Dr Sondoss El Sawah

PG Systems Engineering Program Coordinator & Snr Lecturer-Engineering Management
School of Engineering and Information Technology
+61 2 6268 8098
  • ABOUT
  • PUBLICATIONS

Research Interests

My research program focuses on understanding the behaviour of large complex problems and systemic risks that arise from the interactions between social, ecological, and technological systems. This focus includes how to use this understanding to create computational tools that enable decision makers design and evaluate options to deal with such complexity. To achieve this, I use systems thinking/dynamics based methodologies to analyse complex problems as dynamic and multi-dimensional systems where human cognition is central element to help understand and manage the situation. I have applied these methodologies to address a wide range of problems in both environmental and defence sectors, such as: predicting the impacts of climate change and coal mining on socio-ecological systems, assessment of water allocation plans in the Murray Darling Basin, and lifecycle assessment of large-scale military capabilities. In addition, I have an interest in how to transfer and integrate knowledge from multiple projects and application domains to improve the practice and teaching of system dynamics methodologies.

Background

I started my academic career with a bachelor degree in Computer Science (2002) followed by a Master Science in operations research and decision support systems (2005). In 2010, I completed a PhD degree at University of New South Wales investigating the role of systems thinking and dynamic modelling in understanding and communicating about water resources management. The research has resulted in developing a decision making framework that combines cognitive, dynamic models, and gaming technologies to support public participation in water planning. The framework was used by the water industry as communication tool during the millennium drought. This work was recognized by the prestigous 2010 Best Post-graduate water Prize by the Australian Water Association.

After this, I worked as a Postdoctoral fellow at the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University. During this post, I worked on developing and applying systems methodologies to develop integrated environmental models (i.e. combining social, economic, and biophysical models) to support policy design. I worked on a large number of projects covering a wide range of issues, such as Murray-Darling Basin Plan, cumulative impacts of mining, climate change impacts, and food-energy-water nexus. I also served as a supporting junior scientist for the expert panel (including six top world environmental scientists) in CSIRO 2013 Land and Water Division Review.

In 2013, I was promoted to a chief investigator (joint position between ANU and National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training). 

I have got a taste of research at the public policy side by having a six month post as a systems analyst at the Bureau of Meteorology, where I got the opportunity to use my experience in developing a systems design process to underpin the development of the Bureau’s national water information products.

Now, I am a senior lecturer at the School of Engineering and Information Technology. I am also an adjunct fellow at the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University.

Award

 

  • The Australian Society of Operations Research Rising Start Award (2016).
  • Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand (biannual) Early Career Research Excellence award (2015).
  • Peter Cullen Trust fellowship award for leadership in bridging science-policy gap (outstanding fellow of the year; 2014)
  • Best Reviewer’s Award from the international Journal of Environmental Modelling and Software (2012)
  • The Australian Water Association (AWA) Award for best postgraduate water research (2010)


 Research topics

  • Systems thinking and modelling approaches
  • Cognitive and behavioural modelling
  • Stakeholder engagement and social learning
  • Decision Support Systems
  • Integrated and adaptive resource management

 

Memberships

  • Committee member of the Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand
  • Committee member of the Operations Research Society (ACT Chapter)
  • Organizing committee of the International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (MODSIM 2015, 2017) 

Book Chapters

Elsawah S; Guillaume JHA, 2016, 'Incorporating human aspects into groundwater research and policy making: A soft and critical systems thinking approach', in Integrated Groundwater Management: Concepts, Approaches and Challenges, pp. 619 - 637, 10.1007/978-3-319-23576-9_24

Jakeman A; Kelly R; Ticehurst J; Blakers R; Croke B; Curtis A; Fu B; Sawah SE; Gardner A; Guillaume J, 2014, 'Modelling for managing the complex issue of catchment-scale surface and groundwater allocation', in Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, pp. 25 - 41, 10.1007/978-3-319-03581-9_2

Journal articles

Moallemi EA; Elsawah S; Ryan MJ, 2018, 'Model-based multi-objective decision making under deep uncertainty from a multi-method design lens', Simulation Modelling Practice and Theory, vol. 84, pp. 232 - 250, 10.1016/j.simpat.2018.02.009

Voinov A; Jenni K; Gray S; Kolagani N; Glynn PD; Bommel P; Prell C; Zellner M; Paolisso M; Jordan R, 2018, 'Tools and methods in participatory modeling: Selecting the right tool for the job', Environmental Modelling and Software, vol. 109, pp. 232 - 255, 10.1016/j.envsoft.2018.08.028

