First I do extensive research and see if solutions can be adapted from other fields. I then draw out the situation using diagrams and mind mapping. I often find that reducing the problem into the simplest parts will produce elegant solutions.
Elliott Kurtz's Problem Solving Skills:
Performer and student of Eastern European Folk Music
Research and analysis of spatial and non-spatial field data
GIS / Spatial analysis
R Statistical Programming
Field animal tracking and data collection
Basic Scripting in Python
Setting up experimental research projects
Coordinating researchers and data collectors
Laboratory research of algae growth
Collecting data from an research vessel
Laboratory research of fish parasitology
Field research of small reptile ecology
Elliott Kurtz's Problem Solving Experience:
I found a solution to allow for faster counting of algae cells using image analysis software and microscopy which expedited growth experiments.
I improved a data management scheme so that field data collected by "citizen scientist" volunteers can be used more efficiently and with greater accuracy. This system coordinated and trained volunteers so that inexperienced observers could collect usable data.
I developed a method of collecting data over many spatial scales to relate land use patterns and local water quality indices to local plant abundance within a GIS using freely available data sets. This allowed for observations and analysis that would have impossible with field sampling alone.