postdoctoral Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute she is currently a fellow of the Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity in Paris, France, holds a position at Utah State University in the Department for Environment and Society, and is a research fellow at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. Prior to joining SFI, she was a post-doctoral scholar in the Human Environmental Dynamics laboratory at the Pennsylvania State University.
In 2016 she was awarded two PhDs, one in anthropology at Washington State University under the direction of Tim Kohler, the other at the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme et Environnement at the Université de Franche-Comté under the co-direction of Laure Nuninger and François Favory. Stefani’s interests lie in agent-based modeling, food web modeling, and social network analysis. Her dissertation focused on both the Ancestral Pueblo U.S. Southwest and the Bronze Age to Iron Age transition in southern France. She additionally co-directs a project in Northern Mongolia with Dr. Julia Clark.
S.J. & Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources (QCNR)
Office Location: NR 355B
5200 Old Main Hill
Logan UT 84322-5200
You can also find and download a PDF version of the following interview from the same repository under the following DOI:
Q: At which institution are you currently affiliated and what is your field of expertise?
Utah State University & The Santa Fe Institute. Areas of expertise: archaeology, ecology, complex systems, computational modeling.
Q: What sparked your interest in researching resilience and vulnerability?
I’m most interested in trying to use the archaeological record as a source for examining the ways that humans embed themselves within ecosystems and ultimately change them. Archaeology provides the time depth to look at these questions. In this way the past can tell us where we have come from, and provide a useful way to look toward the future.
Q: What are the sources and approaches with which you investigate vulnerability and resilience?
I primarily use ecosystem modeling approaches (niche models, e.g.), agent-based models, or other network approaches to look at how networks can be resilient to perturbations, or when and where they are vulnerable to an outside attack that can cause the system to remodel.
Q: Do you consider vulnerability and resilience essential characteristics of social configurations?
Most social systems experience some kind of rigidity, which can lead to vulnerability. When a system cannot change smoothly, that can create many issues down the line.
Q: Is the history of humankind a history of resilience and vulnerability?
The history of any species is resilience and vulnerability. Evolution of course is the product of the vulnerable perishing while the resilient flourish.
Q: Have you personally experienced situations in which you felt particularly vulnerable or resilient and did these experiences influence your research?
I think this current pandemic shows that flexibility and adaptability, while constantly updating information, can lead to a more resilient individual and group.
Q: What are the future challenges in resilience and vulnerability research?
I am not sure. My own research will attempt to further understand the place of humans in ecosystems.
Q: What do you think would make us more resilient to cope with current challenges?
Learning from outside information and adapting our behaviors to suit.
Q: Are there lessons for the future that we could learn from studying the past?
Always. Everything we experience now has been experienced in the past, just perhaps in a slightly different form.