Moallemi EA; Elsawah S; Ryan MJ, 2018, 'An agent-monitored framework for the output-oriented design of experiments in exploratory modelling', Simulation Modelling Practice and Theory, vol. 89, pp. 48 - 63, 10.1016/j.simpat.2018.09.008

Elsawah S; McLucas A; Mazanov J, 2017, 'An empirical investigation into the learning effects of management flight simulators: A mental models approach', European Journal of Operational Research, vol. 259, pp. 262 - 272, 10.1016/j.ejor.2016.10.011

Elsawah S; Pierce SA; Hamilton SH; van Delden H; Haase D; Elmahdi A; Jakeman AJ, 2017, 'An overview of the system dynamics process for integrated modelling of socio-ecological systems: Lessons on good modelling practice from five case studies', Environmental Modelling and Software, vol. 93, pp. 127 - 145, 10.1016/j.envsoft.2017.03.001

Merritt WS; Fu B; Ticehurst JL; El Sawah S; Vigiak O; Roberts AM; Dyer F; Pollino CA; Guillaume JHA; Croke BFW, 2017, 'Realizing modelling outcomes: A synthesis of success factors and their use in a retrospective analysis of 15 Australian water resource projects', Environmental Modelling and Software, vol. 94, pp. 63 - 72, 10.1016/j.envsoft.2017.03.021

Zare F; Elsawah S; Iwanaga T; Jakeman AJ; Pierce SA, 2017, 'Integrated water assessment and modelling: A bibliometric analysis of trends in the water resource sector', Journal of Hydrology, vol. 552, pp. 765 - 778, 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2017.07.031

Guillaume JHA; Helgeson C; Elsawah S; Jakeman AJ; Kummu M, 2017, 'Toward best practice framing of uncertainty in scientific publications: A review of Water Resources Research abstracts', Water Resources Research, vol. 53, pp. 6744 - 6762, 10.1002/2017WR020609

Jnitova V; Elsawah S; Ryan M, 2017, 'Review of simulation models in military workforce planning and management context', Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation, vol. 14, pp. 447 - 463, 10.1177/1548512917704525

Elsawah S; Guillaume JHA; Filatova T; Rook J; Jakeman AJ, 2015, 'A methodology for eliciting, representing, and analysing stakeholder knowledge for decision making on complex socio-ecological systems: From cognitive maps to agent-based models', Journal of Environmental Management, vol. 151, pp. 500 - 516, 10.1016/j.jenvman.2014.11.028

Lucena-Moya P; Brawata R; Kath J; Harrison E; ElSawah S; Dyer F, 2015, 'Discretization of continuous predictor variables in Bayesian networks: An ecological threshold approach', Environmental Modelling and Software, vol. 66, pp. 36 - 45, 10.1016/j.envsoft.2014.12.019

Hamilton SH; ElSawah S; Guillaume JHA; Jakeman AJ; Pierce SA, 2015, 'Integrated assessment and modelling: Overview and synthesis ofsalient dimensions', Environmental Modelling and Software, vol. 64, pp. 215 - 229, 10.1016/j.envsoft.2014.12.005

Kath J; Powell S; Reardon-Smith K; El Sawah S; Jakeman AJ; Croke BFW; Dyer FJ, 2015, 'Groundwater salinization intensifies drought impacts in forests and reduces refuge capacity', Journal of Applied Ecology, vol. 52, pp. 1116 - 1125, 10.1111/1365-2664.12495

ElSawah S; McLucas A; Mazanov J, 2015, 'Communicating About Water Issues in Australia: A Simulation/Gaming Approach', Simulation and Gaming, vol. 46, pp. 713 - 741, 10.1177/1046878115580410

Guillaume JHA; El Sawah S, 2014, 'Fostering assumption-based stress-test thinking in managing groundwater systems: learning to avoid failures due to basic dynamics', Hydrogeology Journal, vol. 22, pp. 1507 - 1523, 10.1007/s10040-014-1153-x

Dyer F; ElSawah S; Croke B; Griffiths R; Harrison E; Lucena-Moya P; Jakeman A, 2014, 'The effects of climate change on ecologically-relevant flow regime and water quality attributes', Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment, vol. 28, pp. 67 - 82, 10.1007/s00477-013-0744-8

ElSawah S; Mclucas A; Mazanov J, 2013, 'Using a Cognitive Mapping Approach to Frame the Perceptions of Water Users About Managing Water Resources: A Case Study in the Australian Capital Territory', Water Resources Management, vol. 27, pp. 3441 - 3456, 10.1007/s11269-013-0357-5

