Ag alumnus to serve on EPA Board of Scientific Counselors

CSU alumnus Robert Richardson

Colorado State University faculty members have a long history of advising government agencies and serving on boards, committees, and panels that provide guidance on the impacts of government policies. Because faculty members instill in their graduate students the importance of being public intellectuals and guiding policy decisions, it seems only natural that CSU alumnus Robert Richardson, who graduated with his Ph.D. in agricultural and resource economics in 2002, would be asked to serve on the Board of Scientific Counselors of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Richardson, now an associate professor in the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University, is an ecological economist who studies the contribution of ecosystem services to socioeconomic well-being. His research, teaching, and outreach program focus primarily on sustainable development, and he uses a variety of methods from the behavioral and social sciences to study decision-making about the use of natural resources and the values of ecosystem services. He will serve as chair of the Sustainable and Healthy Communities subcommittee as part of his EPA appointment.

“My experience as a doctoral student at CSU helped me to understand how applied economics can inform—and be informed by—knowledge from other disciplines, and it has been the motivation for my 15-year career in interdisciplinary research and scholarship,” said Richardson. “Exposure to this breadth of integrated knowledge has been invaluable in my role on this EPA advisory board.”

Multidisciplinary research

While at CSU, Richardson took part in a multidisciplinary project that involved researchers from the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and the Warner College of Natural Resources, as well as environmental economists in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

A prolific author, Richardson’s work has been published in the journals Ecological Economics, Environment and Development Economics, and World Development. He also edited the book Building a Green Economy: Perspectives from Ecological Economics, which was published in 2013.

While at CSU, Richardson studied under John Loomis, a professor of agricultural and resource economics, who has produced fundamental work in the area of economic valuation of non-marketed natural resources and the use of such values by government agencies.

Star ecological economist

“Dr. Robert Richardson was one of the most prolific Ph.D. students I ever had in terms of writing journal articles from his dissertation,” said Loomis. “I realized at that time, he was going to be a star ecological economist.”

“Dr. Loomis’s commitment to research that serves the public interest has been a major influence on my scholarship, which aims to advance knowledge about global challenges,” said Richardson. “It is a privilege to serve in an advisory capacity for the EPA, and my inspiration is due in large part to my experience as a doctoral student at CSU.”

Richardson’s EPA appointment will continue to 2020.

About the EPA Board of Scientific Counselors

The Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) is a federal advisory committee that provides advice and recommendations to EPA’s Office of Research and Development on technical and management issues of its research programs. For more information, visit the BOSC website.