Patrick Bitterman
Assistant Professor Geography


I study adaptive decision-making in social-ecological systems at multiple scales - ranging from individual adaptations by farmers to adaptive management in multiplex governance networks. In my research, I leverage the development and application of geospatial modeling (in particular, agent-based models and coupled models) to issues of water quality governance and decision-making in large, regional-scale watersheds. My current projects include modeling water quality governance in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, climate change adaptation in the US Midwest, water quality policy in New England, and rural water scarcity in southeast India. I am also interested in public health and its connection to green infrastructure and ecosystem services. Much of my work takes place in large interdisciplinary teams, where we try our best to integrate knowledge from a wide array of disciplines and specialties to tackle wicked social-environmental issues.

Research and Current Projects

  • CNH2-L: Modelling the dynamics of human and estuarine systems with regulatory feedbacks
  • Modeling water governance in the Lake Champlain Basin
  • Social vulnerability to floods in Nebraska
  • A census of watershed-scale governance structures in the US
  • More research projects


  • GEOG 181: Global Environmental Issues
  • GEOG 217: Principles of GIS
  • GEOG 422/822: Advanced GIS
  • GEOG 432/832: Programming, Scripting, and Automation for GIS

Selected Publications

Bitterman P., C. Koliba. 2020. Modeling Alternative Collaborative Governance Network Designs: An Agent-Based Model of Water Governance in the Lake Champlain Basin, Vermont. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory. doi: 10.1093/jopart/muaa013.

Bitterman P., D.A. Bennett, and S. Secchi. 2019. Constraints on Farmer Adaptability in the Iowa-Cedar River Basin. Environmental Science & Policy. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2018.11.004.

Carrel, Margaret, C. Zhao, D. Thapaliya, P. Bitterman, A. E. Kates, B. M. Hanson, T. C. Smith. 2017. Assessing the potential for raw meat to influence human colonization with Staphylococcus aureus. Scientific Reports. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-11423-6

van Riper, C. J., A. C. Landon, S. Kidd, P. Bitterman, L. A. Fitzgerald, E. F. Granek, S. Ibarra, D. Iwaniec, C. M. Raymond, and D. Toledo. 2017. Incorporating socio-cultural phenomena into ecosystem service valuation: The importance of critical pluralism. BioScience. doi: 10.1093/biosci/biw170.    

Bitterman, P., E. Tate, K. J. Van Meter, and N. B. Basu. 2016. Water security and rainwater harvesting: A conceptual framework and candidate indicators. Applied Geography 76: 75-84. doi: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2016.09.013

Bitterman, P., and D. A. Bennett. 2016. Constructing stability landscapes to identify alternative states in coupled social-ecological agent-based models. Ecology and Society 21(3): 21. doi: 10.5751/ES-08677-210321.   


  • Ph.D., Geography, Department of Geographical and Sustainability Sciences, University of Iowa, 2017
  • B.S., Geography, University of Iowa, 2011