About Kelly Heber Dunning

Me in the Florida Keys

Sea grass bed in the Florida Keys

I am Kelly Heber Dunning, a PhD Student focused on natural resource management in the MIT Science Impact Collaborative and an advisee of Professor Lawrence Susskind. A Fulbright Scholar, MIT Presidential Fellow , Policy and Environmental Governance Fellow, and Carroll Wilson Awardee, my research focuses on the ecology and socio-economic dimensions of coastal natural resources. Here is my CV. The ecosystem services of coral reefs, seagrass, and mangroves are my primary interest.

Being at MIT has allowed to me leverage a world class setting for training in the natural sciences with innovative practitioners in the realms of public policy, economics, and public dispute resolution. The theory and practice of stakeholder participation in science-intensive natural resource management policy guides my inquiry. Specifically I analyze ecosystem services and theorize natural resources as complex socio-ecological systems.  I am writing my dissertation on collaborative adaptive coral reef management institutions in Indonesian and Malaysian villages under the close supervision of an interdisciplinary committee.

I have transdisciplinary interests that include economic development potential in communities that depend on coastal resources, and innovative ways to link environmental policy and institutions to positive ecological, social, and economic outcomes. Well managed natural resources such as coral reefs, estuaries, sea grass, mangroves, and coastal wetlands deliver many socio-economic benefits to coastal communities. I am interested in public policies, environmental regulations, and collaborative governance institutions that ensure natural resources are well-managed.

My research contributes to common pool resource theory, institutional analysis, the economics of ecosystem services, theories of adaptive co-management, and collaborative adaptive natural resource management. My departmental websites can be found here and here. Check out my blog entries listed in the archives and categorized on the lower left hand side of this page, which include some of my political writing, blogs from my field sites, and informal writing on natural resource management, economics, politics, and policy.

Diving the Blue Heron Bridge

Diving the Blue Heron Bridge

I am a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute Marine Policy Center through the WHOI Guest Student Program. I am supervised by Professor Porter Hoagland where I work on an NSF Funded Coastal SEES Project on the economic valuation of ecosystem services in large urban estuaries, specifically the Hudson River. There we are using large scale biophysical models coupled with economic models to measure the impacts of port siting. I also take classes for my PhD at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

I serve as a teaching assistant for a variety of courses including Environmental Policy and Planning, Statistical Research Design, Participatory Action Research Methods, and the department’s Malaysia Practicum on sustainable development. As part of this practicum, I take a sub-group of students into the field to examine coastal resource management issues in Malaysian communities who depend on mangroves, mudflats, and nearshore fisheries for their economic well-being. Accounts of the past two years can be read here and here.

My instructor reviews as well as syllabi from the courses I help teach can be found in the Teaching Reviews section on this website. In spring of 2015 I created a new course titled Regional Ocean and Coastal Zone Management Planning Working Group in MIT’s Environmental Policy and Planning cluster. It focuses on integrated coastal zone management for a range of uses ranging from oil and gas facilities, to fisheries and aquaculture, to offshore wind. We also tackle issues of stakeholder participation, resilience, ecosystem-based management, and domestic/international oceans and coastal governance.

I am interested in models that link ecosystem science and economics. I received a scholarship in spring 2014 for training in modeling methods at Stanford University’s NatCap Program. I am also a recent winner of the EPA’s Coastal Data Challenge involving its National Aquatic Resources Survey Data for a project using econometric methods to model benthic ecosystem health to local marine economies in Florida and the Gulf. I have also been awarded a funded trip to present at the Association of European Schools of Planning’s annual Young Academics conference in Palermo 2015 to present my work on economic development as it relates to ecosystem services.

Christ Church College, Oxford

Christ Church College, Oxford just after exams!

I hold an MSc from the University of Oxford Center for the Environment, specialized in ecosystem services valuation, GIS-based spatial analysis, and community-based natural resource management. There I was offered the prestigious Clarendon Award. I wrote my masters thesis on ecological restorations, ecosystem services, and adaptive management in the Everglades. My scholarly mentors and advisors include Marta Lang and Paul Jepson.

Before that, I taught for two years with Teach for America in Washington D.C. while working on a contractual basis for DataGrid Inc. as a Natural Resource Management Specialist in land use planning in Uganda. I hold a B.A. from the University of Florida, where I graduated magna cum laude, with Phi Beta Kappa honors (Go Gators!). And way back when,  I was the valedictorian of the 2005 graduating class of A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts.

Contact me:

email: k_heber1@mit.edu

Twitter: @Kelly_Heber here

My Oxford Blog: http://twocornishchoughs.blogspot.com/

Related links:

Iain Dunning, MIT PhD candidate in applied mathematics: here

Viresh Patel, Oxford DPhil Student in Geography and Environment: here

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