Lab Team

Current Members

Adriana Castillo Castillo 

Adriana is an Applied Economics Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota. Her research interests are environmental economics and urban planning, with a focus on water and sanitation in developing countries. Before graduate school, she worked for multilateral organizations, where she worked in the design and implementation of impact evaluations in different Latin American countries. She received a B.A. in Economics from Rosario University, a Master's degree in Economics from Andes University in Colombia, and a Master's degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Minnesota (website under construction)

Haku Bo 

Haku is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota. His interests in topics that involve natural resources, environmental, energy, and agricultural economics. Specializing in natural resources and land-use, regional environmental issues, policy and social-ecological analysis, and theory of economic dynamics. He recently working on valuing ecosystem services and sustainability of grassland resources management in Mongolia. He is also working on analyzing the impacts of zoning policy on racial segregation in American urban areas. As well as the forest management at central India. Haku received his Bachelor’s degree in Economics at the University of Chuo, Japan.

Libby Kula 

Libby is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota. Her research interests include ecosystem service valuation, biodiversity conservation, and environmental justice. Her work focuses on applying ecosystem service and computable general equilibrium tools to spatial data to determine the distribution of ecosystem services in the past and into project estimates into the future. Libby earned her B.S. in Economics and Mathematics from St. Catherine University in December 2019. Prior to graduate school, she served as the first program coordinator for the Minnesota Center for Diversity in Economics. 

Michelle Heyn

Michelle Heyn is an Adjunct Faculty member at the University of Minnesota and a professional fundraiser. Her research interests are at the intersection of business and sustainability and include strategy, global competition, climate change, sustainability, strategic partnerships/alliances, dynamic capabilities, reputation, leadership and governance, and ethical choice.

She earned a Ph.D. in strategic sustainability from the department of Natural Resources Science and Management, at the College of Food Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, with a minor from the Carlson School of Management in Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship,  at the University of Minnesota. Michelle earned her MBA from the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota. She has many years experience in increasing leadership roles in nonprofit management. Michelle is an intrapreneur who co-created the NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Development, at the Institute on the Environment as a public-private partnership program. Most recently she taught an MBA course called The International Environment of Business. Michelle teaches applied learning in her classroom, teaches the students to engage with business leaders through experiential learning, and students leave with a framework they can use in their careers.

Evelyn Strombom 

Evelyn Strombom is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior (EEB). Her doctoral research focuses on the management of complex trophic systems, valuation of ecosystem services, and climate- and fishing-driven changes in Arctic marine systems. She is sitting in Oslo, Norway at the Center for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis Fall ‘19-Spring ‘20.

Evelyn received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a Minor in Latin American Studies from Swarthmore College. Before joining UMN EEB, she worked for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, the Mathematics Department of Uppsala University, and the Beijer Institute for Ecological Economics Global Economic Dynamics and the Biosphere programme. Side interests include the circular economy, model integration, collective behavior and commons problems, and operationalizing high-level sustainability policy at the local level. 

Yanxu Long

Yanxu Long is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota. His study focuses on the intersection of environment and development, including environmental pollution and sustainable development, resource allocation, and utilization efficiency.

Yanxu earned his bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Mathematics from China Agricultural University in Beijing. After graduation, he worked for two world's leading automobile manufacturers in Beijing. Before starting graduate school at UMN, he also received a certificate of the MITx MicroMasters program in Data, Economics, and Development Policy created by MIT’s Department of Economics and the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). In his free time, he likes hiking, biking, and cooking.

Nfamara K Dampha 

Dr. Nfamara K Dampha is a Lead Scientist and Program Director for the Natural Capital Project at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment. He also consults for the World Bank to support climate, nature, and ecosystem service mainstreaming in international sustainable development. 

He earned his Ph.D. in Natural Resources Sciences and Climate Change Policy and a Master's in International Development at the University of Minnesota. His research and professional work focus on the intersection of natural capital accounting, ecosystem service modeling, climate/disaster risk analysis, forced displacement, and international sustainable development. 

Dr. Dampha has over 13 years of professional, academic, and leadership experience working with the World Bank, the Government of The Gambia, the University of Minnesota, and several local and international NGOs.

Saleh Mamun

Saleh Mamun is a Postdoctoral Associate jointly appointed at the University of Minnesota and Natural Resources Research Institute. His research interest lies in the field of natural resource economics, energy economics, environmental economics, land economics, and forestry economics.

He obtained a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of New Mexico and an MBA in Finance from the Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka. He worked six years in construction, marketing and government in Bangladesh. He has experience in research on environmental issues from business, development, and engineering perspective.

Lifeng Ren

Lifeng is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota. His research interests involve using computational methods to study environmental and natural resources economics and the impact of climate changes on both global and local scales. 

Lifeng holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and Agricultural and Resource Economics from UC Davis. He received his B.S. in Mathematics and Agricultural Economics from Purdue University. 

