New faculty profile: Sarah Johnston specializes in natural resource and environmental economics

Sarah Johnston joined the faculty in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics as an assistant professor in August 2018.

What is your educational/professional background?

I grew up in Carson City, NV. I have a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan and a B.A. in economics from Dartmouth College. Before coming to CALS, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the UW–Madison Department of Economics.

How did you get into your field of research?

Since college, I have been interested in using economics to create better policies. Before working on my own research, I worked as a research assistant for economists whose research focused on healthcare, education, and energy and environmental economics. I enjoyed working on applications in all three areas but eventually settled on energy and environmental economics.

What are the main goals of your research program?

I study the relationship between energy policy and firm investment decisions. I am interested in taking what we know about firm behavior and using it to understand the effects of policies like subsidies for renewable energy.

What attracted you to UW–Madison?

It’s a great university. I also enjoy living in Midwestern university towns. I lived in Ann Arbor for six years before moving here.

What was your first visit to campus like? 

My first visit was in mid-February, and it was very cold. Even still, the place had the feel of a vibrant university community. I really enjoyed my stay at the Union South hotel with its On Wisconsin! pillows.

What are you most enjoying so far about working here?

It’s fun to be in such an exciting research environment. I enjoy attending the many campus seminars and being surrounded by colleagues and students who are excited about learning new things.

Do you feel your work relates in any way to the Wisconsin Idea? If so, please describe how.

Yes. The way we produce and consume energy is changing rapidly. Wisconsin must adapt to these changes in a way that preserves both its environment and its economy.

Tell us something interesting about your area of expertise.

Over a third of the electricity generated in Iowa in 2016 was produced by wind turbines.

What are your hobbies and other interests?

Sailing, spending time with my dog, and watching Michigan football and basketball.