Steven Gray

Steven Gray

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Associate Professor, Graduate Program Director
Department of Community Sustainability


Steven Gray is an associate professor in the Department of Community Sustainability. His research focuses on socio-environmental modeling and understanding how individuals and groups make decisions about complex social-ecological systems. He is currently the lead editor on the book, Environmental Modeling with Stakeholders: Methods, Theories and Applications (Springer 2017).  His research has been funded domestically by the National Science Foundation, the Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) and by federal resource management agencies including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the United States Geological Survey.  Internationally his research has been supported by the Leibniz-Institute, the Australian Academy of Sciences and the Belmont Forum.

Currently his lab is developing a participatory modeling software called Mental Modeler, which he, his students, and colleagues are applying in a variety of environmental planning and research contexts, including marine spatial planning in Europe, co-created citizen science projects in the US and in Australia,  coastal hazard planning in the Pacific Islands, recreational angler decision-making in Germany, wildfire planning in the Pacific Northwest, conservation agricultural planning in Nepal and India, and understanding bushmeat trade dynamics for conservation planning in Tanzania.

Research Group Webpage: Human-Environment Interactions Lab at MSU

Mental Modeler Software:

Google Scholar Link 

Current Funded Projects (PI or co-PI)

2016-2018 National Academy of Sciences Collaborative modeling with Fuzzy Cognitive Maps: A novel approach to achieving safety culture

2016-2018 NOAA Engaging commercial, recreational, and subsistence fishers to improve management of Striped Bass fisheries in New England 

2015-2017 Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) Public participation and participatory modeling for action-oriented outcomes

2015-2017 NOAA Predicting the social impacts of climate change on fisheries in communities on the Atlantic coast

2014-2016 Department of the Interior Policy Scenarios for fire-adapted communities: understanding stakeholder risk-perceptions

2014-2016  NOAA Forecasting climate change impacts on coastal ecosystem services in Hawaii through integration of ecological and social models

2014-2016 NSF (Belmont Forum) Agriculture, food security & climate change: Sustainable management of ag resources for tribal societies in India

2012-2016 NSF Cyberlearning Sustaining ecological community through citizen science and online collaboration

Recent Selected Publications

(grad students: underlined; undergrad students: asterisk*)

Gray, S., A., Voinov, M. Paolisso, R.C Jordan, Todd BenDor, P. Glynn, B. Hedelin, K. Hubacek J. Introne, 1N. Kolagani, B. Laursen, C. Prell, L. Schmitt-Olabisi, A. Singer, E. Sterling, M. Zellner. Purpose, Processes, Partnerships, and Products: 4Ps to advance participatory socio-environmental modeling. Ecological Applications. (in press).

Gray, S., A. Singer, L. Schmitt-Olabisi, J. Introne, and J. Handerson*, Identifying the causes, consequences, and solutions to the Flint Water Crisis through collaborative modeling. Environmental Justice (in press).

Sterling E, C. Filardi, J. Newell, S. Albert, D. Alvira, N. Bergamini, E. Betley, M. Blair, D. Boseto, K. Burrows, N. Bynum, S. Caillon, J.E. Caselle, J. Claudet, G. Cullman, R. Dacks, P. B. Eyzaguirre, N. Gazit, S. Gray, J. Herrera, P. Kenilorea, K. Kinney, N. Kurashima, S. Macey, S. Mauli, J. McCarter, H. McMillen, P. Pascua, P. Pikacha, A. Porzecanski, P. de Robert, M. Salpeteur, A. Sigouin, M. Sirikolo, M. H. Stege, K. Stege, T. Ticktin, A. Toomey, R. Vave, A. Wali, P. West, K. B. Winter, and S. Jupiter. 2017. Biocultural approaches to sustainability indicators: bridging local and global scales to foster human adaptive capacity and ecological resilience. Nature: Ecology and Evolution (in press)

Frensley, T., A. Crall, M. Stern, R.C. Jordan, S.A. Gray, M. Prysby, G. Newman, C. Hmelo- Silver. Bridging the benefits of online and community supported citizen science: A case study on motivation and retention with volunteers. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice (in press).

Gray, S., R. C. Jordan, A. Crall, G. Newman, C. Hmelo-Silver , J. Huang, W. Novak, D. Mellor, T. Frensley, M. Prysby, A. Singer. (2017) Combining participatory modelling and citizen science to support volunteer conservation action Biological Conservation. 208, 76-86.

Singer, A., S. Gray, 1A. Sadler, L. Schmitt Olabisi, K. Metta, 1R. Wallace, M. Claudia Lopez, J. Introne, M. Gorman*, and J. Henderson* (2017) Translating community narratives into semi-quantitative models to understand the dynamics of socio-environmental crises Environmental Modeling and Software. 97, 46-55.

