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SSU Professor Merlin Hanauaer wins Cozzarelli Prize

Monday, September 17th, 2012 | Posted by

Sonoma State University Assistant Professor of Economics, Merlin Hanauer and co-authors have been awarded the prestigious Cozzarelli Prize, which “acknowledges papers that reflect scientific excellence and originality.” The annual award is presented by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The article was one of six chosen for the award out of 3,500 articles that were published last year.

Merlin and his co-authors demonstrated in their article, “Conditions Associated With Protected Area Success in Conservation and Poverty Reduction,”  how regions in Costa Rica and Thailand that have been closed off to protect the environment have affected poverty and deforestation. The authors were expressly concerned about poverty traps that can result from closing off an area that has provided resources and land to a historically poor community.

Their results were surprising.  “Some of the poorest communities at baseline have actually had the most positive response to the establishment of protected areas,” explained Merlin, who is now in his second year at SSU.

He also noted that the paper was “accessible and policy relevant, meaning people from a broad array of scientific backgrounds could read and pickup salient points.” One of the primary goals of this research was to introduce a framework for studying protected areas that can be implemented worldwide.  His research in other areas has taken him across the world to places like Bolivia and Italy to help highlight the impacts of conservation policy.

Growing up in a small logging community on the Salmon River, Hanauer chose to study environmental economics as a way to help actively change the world. He received the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies Excellence in Teaching Economics award and the Theodore C Boyden Excellence in Teaching Economics award while teaching as a graduate student at Georgia State University.

“Economics gave me the opportunity to speak in ways people would respond to. I saw this as a way to achieve goals and get people to listen.”  And that includes students.

For SSU junior Brittany Navarre, Merlin “was the best economics teacher” she ever had. He made hard concepts easy to understand and used real life examples that were both “interesting and relatable.”

To learn more, tune into PNAS’ podcast conversation with Hanauer by clicking here.






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