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Dr. Ryan Calder

FACULTY AFFILIATE   |   Global Change Center

Population Health Sciences

Lab Website  •  Google Scholar  •  Dept Page

(540) 231-2430  •  rsdc@vt.edu

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Dr. Calder’s research focuses on developing tools for decision support in the setting of natural resource development and environmental management, particularly with respect to minimizing impacts on human health. Environmental systems feature complex interactions between physical, chemical, biological phenomena for which there is often a lack of prospective modeling capacity on the timescales or spatial scales of interest to policymakers. Scientific knowledge of mechanisms studied through the lens of individual disciplines often far outpaces an understanding of how mechanisms interact to govern outcomes of interest.

For example, one area of Dr. Calder’s research agenda focuses on forecasting and balancing risks and benefits from hydroelectric development. It is well understood that flooding hydroelectric reservoirs accelerates the microbial production of neurotoxic methylmercury, which poses a risk to consumers of local seafood. Dr. Calder’s research has aimed to improve forecasting ability for the magnitude of these risks and to characterize the competing imperatives of minimizing contaminant exposures while ensuring nutritional sufficiency among food-insecure populations.

Dr. Calder’s core disciplinary expertise falls in numerical simulation of environmental systems (especially aquatic systems), probabilistic risk assessment and human exposures assessment. He collaborates broadly with economists, ecologists and experts from other areas to develop rigorous interdisciplinary models that reflect the substantial uncertainties inherent in environmental systems while producing information that is usable by decision-makers.

Dr. Calder holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering and a doctoral degree in environmental health. Outside academia, he has worked as an engineer in environmental consulting and a government analyst. He is a registered professional engineer in the State of Nevada and in Quebec, Canada.