Teaching Statement

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My experiences as a student in the field of environmental and natural resource economics taught me the importance of engaging students through creative and challenging class assignments that address real world environmental problems and of developing a strong mentoring relationship with advisors. These two elements underlie my commitment to excellence in teaching and mentoring.

Creative Problem Solving

As a professional in the interdisciplinary field of natural resource and environmental economics, I believe that my role is to introduce students to economic theories and tools they can apply to environmental issues. An engaging course or unit in environmental economics should include discussion on global and national environmental policies and assignments to model and critically evaluate such policies through an economic lens.

Class should further facilitate critical thinking and creative problem solving through problem sets and papers that incorporate policy analysis, research design, and applications of economic tools to set optimal environmental policies or to evaluate their outcomes. Students will learn economic valuation techniques such as cost-benefit analysis, stated and revealed preference methods, and dynamic optimization. Each technique requires a different set of skills and tools (i.e., survey design and statistical analysis software), which could be applied to a broader set of research questions.

As both a student and teacher of undergraduate and graduate level environmental policy and economics courses, I experienced firsthand what constitutes an effective teaching strategy to engage students in active learning and creative problem solving.

As a Master’s teaching assistant for an undergraduate course in environmental economics, student participation during teaching assistant sections significantly increased after I assigned news articles on environmental policy for discussion. Specifically, I asked students how they would apply the economic tools and theory to assess and solve that environmental policy challenge. I also designed short quizzes to measure student comprehension of previously discussed materials. Based on student feedback, I restructured the sessions to focus on discussion and targeted learning of challenging material.

As a PhD student, I led discussion sections and classes on environmental policy and economics. In these courses, I utilized data visualization, relevant media, and examples from my research to engage students. For example, I successfully applied for and received a Duke Data Expeditions Grant, where I designed a learning unit based on my undergraduate thesis research. The purpose of the unit is to let students study and analyze data collected by an undergraduate to inspire their own research ideas and familiarize them with data exploration and analysis. The second half of the unit focuses on applying data analysis to policy evaluation and implementation through critical discussion of the methodology and results.

Student evaluations demonstrate that students generally enjoyed these sessions and several reached out to me to learn about how they could further pursue research in environmental economics.

I hope to bring together my experiences as a student and teacher to design and instruct engaging and informative undergraduate and graduate courses in environmental and natural resource economics and policy.

Mentorship, Diversity, & Inclusion

I became inspired to pursue environmental economics while taking an undergraduate course on the subject, which was complemented by a supportive mentoring relationship with my future advisor, who taught the course, and a successful undergraduate thesis which is now published in Marine Resource Economics. This experience taught me that my future role as a researcher and instructor in this field is to facilitate student learning through listening to and providing feedback on student concerns, research ideas, and interests and to encourage students to critically analyze environmental policies through the lens of economics.

Students and young professionals regularly reach out to me for guidance and mentorship. Through the Tulane University Women to Women Mentoring program, I advised young, women students on how to combine their passion for the environment with studies in political science and economics. Colleagues often refer friends and students to me to discuss career and research paths in environmental and natural resource economics.

An encouraging advisor who sets time aside for students is critical for students exploring relatively new and interdisciplinary fields, such as environmental economics. Leveraging my personal experience as a bilingual, multicultural Latin American woman researcher, I strive to serve as a mentor for under-represented populations, such as women in the field of economics and minority students.

In addition to my fieldwork in Latin America, I strive to collaborate with students and researchers from these countries. I hired Argentine graduate students to assist in data collection during my Master’s thesis, and provided training sessions on the data collection and methodology. I regularly meet with Argentine Ph.D. students and researchers during research visits to discuss research ideas and offer guidance for implementing environmental economic methods.

I served as an active member of Tulane University’s Women-to-Women Mentoring Program for two years and served as the Vice President of the Duke University Graduate and Professional Student Council for one year, where I listened to and advocated for students with university administration. I am also enrolled in the Duke Certificate in College Teaching program, which provides training for teaching and mentorship. I hope to apply the mentoring skills gained from these experiences towards future interactions and mentoring relationships, while maintaining a commitment to collaborate with students from a diversity of backgrounds and experiences.