New faculty profile: Jennifer Raynor studies the economic dimensions of fish and wildlife management

Jennifer Raynor joined the UW–Madison faculty in August 2022 as an assistant professor in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology.

What is your hometown? Where did you grow up? 
I grew up in upstate New York.

What is your educational/professional background, including your previous position? 
My educational background includes a BA in economics from LeMoyne College; MA in applied economics from Johns Hopkins University; MS in environment and resources from UW–Madison in 2016; and PhD in agricultural and applied economics from UW–Madison in 2017. I’ve held previous positions as assistant professor of economics at Wesleyan University, 2019-2022, and research economist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2017-2019.

How did you get into your field of research?
My research focuses on the economic dimensions of fish and wildlife management. Around 2010, I came across an article about the rapid decline of bluefin tuna around the world. The article discussed some economic policies that were designed to help the species recover. A lightbulb turned on for me, and I began to realize that economic incentives are both the cause of – and solution to – environmental problems. I registered for a non-credit masters course in environmental and natural resource economics to learn more about these ideas, and I have never looked back.

What are the main goals of your current research and outreach programs?
My goal is to build a research portfolio that both advances the academic literature and informs timely, on-the-ground decision-making among natural resource managers. 

What attracted you to UW–Madison?
My work is very inter-disciplinary, combining fields like wildlife ecology, remote sensing/GIS, and limnology with economics. This kind of work is encouraged and rewarded in my department and the campus more broadly, and research synergies across the campus are outstanding. I am thrilled to be surrounded by such high caliber colleagues doing such exciting work. 

What was your first visit to campus like?
Since I did my MS and PhD at UW–Madison, my first time back [for the faculty position] was like coming home. 

What’s one thing you hope students who take a class with you will come away with?
I’m excited for the opportunity to show students that economics isn’t just the source of many environmental problems — it is also the solution!

Do you share your expertise and experiences with the public through social media? If so, which channels do you use?
The public can learn more about my work at or on Twitter @JenniferRaynor_.

Do you feel your work relates in any way to the Wisconsin Idea? If so, please describe how.
I am passionate about doing work that affects real-world decision-making. To that end, I have worked closely with natural resource managers at both the state and federal level to design and evaluate policies that benefit people and the broader natural world. It is amazing to be in an institution that values these kinds of collaborations.

What’s something interesting about your area of expertise you can share that will make us sound smarter at parties?
Wolves generate millions of dollars of economic value in Wisconsin every year by reducing vehicle collisions with deer.

What are your hobbies and other interests?
I enjoy backpacking, paddling, sailing and snowboarding.