Juan Carlos Castilla-Rho

(Environmental Modelling and Decision Intelligence)

University of Technology Sydney

Founder, Sim4Action


Juan is a transdisciplinary systems modeller working at the interface of water resource management and computational social science. He combines numerical modelling, systems thinking and complexity science to better understand the interactions between water and society. Juan is currently pioneering the use of interactive agent-based policy simulators to engage stakeholders in the exploration of future trajectories and improve policy decisions in socio-environmental dilemmas. He has extensive research experience in complex systems, hydrologic modelling, and water resources management, working for industry and government in Australia and overseas in some of driest regions in the world. Juan’s career goals are to lead interdisciplinary investigations on problems of social importance and help communities uncover win-win solutions to social, economic and environmental dilemmas


  • Socio-hydrology
  • Decision intelligence
  • Deep uncertainty
  • Computational social science
  • Water Resources Modelling
  • Participatory Modelling
  • Agent-based Simulation
  • Management Flight Simulators
  • Scientific Computing (Python)


  • PhD in Agent-based Modelling, 2017

    University of New South Wales, Australia

  • MEngSc in Water Resources, 2012

    University of New South Wales, Australia

  • BEng in Civil Engineering (water and environmental), 2006

    Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile

Skills and Tools

I combine and use in my research, teaching, supervision, and training

Water Resources / Socio-hydrology

Agent-based Modelling

Computational Social Science

Systems Thinking

Stakeholder Engagement

Collaborative Modelling

Management Flight Simulators











Research Fellow

SMART Infrastructure Facility, University of Wollongong (UOW)

Apr 2018 – Jun 2019 Wollongong, Australia

Research Scientist

Land & Water, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)

Apr 2016 – Apr 2018 Perth, Australia

Research Engineer

UNSW Water Research Laboratory (CSIRO)

Mar 2011 – Mar 2012 Sydney, Australia

Water Engineer

Norte Ingenieria

Sep 2009 – Jan 2011 Iquique, Chile

Water Engineer

Aguas del Altiplano

Sep 2007 – Sep 2009 Iquique, Chile

Groundwater Officer

Chilean Water Authority (DGA)

Jun 2006 – Sep 2007 Iquique, Chile


ARC Discovery Project - Non-urban water governance: rethinking compliance and enforcement (Chief Investigator, DP190101584)

Early-career scientist award

Paper featured in cover of Nature journal (first author)

Best early-career oral presentation

University International Postgraduate Award (UIPA)

Australian Leadership Award


$384,000 — Non-urban water governance: rethinking compliance and enforcement — Chief Investigator (with UNSW and UC)

AU$110,000 — Integrated Hydrologic Modelling Tool for the Salar de Atacama Basin — Principal Investigator (with Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile)

AU$11,000 — KTP Visiting Fellowship — Host (with Prof. Sebastian Vicuña, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile)

AU$400,000 — SimRapel: Participatory modelling for water governance in the Rapel Basin — Principal Investigator (with CSIRO-Chile)

AU$12,000 — UOW UIC International Links Grants Scheme — Principal Investigator (with Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile)

$300,000 — SimCopiapo: Participatory modelling for water management in the Copiapo Basin — Principal Investigator (with CSIRO-Chile)

Recent Posts


Salar de Atacama

A water fight in Chile's Atacama raises questions over lithium mining


Overcoming water management stalemate in the Chilean Copiapo Basin with the help of collaborative modelling

The Groundwater Commons Game

Agent-based models uncover social tipping points in global groundwater management


Some of the amazing people I have the privilege to work with



Cameron Holley

Professor, Environmental Law

Water/Environmental Law, Water/Environmental Governance, Natural Resource Management


Moira Zellner

Associate Professor, Urban Planning and Policy

Urban Planning and policy, Complexity-based modelling, Participatory modelling exploration, Socio-ecological systems


Sebastian Vicuña

Associate Professor, Water Resource Management

Climate change adaptation, Water resources management, Public policy


Students that I’ve mentored as their advisor and/or are currently working with me.



Daniel Kenny

PhD candidate

Socio-environmental systems, Behavioural science, Social influence, Persuasion, Participatory modelling


Faris Bin Faris

PhD candidate

Data Science, Agent-based modelling, Resilient cities, Water security, Decision support systems, Usable science


Madiha Anjum

PhD candidate

Simulation Modelling and Analysis, Interactive Simulation and Intelligent Systems, Sentiment analysis and opinion mining


Marcos Canales Piccolo

PhD candidate (UTS-PUC dual degree)

Socio-hydrology, Hydroinformatics, Bibliometric analysis, Python


Pete Dupen

PhD candidate

Stakeholder engagement, Planning and approval processes, Participatory modelling



Farnaz Farhangi

Masters student

Agricultural economics, Modelling and simulation, Environmental policy analysis


Teresita Scheuch

Masters student

Water Engineering, Integrated urban water management, Hydrologic modelling, Python

Recent & Upcoming Talks

Recent Publications

Sustainable groundwater management: How long and what will it take?

Groundwater depletion is arguably one of humanity's greatest sustainability challenges of the 21st century. With Sustainable …

Artificial Intelligence in Disaster Risk Communication: A Systematic Literature Review

Effective communication of disaster risks is crucial to provoking appropriate responses from citizens and emergency operators. With …

Disaster Risk Communication in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities: The Role of Technology

Migrants, ethnic minorities and people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities are often more vulnerable to …

Social tipping points in global groundwater management

Groundwater is critical to global food security, environmental flows, and millions of rural livelihoods in the face of climate change. …