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Pankaj Lal

Professor, Earth and Environmental Studies

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., Forest/Natural Resource Economics and Policy, 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 founding director of Clean Energy and Sustainability Analytics Center and professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Studies, Montclair State University. He utilizes a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods to develop place-based solutions in the diverse landscapes, including South and Southeast Asia, Africa, Caribbean and North America. He has conducted original and applied research in the areas of energy and environmental policies and economics, energy preferences and adoption, global climate change, valuing environmental services, economic and energy modeling, industrial ecology, and natural resource conservation and management. He undertakes integrative, interdisciplinary research that explores interconnections among society and the environment. His ongoing research projects involve aspects of clean energy, water, natural resources, and economies that collectively impact communities around the world.

Dr. Lal has longstanding research support and engagement in practice with multilateral institutions such as Inter-American Development Bank and World Bank, and international NGOs like World Wildlife Fund and Wildlife Conservation Society, and received more than $21 million in grants and contracts for his research, including funding from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Conservation Society, NJ Board of Public Utilities, NJ Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Rockefeller Foundation, PSEG Foundation, Orsted, German Development Agency GIZ, amongst many others.

Dr. Lal was awarded Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) by President Obama. 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. His PECASE award nomination stressed his contributions, 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 been awarded the 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. 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 the University of Delhi, MBA from Indian Institute of Forest Management, and PhD in natural resource economics from the University of Florida. Prior to his terminal degree, he worked with Winrock International India as a 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 Agricultur and served as a reviewer for The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine along with a diverse array of environmental and energy journals.

Dr. Lal has published more than eight dozen scholarly articles in peer-reviewed journals, federal research agencies technical reports and book chapters. He is thesis committee chair of nineteen doctoral students and committee member for another eight students. Dr. Lal is environmental management doctoral faculty at the University and teaches courses in environmental policy, environmental law and policy, environmental economics, human environment, life cycle analysis, water resource management, world geography, and introduction to global studies. He loves spending time with his wife Aditi and daughters Myra and Mahika.


Associate Director CESAC:
Dr. Dileep Birur

Research Associate/Fellow:
Dr. Bernabas Wolde
Dr. Prahlad Burli
Dr. Pricila Iranah
Dr. Meghann Smith
Dr. Sydney Oluoch

