Visit from Rick McKenzie PhD, Old Dominion University 2018/05/18

This week, we were visited by Rick D. McKenzie, PhD from the “Old Dominion University in Virginia, USA”. Rick is professor and chair at the department of “modeling, Simulation and Visualization Engineering”. The reason of the visit was the exchange of knowledge for future co-operations and him getting to know our team.


Happy faces after successful short course run in South Africa 2018/03/02

Another short course on social-ecological modelling was successfully conducted by members of the Ars Africae project and the MARS team at Witwatersrand University, South Africa (Wits Rural Facility). The general aim of this course is to introduce multi-agent modelling and simulation as a powerful tool to gain a better mechanistic understanding about complex adaptive systems like social-ecological systems are.

If you are interested in this general topic you may register for one of the next runs by sending an email to

4th Inter-disciplinary Workshop on Social-Ecological Modelling 2018/01/15

Following the third successful inter-disciplinary workshop on ecological modelling held at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in November 2016 as part of the ARS Africae project we invite you to participate in another such workshop to be held at the Wits Rural Facility (near Hoedspruit) from the 27th February to the 2nd March 2018 (both dates inclusive). Note that this workshop takes place immediately prior to the Savanna Network Meeting to minimize travel costs for participants attending both.

The general aim of this workshop is to introduce multi-agent modelling, i.e. a specific form of individual-based modelling, as a valuable approach for dealing with complex social-ecological systems, including the management thereof. In addition we will present an introduction to vegetation modelling. This aspect of modelling has not been covered in previous workshops, but we feel that it would be a good fit to the agent-based modelling on which most of the content is based.

We welcome participants interested in all aspects of ecological modelling–from the teaching of modelling, through the actual collection of data and implementation of computer models for particular research purposes, to the interpretation and analysis of the results. Owing to the additional focus on the interpretation of modelling results during this workshop, stakeholders involved in environmental management are particularly encouraged to attend.

Please could you indicate your willingness to participate by emailing Karen Bradshaw ( before the 18th January 2018, stating your area of interest and any specific topics for discussion that would be of particular benefit to you.

Funding for hosting this workshop (as well as some funding for accommodation) is available through the ARS Africae project.

Workshop presenters

Prof Karen Bradshaw (PhD), Dept. of Computer Science, Rhodes University, South Africa (

Prof Dr Thomas Clemen, Dept. of Computer Science, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Germany (

Dr Simon Scheiter, Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, Univ. of Frankfurt, Germany (

Ulfia Lenfers, Dept. of Computer Science, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Germany, (

Julius Weyl, Dept. of Computer Science, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, German, (

GPU Programming Workshop on Wednesday the 13th 2017/12/11

Prof. Karen Bradshaw from Rhodes University, South Africa who is visiting us this week will give a course on GPU programming.

The workshop takes place at 8:30 on Wednesday the 13th in Berliner Tor 5 room 1.10. There is no signup process, so just come by if you are interested.

The first hour will be an introduction, followed up by a practical part, so make sure you are on time and bring a laptop.

The lecture is focusing on OpenACC. Please install it ahead of time, so we can get started right away.

Research funding from the City of Hamburg received 2017/10/19

This week, we have been granted research funds from the city of Hamburg. The funds have been granted to the SmartOpenHamburg project which is part of the information platform Members of the MARS group will work on this project in cooperation with the University of Hamburg.

The project aims to empower decision makers, by giving better information for the urban space. The MARS simulation system will be used to simulate urban traffic, logistics among other topics and future scenarios for city development.

Visit from Ph.D. Student Gwendoline Traisnel 2017/10/10

For the last two weeks, Gwendoline Traisnel has been visiting the MARS team. She is a Ph.D. student at Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Her studies focus on the behavioral ecology of African penguins. She analyses between-individual variation in behavior and its influence on population dynamics during climate change.

The reason for visiting the MARS group is to develop an individual-based model to predict the impact of reduced prey availability on adult and chick African penguin survival rates.



Visit from the Senckenberg Research Institute 2017/08/24

Dr. Simon Scheiter and Carola Martens from the Senckenberg Research Institute at the University of Frankfurt visited the MARS lab between August, 14th and 17th. Both groups are currently working on different approaches for modelling savanna system dynamics. Main goal of this scientific exchange was discussing opportunities for coupling adaptive dynamic global vegetation models (aDGVM) with MARS. The very promising results will be published soon.

New Job Offerings for Students available! 2017/07/27

The MARS Team is looking for 2 students who are interested in taking a job for 40 – 80 hours per month and help with the Development of our MARS Urban model and the corresponding tooling. A description and further details are available here:

Visit by Partners from University of Florida 2017/06/19

Last week,  professor Greg Kiker and his PhD student Tori Morgan from the University of Florida (UF) visited us in Hamburg. The purpose of this visit was to deepen the partnership in ecological agent-based modelling, that exists since 2012.

Prof. Kiker is currently working on a research paper that compares the QND simulation system with MARS. Also, there are plans to use the MARS simulation system for educational purposes at the UF.

Tori Morgan recently started her studies on an agent-based model for simulating human and ecological exposure to mercury from informal gold mining activities in Columbia.


Christian and Tori discussing the mercury model.

MARSFest 2017 at University of Florida Gainesville – Day 3 2017/05/04

It’s a wrap! A very successful final day at the MARSFest 2017 is over! After discussing the results from various Wolves-Sheep-Model runs and revisiting the concepts and learning from Day 2, the group went on to take a look at the Kruger National Park model. For 2 hours we went through the features and discussed the agent-based design of this fully-featured large-scale MARS model. After a lunch break the attendees went on to alter and extend the Wolves-Sheep Model. For instance, they added a Mercury layer in order to poison the grass and thus the sheep as well as the wolves. Two other students directly jumped into working on their PhD projects with MARS. Very nice!

Dr. Greg Kiker explaining the Potential Field for Vegetation Cover in Kruger National Park.

Dr. Greg Kiker explaining more of the code.

Two screenshots from the Household Energy Resource (HER) model by Jaime Leon.

Showing the way data and model code get together in the MARS WebUI.

The cloud usage during the workshop. MARS running efficiently on the available hardware.