Iwanaga T; El Sawah S; Jakeman A, 2013, 'Design and implementation of a web-based groundwater data management system', Mathematics and Computers in Simulation, vol. 93, pp. 164 - 174, 10.16/j.matcom.2012.11.009

Iwanaga T; El Sawah S; Jakeman A, 2013, 'Design and implementation of a web-based groundwater data management system', Mathematics and Computers in Simulation, 10.1016/j.matcom.2012.11.009

Kelly RA; Jakeman AJ; Barreteau O; Borsuk ME; ElSawah S; Hamilton SH; Henriksen HJ; Kuikka S; Maier HR; Rizzoli AE, 2013, 'Selecting among five common modelling approaches for integrated environmental assessment and management', Environmental Modelling and Software, vol. 47, pp. 159 - 181, 10.1016/j.envsoft.2013.05.005

McIntosh BS; Ascough JC; Twery M; Chew J; Elmahdi A; Haase D; Harou JJ; Hepting D; Cuddy S; Jakeman AJ, 2011, 'Environmental decision support systems (EDSS) development - Challenges and best practices', Environmental Modelling and Software, vol. 26, pp. 1389 - 1402, 10.1016/j.envsoft.2011.09.009

Wang XJ; Zhang JY; Liu JF; Wang GQ; He RM; Elmahdi A; Elsawah S, 2011, 'Water resources planning and management based on system dynamics: A case study of Yulin city', Environment, Development and Sustainability, vol. 13, pp. 331 - 351, 10.1007/s10668-010-9264-6

Wang X-J; Zhang J-Y; He R-M; Amgad E; Sondoss E; Shang M-T, 2011, 'A strategy to deal with water crisis under climate change for mainstream in the middle reaches of Yellow River', Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, vol. 16, pp. 555 - 566, 10.1007/s11027-010-9279-1

El Sawah SA; Mclucas A; Mazanov J, 2008, 'Water Management in the Australian Capital Territory: Problem Structuring using SODA', ASOR Bulletin, vol. 27, pp. 2 - 12

El Sawah S; El Fattah Tharwat AA; Rasmy MH, 2008, 'A quantitative model to predict the Egyptian ERP implementation success index', Business Process Management Journal, vol. 14, pp. 288 - 306, 10.1108/14637150810876643

Conference Papers

Moallemi E; El Sawah S; Ryan M, 2018, 'Informing the Delineation of Input Uncertainty Space in Exploratory Modelling using a Heuristic Approach', in 28th Annual International INCOSE Symposium, 28th Annual International INCOSE Symposium, Washington DC, presented at 28th Annual International INCOSE Symposium, Washington DC, 07 - 12 July 2018

Lai S; El Sawah S; Ryan M, 2018, 'A Prototype Model for Evaluating Decision Options for Recruitment and Employment of Women in Defence', in Systems Engineering / Test and Evaluation Conference, Systems Engineering / Test and Evaluation Conference, Sydney, presented at Systems Engineering / Test and Evaluation Conference, Sydney, 30 April - 01 May 2018

Turan H; El sawah S; Moallemi E; Ryan M, 2018, 'Optimizing acquisition strategies for high-value assets via simulation-based genetic algorithm', in Optimizing acquisition strategies for high-value assets via simulation-based genetic algorithm, Systems Engineering / Test and Evaluation Conference (SETE2018), Sydney, presented at Systems Engineering / Test and Evaluation Conference (SETE2018), Sydney, 30 April - 02 May 2018

Moallemi E; Elsawah S; Ryan MJ, 2018, 'Towards an Integrated Approach for Multi-objective Decision Making Under Uncertainty', in Towards an Integrated Approach for Multi-objective Decision Making Under Uncertainty, Systems Engineering / Test and Evaluation Conference SETE2018, Sydney, presented at Systems Engineering / Test and Evaluation Conference SETE2018, Sydney, 30 April - 02 May 2018

Joshua Bowers; El Sawah SA; Ryan M, 2017, 'Reusable Modules to Support Rapid Model Building: A Case Study of Defence Force Design', in Proceedings of INCOSE International Symposium, INCOSE International Symposium, Adelaide, presented at INCOSE International Symposium, Adelaide, 15 - 20 July 2017

Kristy Hudson; El Sawah S; Ryan MJ, 2017, 'A prototype simulation model for army logistics training', in Proceedings of the INCOSE International Symposium, INCOSE International Symposium, Adelaide, presented at INCOSE International Symposium, Adelaide, 15 - 20 July 2017

