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 three projects.  The first is in Rwanda exploring different incentives that will prevent coffee farmers from having antestia in their coffee and to increase their productivity. The second project is in Brazil, and it aims to to find ways to ensure positive environmental and socio-economic outcomes in hydropower development. The third project in Flint, Michigan, intends to structure the food system by reducing inefficiencies and supporting cooperation among stakeholders to ensure healthy and affordable access to food.


Area of interests:

  • Resource Governance
  • Institutions
  • Experimental Economics
  • Mixed Methods Approach
  • Sustainability
  • Developing Countries
  • International Development.


Maria Claudia Lopez's CV
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