Pankaj Lal

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Assistant Professor, Earth and Environmental Studies

CEL 426
973 655-3137
Not Available
B.A.:University of Delhi
M.A.:Delhi School of Economics
M.B.A.:Indian Institute of Forest Management
Ph.D.:University of Florida
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Ph.D., Natural/Forest Resource Conservation, 2011
Food and Resource Economics (minor), University of Florida, Gainesville FL

M.B.A., Forestry Management, 2004
Indian Institute of Forest Management, India

M.A., Geography, 2001
Delhi School of Economics, India

B.A.(H), Economics, 1999
Delhi University, India

Pankaj Lal has professional experience in environmental issues in South Asia, United States, and Africa. He is credited for more than two dozen research publications in peer reviewed journals, United States Department of Agriculture technical reports, book chapters, and research reports. During his professional sojourn, he has secured research grants from multilateral and bilateral agencies, government, foundations, NGOs and the private sector. He joins MSU after serving as Visiting Scholar at Virgnia Tech. Prior to his terminal degree, he worked with Pricewaterhouse Coopers India in the Government Reforms and Infrastructure Development Practice and Winrock International India as Program Officer in the Natural Resource Management Division.

Bernabas Wolde, PhD Candidate, Environmental Management
Melissa Harclerode, PhD Candidate, Environmental Management
Gin Dean Sanchez, PhD Candidate, Environmental Management
Pricila Iranah, PhD Candidate, Environmental Management
Robert Oleksy, PhD Candidate, Environmental Management
Pralhad Burli, PhD Candidate, Environmental Management
Taylor Wieczerak, MA in Environmental Studies
Rachel Maynard, BA Geography, Now Graduate Student & Research Assistant at McGill University
Matthew Mcnicholas, Sustainability Science
Carlos A Sanchez, Faculty UTE Ecuador and PhD student University of Zaragoza Spain (Visting Scholar)
Catherine Chuya, Summer Intern from Union City High School
Laura Leon, Summer Intern from Union City High School


Environmental Economics and Policy
Energy Geography
Climate Change
Economic Modeling and Impact Analysis
Resource Management and Conservation


Office Hours


  • Monday 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
  • Tuesday 2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
  • Thursday 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm


  • Monday 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
  • Tuesday 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
  • Thursday 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm


Research Projects

Assessing socioeconomic impacts of forest biomass based biofuel development on rural communities in the Southern United States

In this three year project led by Dr. Lal, stakeholder surveys will be conducted in thirteen Southern States in U.S. to assess perceived socioeconomic acceptability of woody biofuels. Direct, indirect, and induced impacts of woody biofuel expansion on stakeholders will be estimated through Input Output Analysis and Social Accounting Matrix approach. Region wide distributional impact will be assessed through computable general equilibrium model. This project is funded by United States Department of Agriculture. Other institutions working on this project are Texas A&M ,Virginia Tech, and Tuskegee University.

Measuring the Economic Value of Natural Capital in Rwanda

Natural capital is defined as assets that provide natural resource inputs and environmental services for economic production. Nations rely on natural capital for their economic growth, typically measured as gross domestic product (GDP). Traditionally, GDP does not explicitly and fully account for the non-marketed goods and services provided by natural capital. As such it is conceivable to realize an increase in GDP in spite of a significant depletion in a nation’s natural capital. Many groups, including United Nations, NGOs, research institutions, the World Bank and governments are calling for a new system of natural capital accounting that will standardize methodology to measure the value of healthy habitats to a country’s true wealth. This work focuses on helping Rwanda, one of the World Bank’s core implementing countries for natural capital accounting, determine the value of non-market services in two priority landscapes – the Rugezi wetland and Nyungwe National Park. The results of this work will directly support Rwanda’s development planning process, as well as underpin the central role of natural capital in economic output. Beyond Rwanda, the results will give impetus to efforts by global initiatives, such as the UN’s Green Economy, and provide a pathway for other governments committed to including natural capital accounting in their goals for, and measures of, economic growth.

Assessment of Economic, Ecological, and Social Capital in Congruence with Design Studies for Reducing Storm Surge and Flooding Risks to New Jersey Coastal Communities

Dr. Lal along with researchers from New Jersey Institute of Technology is assisting New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Department in developing post-Hurricane Sandy actions that address resilience and mitigation efforts statewide. The research team is evaluating the role of Nature Based Infrastructure (selection of “green infrastructure”) as a priori desirable technologies in the overall plan for flood mitigation in each study area, Barnegat Bay, Hudson River, Hoboken-Jersey City, and Hackensack, Moonachie-Little Ferry. The Environmental Constraints Analysis for each project alternative including potential “cumulative” impacts of all elements of proposed construction. Dr. Lal is using current risk assessment methodologies to determine the likelihood and magnitude of environmental effects based on natural resource vulnerabilities He is also identifying the consequences of not taking appropriate management action to avoid the effects in terms of ecological, social, cultural, and economic impacts as well as institutional policy and governance repercussions. He is also evaluating the cost-benefit ratios of the various proposed project alternatives for each of the three targeted areas; and the likely areas of stakeholder tensions and conflict. The effort is focused on identifying best practices to promote Coastal Resilient Communities while balancing risks to vulnerable population and ecosystem health.

U.S-India Consortium for Development of Advanced Biofuel Systems

In this five year $6.25 million project funded by Department of Energy, MSU is entrusted with the task of conducting economic and environmental analysis of advanced biofuel markets in US.Discrete choice methods will be used to estimate willingness to pay/accept for advanced biofuels, conduct life cycle analyses, and develop financial and economic models to assess policy designs and sustainability tradeoffs in context of long-term market growth of advanced biofuels. Other US institutions involved in the project are University of Florida; University of Missouri; Texas A&M; Show Me Energy; and Green Technologies.

Economic and Environmental Analysis of Solid Waste Management in the Dominican Republic

The management of municipal solid waste continues to be an important environmental challenge facing the Dominican Republic. This study aims to assess public perception and community participation in municipal solid waste management actions so that they do not rely on landfilling as the only solid waste disposal method, but instead, reinforce source reduction and recovery processes. To determine which strategy will be most suitable to reducing the environmental burden of waste management practices, this study will conduct a comparative life cycle analysis contrasting the current managerial practice (landfilling) versus the alternative approach of recycling plastics, glass and metals for creating new products before being landfilled. Since the implementation improved waste management strategy involves economic costs, household willingness to pay analysis was conducted through a choice experiment. The result from lifecycle analyses will be used to estimate green house gas reduction potential based on loss rates yield estimates for metric tons of carbon equivalent. Imputing the dollar value for emission savings in term of Certified Emission Reduction payments under the Clean Development Mechanism can be used to lower social cost of implementing a recycling program.

Evaluating Sustainable Aspects of Hazardous Waste Remediation

This research addresses two knowledge gaps that currently exist among sustainability assessments being conducted throughout a contaminated site’s life cycle. In addition, this study also presents methodologies to address these gaps. The first knowledge gap identifies the lack of sustainable remediation publications and assessment tools which evaluate the sustainable aspects of the variety of techniques and technologies implemented during site characterization. This knowledge gap will be addressed by conducting a life cycle assessment to evaluate environmental impacts accrued during characterization of a hazardous waste site. The second knowledge gap identifies the lack of sustainable remediation publications and assessment tools available to evaluate socio-economic impacts from characterization and impact perceived by stakeholders, including the community, regulators and potential responsible parties.