Jnitova VICTORIA; El Sawah SA; Ryan MJ, 2017, 'Towards a modular System Dynamics approach for modelling military workforce planning problems', in Towards a modular System Dynamics approach for modelling military workforce planning problems, INCOSE International Symposium, Adelaide, Australia, presented at INCOSE International Symposium, Adelaide, Australia, 15 - 20 July 2017, 10.1002/j.2334-5837.2017.00388.x/abstract

Moallemi E; El Sawah S; Ryan MJ, (eds.), 2017, 'Dynamic modelling of complex systems under deep uncertainty using an exploratory multi-method approach', in MODSIM 2017: Managing cumulative risks through model-based processes, The Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand Inc, Hobart, Australia, presented at 22nd International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (MODSIM2017), Hobart, Australia, 03 - 08 December 2017, https://www.mssanz.org.au/modsim2017/documents/MODSIM2017_book_abstracts.pdf

Mouthaan RA; El Sawah S; Ryan M, 2017, 'A Conceptual Model for the Identification of Suitable Personnel to Operate in High-risk, Physically Demanding Environments', in 22nd International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (MODSIM2017), 22nd International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (MODSIM2017), Hobart, presented at 22nd International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (MODSIM2017), Hobart, 04 - 08 December 2017

El Sawah SA; Ryan M, 2016, 'A modular and approach to dynamic modelling approach for capability planning', in Australasian Simulation Congress SimTect 2016, Australasian Simulation Congress SimTect 2016, Melbourne, presented at Australasian Simulation Congress SimTect 2016, Melbourne, 26 - 29 September 2016

Jnitova V; El Sawah S; Ryan M, 2016, 'Modelling the Complexity of RAN Training Pipelines: A System Dynamics Approach', in Modelling the Complexity of RAN Training Pipelines: A System Dynamics Approach, Australasian Simulation Congress SimTect, Melbourne, presented at Australasian Simulation Congress SimTect, Melbourne, 26 - 29 September 2016

Ryan MJ; El Sawah; McLucas, 2015, 'On the Issues of Model (Re)usability in Systems Engineering: Some Reminders', in Systems Engineering / Test and Evaluation Conference SETE2015, Systems Engineering / Test and Evaluation Conference SETE2015, Canberra, presented at Systems Engineering / Test and Evaluation Conference SETE2015, Canberra, 27 - 29 April 2015

El Sawah S; McLucas A; Ryan M, (eds.), 2015, 'Generic and reusable structure in systems dynamics modelling: roadmap of literature and future research questions', in Proceedings of the 33rd International Conference of the System Dynamics Society, Proceedings of the 33rd International Conference of the System Dynamics Society, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, presented at Proceedings of the 33rd International Conference of the System Dynamics Society, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, 19 - 23 July 2015, http://www.systemdynamics.org/conferences/2015/proceed/index.html

El Sawah SA; Ryan MJ; McLucas AC, 2015, 'Beyond why to what and how: the use of systems thinking to support problem formulation in systems engineering applications', in Proceedings of the 21st International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (MODSIM2015),, he 21st International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (MODSIM2015), Gold Coast, Australia, presented at he 21st International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (MODSIM2015), Gold Coast, Australia, 29 November - 04 December 2015

Abdelbari H; el sawah S; Shafi K, 2015, 'Model learning using genetic programming under full and partial system information conditions', in Proceedings of the 33rd International Conference of the System Dynamics Society, 33rd International Conference of the System Dynamics Society, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, presented at 33rd International Conference of the System Dynamics Society, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, 19 - 23 July 2015

Croke BFW; Blakers RS; El Sawah S; Fu B; Guillaume JHA; Kelly RA; Patrick MJ; Ross A; Ticehurst J; Barthel R, 2014, 'Marrying Hydrological Modelling and Integrated Assessment for the needs of Water Resource Management', in IAHS-AISH Proceedings and Reports, pp. 351 - 356, presented at

El Sawah S; Kelly (nee Letcher) RA; Beverly C; Stott K; Patrick MJ; Kath J; Croke BFW; Qureshi ME; Courtney-Barrer B; Asher MJ, (eds.), 2013, 'An integrated model to examine the effects of Sustainable Diversion Limits: A case study in the Lower Campaspe catchment', in 20TH INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS ON MODELLING AND SIMULATION (MODSIM2013), MODELLING & SIMULATION SOC AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND INC, Adelaide, AUSTRALIA, pp. 2131 - 2137, presented at 20th International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (MODSIM), Adelaide, AUSTRALIA, 01 - 06 December 2013

Hamilton SH; Guillaume JHA; ElSawah S, (eds.), 2013, 'Modelling Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems in the Willunga Basin, South Australia', in 20TH INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS ON MODELLING AND SIMULATION (MODSIM2013), MODELLING & SIMULATION SOC AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND INC, Adelaide, AUSTRALIA, pp. 2945 - 2951, presented at 20th International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (MODSIM), Adelaide, AUSTRALIA, 01 - 06 December 2013

