He is currently focusing on the idea of cascading effects or teleconnections; how a critical transition in an ecosystem in one part of the world can increase or decrease the likelihood of another ecosystem tipping over in another part of the world. He is developing mathematical models to explore the parameter space at which these transitions could be plausible (at Princeton). He is also looking for empirical signatures of cascading effects on trade networks (at MIT) and rainfall transport dynamics (at Stockholm University).
Rocha is also interested in methods for identifying resilience surrogates, or good observables that can tell you how resilient a system is; as well as misperception of feedback and their consequences (ie. poor governance strategies, conflicts, poverty & rigidity traps or market failures). He finds inspiration from complex systems science and the use of mathematical models, networks and other computational methods to understand social and ecological complexity.
Rocha earned his PhD in Sustainability Science from the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, where he wrote a thesis assessing global patterns of regime shifts. Rocha is an ecologist by training and before joining SRC he worked as researcher at the Center for Development Studies at Los Andes University, the Department of Rural Studies at Javeriana University, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Colombia. Rocha is an active member of the Beijer Young Scholars, the Resilience Alliance Young Scholars, the Complex Systems Society, and the South America Institute for Resilience and Sustainability Studies (SARAS2).
Rocha is also involved in outreach science initiatives, such as the Regime Shifts Database, where he has been the main contributor of scientific syntheses intended for policy makers and a general audience. He is also interested on developing data explorers that facilitate the communication of scientific knowledge to the non-scientific audience.
Rocha is also an avid climber and runner.
Awards and achievements:
Research news | 2021-01-22
Centre theme leader Juan Rocha explains why sustainability science has much to gain from a complexity perspective
Research news | 2020-10-23
Tackling alarming decline in nature needs a ‘safety net’ of multiple, ambitious goals, say researchers
Research news | 2020-09-23
Three projects looking at ways to realise the Sustainable Development Goals receive almost SEK 60 million in funding
Research news | 2020-02-03
Limited data and statistics on food availability in Ghana and Burkina Faso still produced insights that could boost sustainable resource management