CTDS Fellow wins Seed Grant

Dr. Anthony Howell, CTDS Fellow and an assistant professor in public policy and management in the School of Public Affairs at Arizona State University has won the Mayo Clinic and ASU’s Seed Grant. The program's goal is to fund multidisciplinary and translational cooperative research initiatives between the Mayo Clinic and ASU. Below are the title and abstract of the research that won Dr. Howell the award.

Title: What happens when a massive payment for ecosystem services program ends? Machine Learning, Causal Inference and Implications for Coupled Human-Environment Systems Science

Abstract: The ASU Seed project is part of a larger grant proposal that will introduce a novel conceptual framework capable of deriving new theoretical predictions related to how Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) programs, including post-cessation, potentially influences coupled human-environment systems (CHES) and the broader implications for sustainability. The PES-CHES framework will adopt an integrated systems approach informed by CHES science to link PES cessation, adaptation and vulnerability. To empirically test PES-CHES theoretical predictions, the PI will introduce a new causal spatial data science (CSDS) analytical framework applied to US and China contexts that combines machine learning, remote sensing and causal inference. CSDS will be relied on to derive geospatial sustainability indicators – both environmental and socio-economic outcomes (forest cover, cropland, pollution, poverty) – that could be affected by PES (cessation) and employ counterfactual-based impact evaluations to holistically evaluate both: (i) the longer-term sustainability benefits of PES; and (ii) the unintended, adverse effects that may arise following PES cessation.