Briefly describe your career path—up to this point.
I received my undergraduate degree from Saint John’s University in Minnesota in 1990, and my PhD in economics from Iowa State University in December 1997. I joined the agricultural and resource economics department at North Carolina State as an assistant professor in 1998, and was subsequently promoted to associate and full professor positions during my 13 years on the faculty. I joined the agricultural and applied economics department at UW-Madison in January 2012. During graduate school and as a faculty member at NCSU I spent time visiting three different universities in Germany, with the most recent being the 2009-10 academic year at the University of Kiel, where I worked on a book with a German colleague.
What is the main focus of your research program?
I am an environmental economist, which means I am interested in the interactions between human behavior and the environment, and what these interactions mean for environmental outcomes and policy. My area of expertise is in valuing environmental goods in a way that allows comparison of the benefits of various competing uses of environmental resources. I have applied my expertise to water quality, land use and invasive species management in the Upper Midwest and Southeast.
What drew you to UW-Madison?
Two things brought me to UW-Madison. On a personal note, I grew up in Minnesota and had long been interested in moving back to the Midwest. At the end of 2011 all the family and professional stars had aligned, and a move became possible. I am happy to report that my kids can now see their grandparents in the Twin Cities on any given weekend, and I can enjoy the four seasons and all the outdoor activities that come along with them. On a professional note, it became increasingly important to me to be part of a world class institution that set high expectations and standards for itself and its faculty. As one of the top public universities in the country UW-Madison met both my professional and personal criteria, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to be part of this community.