Dr. Rafael Munoz-Carpena to Present Seminar on Dynamic Factor Analysis on September 26, 2013

Gainesville, FL:  Dr. Rafael Munoz-Carpena, UF Research Foundation Professor, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, will present his lecture entitled Dynamic Factor Analysis of Environmental Systems: Introduction, Challenges and Advances in Complex Systems on Thursday, September 26, 2013, from 4-5PM in Florida Gym 265.


Today’s environmental problems are complex in nature and require a multidisciplinary approach where scientists and engineers collaborate in the solutions. In multidisciplinary research, success must be driven by the importance of the problem solved, rather than the elegance of the methods alone. Dynamic Factor Analysis (DFA) is an efficient dimension reduction technique that allows for the variance decomposition of multiple time series (response variables, RVs) into unexplained (common trends, CTs) and explained (explanatory variables, EVs) effects. Although non-stationarity may be overcome by statistical de-trending, the identification of non-stationary CTs may hold fundamental information about the system’s temporal dynamics. This makes DFA particularly suited for environmental analysis. In the past eight years we have applied Dynamic Factor Analysis (DFA) to a diverse set of natural and engineered systems to identify groups of environmental time series that exhibit similar behaviors and ask: “why do response variables (RVs) share similar traits?” Using DFA, we are often able to identify explanatory variables (EVs) that help explain this shared variance, allowing us to build Dynamic Factor Models (DFMs) of the system. DFMs are useful for: 1) generating hypotheses about system behavior and thresholds; 2) informing future monitoring and modeling efforts; and 3) exploration of past and future system behavior. We have found DFA to be a powerful and structured exploratory tool, facilitating multidisciplinary collaboration between engineers and physical/social scientists investigating complex systems.


Dr. Muñoz-Carpena’s integrated research focuses on complex hydrological systems analysis and their coupling with biological and human components, with particular emphasis on the mitigation of the impingement of agriculture and other human land uses on natural systems. This research has attracted funding for $5+ million and allowed him to train an outstanding group of graduate students over the years (chair 17 Ph.D. and 6 M.Sc. students, committee member in over a dozen other Ph.D. and M.Sc. committees). This has resulted in over 85 peer-reviewed journal publications, 2 books (1 authored and 1 edited), 6 book chapters, and over 175 other publications. His refereed journal papers are consistently published in top-tier (JCR impact index) international journals that are widely.

An important focus of this research is the analysis of complex natural and human systems. To this end his team has created and participate in interdisciplinary groups across campus that have allowed them to compete regularly for federally funded integrated research programs (NSF, NASA, DoDefense-SERDP, USDA, USGS). The analysis of coupled hydrological, ecological and socioeconomic systems requires the integration of many interacting components (biological, physical and human) through the development of computational models. The development of these models requires the careful evaluation of effects (relative importance) of the different system components and their interactions during the model building and application process. The systematic application of Global Sensitivity and Uncertainty Analysis tools in many complex problems, and in particular those where water acts as the connecting element, has been central to his research since 2006. These tools are now established in our modeling community and have resulted in numerous research publications across a wide range of environmental problems (impacts of sea level rise in endangered FL shorebirds, integrated watershed modeling, surface pollution in the Everglades, weather forecasting, cover crops in Europe, update the pesticide regulatory frameworks in Europe and USA to incorporate mitigation of surface runoff pollution with vegetative filter strips, effects of road construction in the Amazonia, sustainability of the Okavango Delta under climatic and land cover shifts, sustainability of elephants and vegetation in the Kruger national Park, quantification of resilience in ecological systems, etc.). His team also applies, teaches and develops state-of-the-art complex systems modeling tools (dynamic factor analysis, neutral network analysis, testing of significance in model validation, agent-based modeling, Maximum Entropy, etc.) that have become a central piece in his wide range of integrated research collaborations.



Dr. Muñoz-Carpena has received numerous awards for his national and international work, like the 2013 UF Water Institute Faculty Fellow, 2013 National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) Mentoring Award, 2011 University of Florida Research Foundation Professor, 2009 Junior Faculty Award of Merit, Gamma Sigma Delta, 2008 UF/IFAS International Achievement Award, 2008 UF International Educator Award, and 2007 FL ASABE Award of Merit.