Dr James Millington

I study landscapes and how they change, often by using computer models. Primarily I focus on farming, forests and fire, but I’m interested in all kinds of landscapes and ways to understand them.

Research Interests

My research research examines interactions across space and time between the structure and function of physical and social components of landscapes. This research makes innovative use of quantitative modelling and simulation tools, such as agent-based models (ABMs), to mediate between theory and data for the investigation of geographic phenomena.

Substantively, much of my work has examined ecological processes and human-environment interactions to inform the sustainable management of multi-resource landscapes. This has included forest and agricultural landscapes of the US Mid-West and Mediterranean Europe, and more recently land use in Brazil and China.

I also have interests in some of the epistemological questions surrounding computational modelling tools and am interested in exploring how they can be employed to further understanding across Geography more broadly.

Thematic Research Areas

  • Fire-prone Landscapes – I seek to understand the interactions between fire, human activity and environmental change to envision possible alternative future landscapes. This requires studying vegetation succession-disturbance dynamics and reciprocal relationships between spatial patterns and ecological processes
  • Land Use and Sustainability – I study terrestrial landscapes and the role of human decisions about land use for sustainable use of resources. This includes examining drivers and consequences of both small-holders and institutional agents, and their interactions.
  • Telecoupling – Recently I have become involved in research to understand the dynamics of coupled human-natural systems connected over large distances (known as telecoupled systems). In particular, the cause and effect relationships between global trade flows and local use of natural resources.

Methodological Research Areas

Brief Bio

Prior to becoming Lecturer in 2013, and Senior Lecturer in 2017, I held a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, also in the Department of Geography at King’s. During my Fellowship I studied the narrative and qualitative possibilities of computer simulation. Prior to this, I spent several years as Visiting Postdoctoral Associate in the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability at Michigan State University, USA. During that time I developed and applied a simulation model to evaluate trade-offs and synergies in forest management. I received my PhD in Geography in 2007, for which I developed and coupled agent-based and landscape fire succession simulation models to examine the reciprocal interactions of land use decision-making and wildfire regimes.

I received a MSc in Environmental Monitoring, Modelling and Management (with Distinction) and a BSc (Hons) in Geography (First class), both from King’s College London. I grew up in Bristol, UK where my spare time was dominated by playing and watching team sports, and as a student I played for College 1st XI Football and 1st XI Cricket teams. These days I cycle as much as possible (to #seemorebybike) and enjoy watching rugby (preferably with friends and a pint).