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Eric LonsdorfAssistant Professor


  • BA. Biology Carleton College, 1996
  • Ph.D. Ecology and Evolution, University of Minnesota, 2004


The goal of my applied research is to enable a more sustainable society by helping to incorporate the value nature provides to human well-being, also known as ecosystem services, into land management decisions and policy. To achieve this goal, I focus my work on three interrelated topics: 1) developing the ecosystem science necessary to reveal nature’s contributions to people, 2) working to understand how people value those contributions economically and intrinsically, and 3) integrating the value of nature’s contributions into decision-making.

I apply this work to agricultural and urban systems. In agricultural systems, I study the impact of crop management on ecosystem services and how to design policies and incentive programs that increase the adoption of sustainable or regenerative practices without negatively impacting food production or a farmer’s livelihood and profits. In urban systems, I study how to integrate the benefits of greenspace and green infrastructure into urban planning to create more equitable, just, and livable cities.

My research in each of these contexts focuses on the challenge presented by the geographic mosaics created through the interacting scales of environmental processes with administrative decision-making. In other words, how can we get individuals, who make decisions at relatively small scales, to collectively address broader-scale environmental challenges?

I am also a Senior Fellow at the Natural Capital Project, and Global Affiliate of the Gund Institute for Environment at the University of Vermont. Prior to working at Emory University, I was Program Director for the Natural Capital Partnership at University of Minnesota. I previously worked in the Conservation and Science Department at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Illinois and in the Conservation Science Department for the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, IL. I graduated with a B.A. in Biology from Carleton College in Northfield, MN and earned my Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior from the University of Minnesota. In my spare time, I enjoy eliciting eyerolls from my wife, daughter, and son through the creation of bad puns.