Santo, A., Guillozet, K., Sorice, M.G., Baird, T, Gray, S., and J. Donlan. (2017) Examining private landowners' knowledge systems of an invasive species. Human Ecology. 1-14.

Giabbanelli, P., S.A. Gray, and P. Aminpour. 2017. Combining fuzzy cognitive maps with agent- based modeling: frameworks and pitfalls of a powerful hybrid modeling approach to understand human-environment interactions Environmental Modeling and Software. 95:320-325.

Stier, A., Samhouri, J., Gray, S., Martone, R., Mach., M. Halpern, B., Kappel, C., Scarborough, C., and P. Levin. (2017) Integrating expert opinion into food web conservation and management. Conservation Letters 10(1), 67–76

Newman, G, B. McGreavy, M. Clyde, M. Chandler, M. Haklay, H. Ballard, S. Gray, D. Mellor, and J. Gallo. (2017) Leveraging the power of place in citizen science for effective conservation decision making. Biological Conservation 208, 55-64

Htun, H., S.A. Gray, C. Lepczyk, A. Titmus, and  K. Adams. (2016)  Combining watershed models and knowledge-based models to predict local-scale impacts of climate change on engendered wildlife. Environmental Modeling and Software. 84:440-457.

Li., O. S.A. Gray and S. Sutton. (2016) Mapping recreational fishers' informal learning of fisheries science using a fuzzy cognitive mapping approach to mental modeling. Fisheries Management and Ecology 23(4), 315–329.

Jordan, R.C., A.M. Crall, S.A. Gray, La Deau, S., Sorenson, A., Hmelo-Silver, S. Newman, G., and D.T. Mellor. (2016) Studying citizen science, adaptive management, and learning feedback as a mechanism for improving conservation Conservation Biology. 30(3), 487-495

Punawai, N., S.A. Gray, C. Severance, C. Lepczyk, 2016. Mapping ocean currents through Human observations: Insights from Hilo Bay, Hawai'i. Human Ecology. 1-10.

Douglas, E., Wheeler, S., Smith, D., Overton, I., Gray, S., Crossman, N., and Doody, T. 2016. Using mental-modelling to explore how irrigators in the Murray-Darling Basin make water-use decisions. Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies. 6, 1-12.

Gray, S. A., S. Gray, J. L. De Kok, A. E. R. Helfgott, B. O'Dwyer, R. Jordan, and A. Nyaki Using fuzzy cognitive mapping as a participatory approach to analyze change, preferred states, and perceived resilience of social-ecological systems. Ecology and Society 20(2): 11.

Barnes-Mauthe, M. Gray, S., Arita, S., Lynham, J., P. Leung. 2015 What determines social network capital in a social-ecological system? Environmental Management. 55:392-410.

Henly-Shepard, S., Gray, S., and Cox, L. 2015. Facilitating community adaptation through participatory modeling and social learning. Environmental Science and Policy. 45:109-122.

Jordan, R., A Crall, S Gray, T Phillips, D Mellor. 2015. Citizen science as a distinct field of inquiry. BioScience 65 (2), 208-211.

Gray, S., Gray S., and Zanre, E.  2014. Fuzzy Cognitive Maps as representations of mental models and group beliefs: theoretical and technical issues. In Fuzzy Cognitive maps for Applied  Sciences and Engineering –From fundamentals to extensions and learning algorithms Ed: Elpiniki I. Papageorgiou. Springer Publishing.  pp 29-48.

Halbrendt, J., Gray, S., Radovich, T., Crow, S., Kimura, A. 2014. Differences in farmer and expert beliefs about the perceived impacts of conservation agriculture. Global Environmental Change, 28: 50-62.

Nayaki, A., Gray, S., Lepczyk, J. Skibins, D. Rentsch. 2014. Understanding the hidden drivers and local-scale dynamics of the bushmeat trade through participatory modeling. Conservation Biology 28(5) 1403-1414. 

Pleasant, M, Gray, S., Lepcyzk, C. Fernandez*, A., Hunter*, N., and D. Ford* 2014. Managing cultural ecosystem services: Local management yields large-scale benefits. Ecosystem Services. 8: 141-147.

Nicosiaϯ K, S. et al. and S.A. Gray. 2014. Determining the willingness to pay for ecosystem service restoration in a degraded coastal watershed: A ninth grade investigation. Ecological  Economics.104: 145–151.

Gray, S., Gagnon, A.,Gray, S., Mahony, C., Muir, D., Falaleeva, M. 2014. Are local coastal managers detecting the problem? Assessing stakeholder perception of climate vulnerability using Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping. Ocean and Coastal Management. 94:74-89