Sojda RS; Chen SH; El Sawah S; Guillaume JHA; Jakeman AJ; Lautenbach S; McIntosh BS; Rizzoli AE; Seppelt R; Struss P, 2012, 'Identifying the decision to be supported: A review of papers from environmental modelling and software', in iEMSs 2012 - Managing Resources of a Limited Planet: Proceedings of the 6th Biennial Meeting of the International Environmental Modelling and Software Society, pp. 73 - 80, presented at

ElSawah S; Haase D; Van Delden H; Pierce S; ElMahdi A; Voinov AA; Jakeman AJ, 2012, 'Using system dynamics for environmental modelling: Lessons learnt from six case studies', in iEMSs 2012 - Managing Resources of a Limited Planet: Proceedings of the 6th Biennial Meeting of the International Environmental Modelling and Software Society, pp. 1367 - 1374, presented at

Dyer F; El Sawah S; Harrison E; Broad S; Croke B; Norris R; Jakeman A, 2011, 'Predicting water quality responses to a changing climate: Building an integrated modelling framework', in IAHS-AISH Publication, pp. 178 - 183, presented at

El Sawah S; Hicks A; Manger P; Athanasiadis IN; Croke BFW; Jakeman AJ, 2011, 'A web-based platform for integrated groundwater data management', in MODSIM 2011 - 19th International Congress on Modelling and Simulation - Sustaining Our Future: Understanding and Living with Uncertainty, pp. 3141 - 3147, presented at

El Sawah S; Guillaume HA; Mitchell M, 2011, 'Using participatory rapid appraisal and DPSIR approaches for participatory modelling: A case study for groundwater management in South Australia', in MODSIM 2011 - 19th International Congress on Modelling and Simulation - Sustaining Our Future: Understanding and Living with Uncertainty, pp. 2873 - 2879, presented at

Jakeman AJ; El Sawah S; Guillaume JHA; Pierce SA, 2011, 'Making progress in integrated modelling and environmental decision support', in IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology, pp. 15 - 25, presented at , 10.1007/978-3-642-22285-6_2

Ryan MJ; El Sawah SA; Mclucas A, 2010, 'Understanding the Complex System Dynamics of Managing Water Security', in 20th Anniversary International INCOSE Symposium, INCOSE, Chicago, pp. 1 - 15, presented at 20th Anniversary International INCOSE Symposium, Chicago, 12 - 15 July 2010, http://www.incose.org/ProductsPubs/incosestore.aspx

El Sawah SA; Mclucas A; Ryan MJ, 2010, 'Communicating the Relationship Between Supply and Demand in the Management of the ACT’s Water', in Proceedings SETE 2010 Conference, SESA, Adelaide, presented at SETE 2010, Adelaide, 03 - 05 May 2010, http://www.systemdynamics.org/conferences/2009/proceed/papers/P1136.pdf

El Sawah SA; Mclucas A; Ryan MJ, 2010, 'Using cognitive mapping to elicit modelling requirements: An overview', in Proceedings of the 2010 18th IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference, RE2010, IEEE, Sydney, NSW, pp. 357 - 363, presented at 2010 18th IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference, RE2010, Sydney, NSW, 27 September - 01 October 2010, 10.1109/RE.2010.51

El Sawah S; McLucas A; Ryan M, 2010, 'Using cognitive mapping to elicit modelling requirements: An overview', in Proceedings of the 2010 18th IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference, RE2010, pp. 357 - 363, presented at , 10.1109/RE.2010.51

El Sawah S; McLucas A; Ryan M, 2010, 'Understanding the complex system dynamics of managing water security', in 20th Annual International Symposium of the International Council on Systems Engineering, INCOSE 2010, pp. 339 - 353, presented at

El Sawah SA; Mclucas A, 2008, 'ACT Water Management: A System Dynamics Based Learning Intervention', in Proc: International System Dynamics Conference, System Dynamics Society, 2008 International Conference of the System Dynamics Society, Athens, Greece, presented at 2008 International Conference of the System Dynamics Society, Athens, Greece, 20 - 24 July 2008

Reports

El Sawah SA; Dyer FD; Lucena-Moya P; Harrison E; Croke B; Tschierschke A; Griffiths R; Brawata R; Kath J; Reynoldson T, 2013, Predicting water quality and ecological responses, National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, https://www.nccarf.edu.au/publications/predicting-water-quality-ecological-responses