Welcome to Zhao Ma’s Human and Policy Dimensions Lab at Purdue University!

Zhao Ma

Zhao Ma


As a natural resource social scientist, the overarching goal of my research program is to create knowledge that improves individual and organizational capacity to make sustainable resource management decisions and adapt to environmental change at various scales. Specifically, I examine decision making processes focusing on two types of actors, individuals and organizations. I ask questions about (1) how individuals and organizations perceive environmental change and natural resource problems at various scales, (2) how individuals and organizations respond to environmental change and address natural resource problems, and (3) how various ecological, social, economic, political, and cultural factors influence decision making by individuals or within organizations. In addition, I ask questions about what information, assistance, and incentives may contribute to adaptive and sustainable resource management decisions by individuals, and how individual attitudes and behaviors across the landscape and over time cumulatively affect adaptive and sustainable resource management decisions by organizations.

My research relies on both quantitative and qualitative research methods, including conducting surveys, focus groups, and interviews, conducting document analysis and policy inventory, and using econometric models to understand individual decision making processes.

I am generally interested in topics within forest ecosystems and farming systems. However, I have work with livestock producers in the past and am willing to explore research opportunities in other coupled natural-human systems.



I currently teach two undergraduate courses:

FNR 37500 Human Dimensions of Natural Resource Management

POL 22300 / FNR 22310 Introduction to Environmental Policy