Terin Mayer

Terin Mayer is a PhD candidate and environmental governance scholar at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, where his research focuses on the Mississippi River and Great Lakes Basins. Drawing on Economics, Political Science, and Public Administration for theory and methods, his goal is to understand how networks of institutions shape who benefits from and makes decisions about freshwater resources, and the resilience of these networks to climate disruption. From May 2017 to 2018, and 2019-2020 he was the project manager for the Climate Impact Lab’s efforts to update the social cost of carbon. He holds a Masters in Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley. Before graduate school, he worked with community-based nonprofits and labor unions in Minnesota to build organizational strength and leverage grassroots engagement into winning issue and electoral campaigns. Terin received his bachelor’s degree in Philosophy (magna cum laude) from Carleton College. He spent ten years of his childhood in Bolivia, Spain, and Chile with his sister and parents, an elementary school educator and a US Air Force officer. 

Matthew Braaksma

Matthew is a first-year PhD candidate in Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota (Twin-Cities). He is interested in applied microeconomic research with a focus on environmental economics, natural resource economics, and economic issues in Indigenous communities. Formerly, he worked as a Student Research Associate at the Center for Health Economics and Policy Studies (CHEPS) at San Diego State University. Matthew completed his MA in Economics at San Diego State University and his BA in Business Administration at Eastern Washington University. 

Ryan McWay

Ryan is currently a second year PhD student in the Applied Economics program at the University of Minnesota. He is currently a research assistant working with Chengyan Yue studying applications in neuroeconomics. Previously, Ryan held an appointment at the University of Michigan, Institute for Social Research and Population Studies Center working alongside Prof. Dean Yang. Ryan is also a graduate student member of the Minnesota Population Center, an active member of the Johnson Polasky Lab, and a member of Econ Lab Without Borders. Ryan is a student member of the American Economic Association (AEA), the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA), and the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (AERE).

Ryan’s research interests focus on applied microeconomics with specific concentrations in environmental economics, development economics, behavioral economics, and urban economics. Ryan completed his MS in International and Development Economics at the University of San Francisco (USF), and his BS in Economics and BS in International Business at Saint Louis University (SLU). Ryan is an alumni of the Development Economics @ Michigan community.

Joseph Aguilar Bohorquez

Joseph is a PhD student in the Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota. His research interests focus on applied econometrics, public policy, labor economics, the economics of education, and environmental and resource economics. He has worked as a Research Assistant at the ESPOL Polytechnic University and the University of Minnesota, where he has co-authored several articles in public policy, labor economics, environmental economics, and the economics of education. He has also served as a Teaching Assistant for Econometrics, Applied Econometrics, and Program Evaluation in both institutions.

He received a Bachelor's degree in Economics from the ESPOL Polytechnic University in 2017 and an MSc from the Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota as a Fulbright Scholar in 2021. During his undergraduate studies, he was awarded the best student of the program in 2015 and subsequently received funding from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for study visits to German universities in 2016.

Leonardo Maldonado 

Leonardo is a PhD candidate in the Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota. His main interests are development policy, energy, public policy, and the use of remote sensing data. Currently, Consultant at the Country Department Andean Group of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Formerly, he worked as a Research Fellow for the University of Minnesota and the Country Department Central America of the IDB, as well as a Consultant for a variety of think tanks, such as: the INCAE Business School in Costa Rica, the IESA’s International Center of Energy and the Environment, and the UCV’s Postdoctoral Research Center. He was also Instructor for Principles of Economics, Macroeconomics, and Microeconomics, and Teaching Assistant for Econometrics and Mathematics in Venezuela. 

Leonardo earned a B.A. in Economics from the Central University of Venezuela, a Master’s degree in Applied Economics from the Andres Bello Catholic University (Summa Cum Laude), and a Micromaster’s certificate of Data, Economics, and Development Policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on edX. He has been author, co-author, and reviewer of several studies for developing countries, mainly focused on finance, macroeconomics, trade, energy, and policy analysis.

Jacob Harris

Jacob is an Applied Economics student in the Masters of Science program at the University of Minnesota (Twin-Cities). His research interests center around sustainability, GIS, geocomputation, environmental economics, climate change, and Integrative Assessment Modeling. He earned his B.S. in Applied Economics from the University of Minnesota (Twin-Cities) in 2022 as well as a B.A. in Spanish-Portuguese Studies. During his Master’s, Jacob hopes to gain experience in computational work before applying to PhD programs related to geospatial science and sustainability.

Outside the Department of Applied Economics, Jacob works for the University of Minnesota - Office of Sustainability where he helps develop and implement the University’s 2023 Climate Action Plan. This plan establishes University targets for 2033 in order to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. 

Sumil Thakrar

Sumil Thakrar’s research broadly involves estimating the outdoor air quality-related human health impacts of different pollution sources, in order to identify promising policies that improve health and equity outcomes by targeting emissions sources across the economy. He has a particular focus on the agricultural sector, which is of wide importance in sustainability, yet relatively little attention has been paid to its impacts on human health through air quality. He is currently working on global air quality impact assessment tools. Sumil received his Undergraduate/Masters in Physics and Philosophy at the University of Oxford. Click here to visit Sumil's professional website.

Lab Alumni

Colette Salemi: Assistant Professor, Department of Economics at the University of Victoria

Ian Luby: USGS and Nature Conservancy

Lyle Anderson: Economist, Minnesota Management and Budget