Lan Nguyen: Vital Valuation

This is part of a series of articles profiling up-and-coming female STEM graduate students on Dartmouth’s campus, in recognition of International Women’s Day on March 8th.

Measuring an immeasurable commodity is not for everyone, but Lan Nguyen is up for the challenge. In her chosen field of environmental economics, Lan strives to calculate the value of vital ecosystems that occupy our planet, such as the Chesapeake Bay and the coastal mangrove forests of SE Asia. Her work challenges us to view ecosystems as providing a vital service for all of humanity, and she encourages researchers, policymakers, land managers, and communities to incorporate environmental sustainability, social welfare, and economic development into vital long-term governance strategies.

Originally from Hanoi, Vietnam, Lan chose Dartmouth to capitalize on some wonderful opportunities available to young researchers. For much of her dissertation research, she will be traveling back-and-forth between Hanover, NH and other countries in SE Asia, including her home country of Vietnam, as she searches for sustainable development tactics for managing and maintaining healthy mangrove forests.

Throughout much of SE Asia, mangrove forests are vital for protecting communities against storm surges and coastal flooding, as well as serving as atmospheric carbon sinks and critical animal habitat, but warming air temperatures and rising sea levels threaten these ecosystems. Mangrove forests are also threatened by coastal development and commercial fishing, so environmental health must be balanced with economic demands. Therefore, to address some of the challenges of mangrove management, Lan will pull from a range of disciplines for research, including environmental studies, geography, economics, and ecology as an active member of the interdisciplinary Ecology, Evolution, Ecosystems, and Society (EEES) Graduate Program.

When not running fancy econometrics models, Lan is starting to settle into life here in the Upper Valley. She recently hiked Franconia Notch, learned how to ski at the Dartmouth SkiWay, and is known to make a delicious spring roll if you invite her to a potluck. To learn more about Lan, check out her website and blog.