Associate Professor, Earth and Environmental Studies
Ph.D., Natural/Forest Resource Economics, 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, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Studies and associate director PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies, Montclair State University. He undertakes integrative, interdisciplinary research that explores interconnections among society and the environment. As Associate Director, he is in charge of grants, funding and research. He integrates research activities of faculty into a broader and more meaningful framework with multiple outcomes. Along with his research team, he has been working in the United States, Caribbean islands, Africa and South Asia focusing on environmental economics and economic geography, human dimensions of ecosystem management, natural resource conservation and policy, and climate change. His ongoing research projects involve aspects of renewable energy, water, natural resources, and economies that collectively impact communities around the world. He has received nearly $11 million in grants and contracts for his research as PI or co-PI, including funding from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Conservation Society, NJ Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and others. Recently he has been awarded Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The PECASE Award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers. This Presidential Award embodies the high priority placed by the government on maintaining the leadership position of the United States in science by producing outstanding scientists and engineers and nurturing their continued development. The Awards identify a cadre of outstanding scientists and engineers who will broadly advance science and the missions important to the participating federal agencies. He is the first Montclair State University faculty recipient of the PECASE award. Lal’s PECASE award nomination by U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture stressed the contributions Lal is making to develop new biofuel pathways, saying that, “Besides fostering innovative developments in science and technology, Dr. Lal’s efforts and commitment enhance connections between fundamental research and the grand challenges facing the nation, and highlight the importance of interdisciplinary and systems-approached science, engineering, and technology for America’s future.”
Dr. Lal has also been awarded prestigious NSF CAREER Award to explored place based opportunities for bioenergy sustainability. He was Advisory Board member for Rockefeller Foundation’s initiative on “Valuing the Resilience Dividend”, that was undertaken by RAND Corporation and the Global Infrastructure Basel Foundation. He was economic analysis lead in NJ Governor’s Office of Recovery and Rebuilding grant whereby ecosystem inventory for natural resources was developed and ecosystem tradeoffs due to potential engineering design solutions for flood mitigation across the state was evaluated. Recently, Dr. Lal conducted rapid economic impact analysis of regional summer flounder restrictions, which was successfully used by NJ DEP in their request to reconsider Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Summer Flounder Management Board's harvest restrictions. He is also primary author of a research report titled "Economic Values of Nyungwe National Park & Rugezi Wetlands and their contributions towards national policy goals in Rwanda", that was supported by MacArthur Foundation and Wildlife Conservation Society.
Dr. Lal earned his Master’s degree in geography from University of Delhi, MBA from Indian Institute of Forest Management and PhD in resource economics from University of Florida. Prior to his terminal degree, he worked with Winrock International India as program officer in natural resource management division and Pricewaterhouse Coopers India in the government reforms and infrastructure development practice. He has reviewed competitive grant proposals for agencies like National Science Foundation, United States Department of Agriculture, Sea Grant Consortium, and serves as manuscript reviewer for diverse array of environmental journals. He has published more than three dozen scholarly articles in peer-reviewed journals, federal research agencies technical reports and book chapters. He is thesis committee chair of nine graduate students and committee member for another five students. Dr. Lal is undergraduate geography program advisor and environmental management doctoral faculty at the University and teaches courses in environmental economics, environmental law and policy, water resource management, world geography, and introduction to global studies.
ADVISEES & LAB MEMBERS
Dr. Bernabas Wolde
Bernabas Wolde, PhD, Environmental Management, Now Postdoctoral Research Scientist
Melissa Harclerode, PhD, Environmental Management, Now Sustainability Scientist, CDM Smith
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
Sydney Oluoch, PhD Candidate, Environmental Management
Taylor Wiezczerak,PhD Student, Environmental Management
Erik Lyttek, PhD Student, Environmental Management
Gia, Nguyen, PhD Student, Environmental Management
Meghann Miller Smith, PhD Student, Environmental Management
Taylor Wieczerak, MA in Environmental Studies, PhD student Environmental Management
Mike Fowler, MS in Sustainability Science
Gita Bhushal, MS in Sustainability Science
Ashley Lynn Chrzaszcz, BS MS in Sustainability Science
Matthew Cristaldi, MS in Sustainability Science
Jessica Teslar, BA Geography
Warren Bristol, BA Geography
Witty Ingrid, BA Geography
Mary Kenny, BS MS Sustainability Science
Matthew Mcnicholas, BS MS Sustainability Science
Deborah Lewis, BA Geography
Rachel Maynard, BA Geography, Now Graduate Student & Research Assistant at McGill University
Carlos A Sanchez, Faculty UTE Ecuador and PhD student University of Zaragoza Spain (Visiting Scholar)
Katherin Mendoza, Summer Intern from Union City High School
Gilda Lovera, Summer Intern from Union City High School
Catherine Chuya, Summer Intern from Union City High School
Laura Leon, Summer Intern from Union City High School
Environmental Economics and Policy
Economic Modeling and Impact Analysis
Resource Management and Conservation
This NSF Faculty Early-CAREER Development (CAREER) award will support research that will contribute new knowledge regarding how geospatial suitability, socioeconomic uncertainty, and life-cycle analysis-based environmental impacts can be used to develop place-based policy solutions for forest and agricultural bioenergy development in the midwestern and southern United States. The investigator will study the interactions among climate, soil, topography, bioenergy production conditions, stakeholder participation, and socioeconomic uncertainty to assess their impacts on the sustainability and development of bioenergy markets. The project will provide new perspectives for U.S. energy by assessing the sustainable production of forest and crop-based biomass dedicated to bioenergy production. Project results will enhance public awareness of bioenergy and will provide educational and outreach material about renewable energy resources and their conservation for elementary and middle school students. The educational agenda of this project will strengthen the talent pool in science, technology engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines through mentorship of undergraduate and graduate students, course development, research, and participation in K-12, public outreach, and environmental education programs.
The insights obtained from this innovative project will be adaptable to other bioenergy feedstocks and regions and will contribute towards development of longer-term strategies that benefit the agricultural sector and support rural economies and within the U.S. and globally.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.