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The focus of KEL research

The focus of KEL research and development centers on integration, interpretation, and use of both qualitative and quantitative information for the purpose of landscape planning, problem-solving and decision making. General features of KEL projects include the following:

(i) studies of the environment are considered at the landscape scale,
(ii) projects are framed in an ecological context,
(iii) an interdisciplinary format is used, and
(iv) the research protocol involves consideration of scientific, technical, and social agendas.

The research and development agenda for KEL is a direct consequence of the fact that contemporary issues in landscape ecology and management all have a substantial existing knowledge base associated with them. Planning, problem-solving, and decision making begin with effective and efficient use of this knowledge. KEL specializes in development of computer applications to organize, integrate, and interpret existing knowledge. The goal is to use the full measure of information available. Typically, domain-specific information from a variety of academic disciplines (entomology, ecology, geography, forestry, psychology, and sociology) forms the knowledge base for an environmental problem. Tools and techniques f from engineering and computer science are needed to integrate the various elements of the knowledge base, so that it can be used in an efficient and effective manner. KEL has developed several kinds of computer-based systems to support landscape planning, problem-solving and decision making. Emphasis in KEL has been placed on object-oriented simulation, expert systems, knowledge-based systems, intelligent geographic information systems, and knowledge system environments. These techniques permit use of spatially referenced data, tabular information, and heuristic knowledge of technical experts. They are useful for applied problems in environmental management and for basic studies in environmental science.

The emphasis of KEL research

The emphasis of KEL research and development in computer-aided instruction is directed to address two issues. The first deals with tools and technologies for efficient packaging and effective presentation of course materials. In addition to providing better quality instruction, one of the objectives of the research is to define ways and means for eliminating some of the inefficiency and tedium associated with conventional approaches to class-room instruction. Another objective is to provide a means for broadcasting course materials. The second issue being addressed by KEL centers on development of INTERNET applications and electronic information resources for environmental sciences. Communication through the INTERNET is a primary means of exchange among research scientists. Future interaction among researchers, educators, and students will continue to take place through electronic media facilitated by the INTERNET.

KEL research is conducted by teams

KEL research is conducted by teams of individuals who have the domain expertise and technical skills necessary to address specific problems. Staff and students from a variety of academic Departments within and beyond the Texas A&M University System participate. This network approach provides an efficient and economical means for conducting both basic and applied research. It also facilitates the production of commercial quality software products. All projects are supported from extra-mural funding sources.