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Jason Bertram



Office/Lab: LSS 304


I am a mathematical theorist interested in a wide range of topics spanning physics and biology. My background is mainly in math/physics. After completing my BSc (Hons) in Math/Applied Math at the University of Cape Town, I moved to the Australian National University and did a Master’s degree (by research) in high temperature plasma physics as applied to magnetic confinement fusion (magnetohydrodynamic wave theory). I remained at the ANU to do my PhD under Prof. Roderick Dewar on non-equilibrium statistical mechanics and maximum entropy techniques in physics and biology. My thesis included work on statistical mechanical approaches to ecological modelling with particular applications to global tree cover distributions, species abundance distributions and stability-diversity relationships. On the physics side, I did work in fundamental turbulence theory, particularly variational approaches to predicting statistically steady turbulent flow states. I have also worked with Prof. Dewar on simplified approaches to climate modelling following Paltridge’s “maximum entropy production” method and attempts to derive similar entropy production principles in more general terms.

After completing my thesis in 2014, I joined Joanna Masel’s lab as a postdoc, where I am developing models that account for the interplay between ecological and evolutionary processes by incorporating absolute fitness into population genetics (which is predominantly formulated in terms of relative fitness). One application of these models is to study extinction and evolutionary rescue.