About me

I am an assistant professor in the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University. I am an economist, specializing in natural resources and environmental economics with a master's in Rural Development from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Colombia. Then I completed a PhD in Resource Economics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Following that I completed a two year postdoctoral fellowship with Elinor Ostrom on issues of governance, common property, and institutional analysis at the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis (now called Ostrom Workshop) at Indiana University.


My research uses multiple methods including field experiments from behavioral economics, institutional analysis, econometrics, ethnography, and participatory research to understand how rural communities can collaborate successfully in the management of commonly held natural resources. I am firmly committed to participating in projects that have both theoretical significance and practical benefits for the communities I work with. I have conducted experiments in behavioral economics in Colombia, Spain, Peru, Bolivia, Indonesia, Tanzania and Uganda. I am also developing research using institutional analysis tools in other countries such as Costa Rica and Colombia.


I am currently working on two projects.  The first is in Rwanda exploring different incentives that will prevent coffee farmers from having antestia in their coffee plantations. The second project is in Brazil studying the environmental, socio-economic, and behavioral effects of hydroelectric dams on local communities of the Amazon.


Area of interests:


  • Experimental and Behavioral Economics
  • Institutional Analysis
  • Environmental Economics and Resource Economics (externalities, public goods, common pool resources)
  • Management of Environmental Resources.


Maria Claudia Lopez's CV
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