Student Advisee:
Bernabas Wolde, PhD Environmental Management, Thesis Title: Socioeconomic and Environmental Assessment of Woody Biofuels in Southern United States, Now Research Economist, Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.
Melissa Harclerode, PhD Environmental Management, Thesis Title: Evaluating Sustainable Aspects of Hazardous Waste Remediation, Now Principal Scientist & Sustainability Practice Leader, CDM Smith.
Pralhad Burli, PhD Environmental Management, Thesis Title: Economic and Environmental Assessment of Advanced Biofuels: Adoption Under Uncertainty, Farmer Willingness, and Land Use Implications. Now Economist at Idaho National Energy Laboratory.
Pricila Iranah, PhD Environmental Management, Thesis Title: Bridging Gaps Between Conservation Action and Policy on Small Island Developing States: Case Analog of the Republic of Mauritius, Now Postdoctoral Research Scientist, University of Nebraska.
Robert Oleksy, PhD Environmental Management, Thesis Title: Protecting Public Health, Safety and the Environment: The Capabilities and Limitations of Privatizing State Remediation Programs. Now Environmental Safety Officer, VDM Metals
Anthony Bevacqua, PhD Environmental Science and Management, Thesis Title: Spatial Economics of Clean Energy in New Jersey. Now Manager Climate Change, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
Sydney Oluoch, PhD Environmental Management, Thesis Title: Socioeconomic Assessment of Renewable Energy Options for Sub-Saharan Africa: A Continental, Regional and National Approach. Now Assistant Professor, Northern Kentucky University
Meghann Smith, PhD Environmental Science and Management, Thesis Title: Socioeconomic and Environmental Analysis of Apple Cider in Northeastern United States. Now Assistant Professor, Clean Energy and Sustainability Analytics Center, Montclair State University.
Taylor Wiezczerak, PhD Environmental Science and Management, Thesis Title: Socioeconomic Evaluation of Green Infrastructure Options in Northeastern United States. Now Economist, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
Gia Nguyen, PhD Candidate, Environmental Management, Thesis Title: Climate Change, Crop Substitution and Water Scarcity: Hydrological and Socioeconomic Analysis in Mekong Delta Region, Vietnam. Now Research Fellow, Clean Energy and Sustainability Analytics Center.
Erik Lyttek, PhD Candidate, Environmental Science and Management, Thesis Title: The Fate of Fraxinus Spp. in New Jersey A Physioeconomic Evaluation of The Forest System and Bioenergy Capabilities. Anticipated Completion Fall 2022.
Gin Dean Sanchez, PhD Candidate, Environmental Management, Thesis Title: Economic and Environmental Analysis of Solid Waste Management in Santo Domingo East, Dominican Republic.
Anvy Vu, PhD Candidate, Environmental Science and Management. Thesis Title: Assessing the Environmental and Social Impacts of Menstrual Hygiene Management:Motivations and Barriers for Sustainable Menstrual Health and Hygiene. Anticipated Completion Summer 2023.
Nicole Provost, PhD Candidate, Environmental Science and Management. Thesis Title: Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change: A Stated Preference and Macroeconomic Modeling Approach.
Gita Bhushal, PhD Candidate, Environmental Science and Management. Thesis Title: Land-Use Change Implications on Ecosystem Services and Food Security in Nepal: A Global-to-Local Framework
Anuradha Singh, PhD Candidate, Environmental Science and Management. Thesis Title: To Examine Pathways to NJ Highway Electrification: Integrating Charging Stations Locations with Grid and Battery Storage Needs Using Machine Learning.
Trang Luong, PhD Candidate, Environmental Science and Management. Carbon Emission Mitigation Prospects from Clean Energy in Tourism Industry: A Case of Popular Tourist Destinations in Vietnam.
Michael Fowler, PhD Candidate, Environmental Science and Management. Thesis Title: Environmental and Economic Assessment of Biofuels in Northeastern United States
Zainab Tariq, PhD Student, Environmental Science and Management.

Taylor Wieczerak, MA in Environmental Studies, Thesis Title: An Economic Valuation of Combined Sewer Overflows and Green Infrastructure in Northern New Jersey
Mike Fowler, MS in Sustainability Science, Thesis Title: Energy and Emission Analysis of Switchgrass based Biofuels
Gita Bhushal, MS in Sustainability Science, Thesis Title: Community Institutions and Resilience: Assessment of Flooding and Human Wildlife Conflict Outcomes in two Community Groups in Terai Region of Nepal
Mary Kenny, MS in Sustainability Science
Julia Sickler, MS in Sustainability Science
Nawal Shoaib, MS in Sustainability Science
Ashley Lynn Chrzaszcz, BS MS in Sustainability Science, Now Associate, Gabel Associates
Matthew Cristaldi, MS in Sustainability Science, Analyst, Direct Energy
Jessica Treslar, BA Geography, Now Student, Elisabeth Haub School of Law, Pace University
Warren Bristol, BA Anthropology
Witty Ingrid, BA Geography
Nicolette Filippone, BS Earth and Environmental Science
Mary Kenny, BS MS Sustainability Science
Matthew Mcnicholas, BS MS Sustainability Science
Deborah Lewis, BA Geography
Rachel Maynard, BA Geography, Now ORISE Fellow, Climate Economics and Modeling Center, USEPA
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


Energy and Environmental Economics and Policy
Climate Change
Resilient Development
Resource Management and Conservation
Life Cycle Analyses

Office Hours


2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm


2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm


Research Projects

CAREER: Exploring Place-Based Opportunities for Bioenergy Sustainability

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.

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.