I am a PhD Candidate in Environmental and Resource Economics in the Duke University Program in Environmental Policy.
My research focuses on environmental, agricultural and natural resource policy in lower income countries. I work to improve our understanding of the relationships between poverty, agriculture and land use change such as deforestation, and our understanding of the institutions and incentives which mediate these relationships. In doing so I aim to inform policies which improve environmental outcomes – such as biodiversity conservation and water quality – while promoting economic development.
I also work on the design and evaluation of market-based instruments for improved environmental decision-making in other policy domains, such as in fisheries management and water management.
Questions that I’m trying to answer right now include:
- Are there conditions in which new road development could help prevent deforestation?
- Can we predict where new roads will have positive impacts for both economic development and environmental outcomes?
- Can we design better financial incentives to encourage communities to work together for forest conservation?
- Do financial incentives for forest conservation risk reducing peoples’ willingness to contribute voluntarily to the same cause?
- Can markets for groundwater ease the transition towards sustainable irrigation?
- Does quota-based fisheries management end ‘the race to fish’?
Although the ideas and philosophies underlying environmental and resource economics are fascinating in themselves, I focus on those ideas which I believe have the best potential for improving environments or human welfare. This applied focus, grounded in fieldwork and policy reality, is what I call muddy boots economics.
Prior to commencing my PhD research, I completed an M.Sc (Agricultural and Resource Economics) at the University of Alberta, Canada, and a B.A (Economics) and B.Sc (Ecology, Environmental Geosciences) from the University of Adelaide, Australia.
I worked for 5 years (part and full time) at the Policy and Economic Research Unit of the CSIRO (Australia’s National Research Agency), on land use, water and climate change policy. I subsequently taught undergraduate natural resource economics, and worked on projects for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce.
I have fieldwork and research experience in Tanzania (forest conservation program design), Mexico (community forest management), India (roads and forest transitions), West Africa (water-related poverty), the Solomon Islands (social and environmental impacts of the tourism industry) and Southern Australia (land use change and water management).
My current academic home, the Duke University PhD Program in Environmental Policy, is housed jointly by the Nicholas School of Environment and the Sanford School of Public Policy. My coursework was primarily taken in the Economics Department. I am a fan of this program for its blend of analytical rigor and policy relevance. The community of people we have is also pretty great.