Erik Nelson

Affiliation: Economics
Associate Professor of Economics, Chair of Economics Department

I am an economist who:

  • Studies the benefits and costs of managing land to enhance or maintain ecosystem service supply;
  • Studies the benefits and costs of setting aside land for biodiversity conservation;
  • Searches for land-use patterns that meet an ecological or biological goal at least cost to society;
  • Describes the efficiency and efficacy of mechanisms designed to generate cost-effective land use patterns; and,
  • Studies the potential impacts of climate change on agriculture and how agriculture can adapt to or mitigate climate change.

This work – for example, designing policy mechanisms that maximize ecosystem service value at least cost to society or finding land use patterns that maximize species persistence but still generate a targeted amount of economic activity – often requires collaboration between ecologists, biologists, and economists.  My role on interdisciplinary research teams is to provide the appropriate economic theory and computational expertise necessary to meet the research goals.  My expertise in simulation modeling and mathematical programming has been particularly vital to these interdisciplinary projects.  Much of this work has been published in interdisciplinary journals with a wide and diverse audience. 

Curriculum Vitae


  • PhD, Applied Economics with a Concentration in Environmental Economics and a Minor in Conservation Biology, Dissertation: Essays on the Allocation of Federal Species-Specific Recovery Funds Under the US Endangered Species Act, University of Minnesota, 2007
  • MA, Public Affairs with a Concentration in Environmental Policy and Economics Development, University of Minnesota, 1998
  • BA, Philosophy and Political Science, Boston College, 1993