Faculty, staff, and students develop, test, and implement innovative methods and models that reflect the need to integrate the social, built, natural, and human capital components of our world. They research ways to shift the world's economies away from their present emphasis on infinite economic growth and toward a focus on sustainable human well-being. To forge fresh and visionary approaches to the economic challenges and opportunities that await us in the 21st century, they bring together experts, teachers, students, and stakeholders from many disciplines to pioneer vital, new developmental tools and ideas.

Faculty Research Programs

Jon Erickson

Jon Erickson and Maasai. Photo by Michel Masozera.

Ecological economics, sustainable development, systems modeling

Jon’s research centers on ecological economics, with questions based around economics, sustainability, equity, and efficiency. His current projects include research on adaptation to climate change, a study of forest ecosystem services and salvage logging after wind disturbances, work in Tanzania on livestock and human health in a changing climate, and the Vermont Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI).

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Brendan Fisher

Boat launch Mozambique

Ecosystem services; conservation and human welfare; poverty, equity and the environment; ecological/environmental economics; behavioral economics

Brendan's research is motivated by his interest in the strong connections that link human well-being, human behavior and the state/management of our natural world. His research and fieldwork lie at the nexus of conservation, development, and economics.  He approaches this work in two complimentary ways – a big data, statistical modeling approach with support from NSF-SESYNC, and through applied research.  Current projects include building and analyzing a “big data” database with over a billion observations across 50 countries linking conservation and human health and welfare; studying the human and biophysical impacts of fishing and farming interventions on rural coastal communities in northern Mozambique, and behavioral economics experiments investigating the links between social context and pro-sociality.

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Gillian Galford

Men in agriculture field with oxen

Land-cover and land-use change, remote sensing, ecosystems ecology, ecosystems modeling, biogeochemistry, environmental sustainability

Gillian's research broadly focuses on land cover and land use change. She considers ecosystem ecology and biogeochemistry using remote sensing and ecosystem modeling as primary tools. She is particularly interested in human interactions with natural and human landscapes and their impacts on carbon storage and nitrogen cycles. Her current projects are around the world and include a study in India on climate variability and food production using remote sensing; work in Malawi using remote sensing to understand the impacts of an agricultural input subsidy on food production, the environment, and poverty; a project in Brazil focused on disruptions to the natural nitrogen cycle based on farming practices in the Amazon; and a pair of Vermont-based projects about valuing ecosystem services on conserved lands and a climate change impact assessment for the economic sectors in Vermont.

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Taylor Ricketts

Researcher studying blueberries and pollinators

Landscape ecology, conservation biology, ecological economics, ecosystem services, pollination, biodiversity

Taylor Ricketts’ research broadly focuses on how we can meet the needs of people and nature in an increasingly crowded, changing world. He emphasizes both rigorous research and real world application. Some of his current projects include Health and Ecosystems: Analysis of Linkages (HEAL) which considers ecosystem alterations and the effects on public health; the Natural Capital Project, which develops tools to quantify values for Earth’s resources; the ecology and economics of crop pollination service;, and global distribution of biodiversity. He is also the director of The Gund Institute for Environment.

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Joe Roman


Biodiversity and ecosystem services, biological invasions, marine population genetics, and marine ecology

Joe is a conservation biologist. His broad research interests span endangered species policy, marine mammals, invasive species, and biodiversity and human health. He is the author of Listed: Dispatches from America's Endangered Species Act (Harvard University Press, 2011).

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Brian Voigt

Moab, Utah

Modeling, analyzing, quantifying land use change; ecosystem service assessment and valuation; quantitative spatial analysis

Brian's research focuses on ecosystem services, quantitative geography, land use planning, economics, natural hazards, sociology and GIS. He strives to make his work as applied as possible, frequently linking his research into the land use planning process. In Tanzania, he is modeling access to freshwater, economic livelihoods and health outcomes for pastoral households. Another project in Moab, Utah considers recreational and water impacts from oil, gas and potash development on one million acres of public land. Brian also has two current projects focused on the Lake Champlain basin. The first considers the impacts of land use and land cover change on the delivery of ecosystem services, while the second project is attempting to quantify the economic value of clean water in Lake Champlain. In addition to his specific projects, Brian works on developing and implementing the ARIES (Artificial Intelligence for Ecosystem Services) modeling platform, developing case studies and identifying software needs for quantifying and analyzing the flow of ecosystem services.

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Eva (Lini) Wollenberg

Woman in agriculture field

Climate change and land use, natural resource governance, agriculture-forest landscapes

Lini’s research focuses on policy and institutional arrangements for improved rural livelihoods and conservation outcomes in agriculture-forest landscapes of the developing world. She leads the low emissions agriculture theme of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). This program works to identify opportunities for reducing the emissions without compromising agricultural development objectives in low- and middle-income countries.

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