Robbin Bastiaansen is our Mathematical Institute's nominee for the C.J. Kok Jury Award 2019.
‘I’m proud to have contributed to the very interdisciplinary field of pattern formation, and that my thesis research has led to new insights in ecology regarding spatially patterned ecosystems, as well as to the development of novel mathematical techniques necessary to study these systems.’
About Robbin's research
Vast, often populated areas in dryland ecosystems face the dangers of desertification. Loosely speaking, desertification is the process in which a relatively dry region loses its vegetation – typically as an effect of climate change. As an important step in this process, the lack of resources forces the vegetation in these semi-arid areas to organise itself into large-scale spatial patterns. In this thesis, these patterns are studied using conceptual mathematical models, in which vegetation patterns present themselves as localised structures, such as pulses or fronts. These are analysed, using mathematical techniques from (geometric singular) perturbation theory and via numerous numerical simulations. The study of these ecosystem models leads to new advances in both mathematics and ecology.