Predicting how highly variable, but quantifiable, interactions at the level
of individuals drive dynamics at the scale of populations/communities presents a fundamental challenge
to population biology. We apply a statistical-physics framework
to model initial growth and subsequent spatial propagation of ecologically
invasive species. Recent results, developed in collaboration with
Dr. G. Korniss, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute,
address (1) the critical radius for expected growth of invader clusters in a competitive environment,
(2) scaling laws linking stochastic roughening of an invasive front to the most advanced
location of the invading species, and (3) how an understanding of spatially detailed,
invasive growth can be applied to limit the economic cost of ecological restoration.
We also contribute models of bacteriophage population dyanmics to a study of the evolutionary
ecology of viral host choice.