My goal is to produce empirically rigorous and theoretically informed research related to environmental policy, development, participatory governance, and inequality. I am especially interested in how citizens participate in local governance institutions, what can be done to mitigate inequalities and inequities in participation, and who reaps the benefits from community-based and market-based initiatives. 

I examine these questions primarily in the context of natural resource governance and rural development in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. My work employs a variety of approaches, but I have a particular interest in using randomized trials and quasi-experimental methods to estimate the impacts of institutional changes and governance interventions, as well as lab-in-the-field experiments designed to uncover how environmental policies and governance reforms change citizen behavior. I am also committed to working closely with local stakeholders on both the design and implementation of research. I am currently working with local organizations in India and Nepal (along with collaborators at the University of Colorado and Purdue University) on a series of randomized trials and observational studies of environmental governance interventions in those two countries.

My work appears in journals like Nature Climate Change, Nature Sustainability, and World Development, and the research projects that I have worked on have been supported by the National Science Foundation. For more information about my research, see my CV or links to my publications.

Research Lab

I have the privilege of working on research with talented students at IUPUI. Prospective students who are interested in learning more about potential opportunities to get involved with research should feel free to email me.

Current lab members

Dr. Nathan J. Cook

Assistant Professor
Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs
Tabitha Shikuku

Graduate student
Tabitha Shikuku headshot.

Lab alumni

Kamala Nair

B.Sc. 2022 IUPUI
Current positions: Graduate student at Johns Hopkins University; Government affairs at 374Water

For her capstone research, Kamala examined inequalities in participation in local development projects in rural Bangladesh. She was involved with data management and literature reviews for the lab’s research projects related to natural resource management in Nepal and locally led development in Bangladesh.

Selected research contributions:

Cook, N. J., Nair, K. S. and S. Nath. “Which individual-level factors help to explain women’s non-participation in local water resource governance?” Presented at the Midwest Political Science Association Annual Meeting (Chicago, 2022).

Nair, K. S. and N. J. Cook. “Issues of Unequal Participation in Local Development Projects: Evidence from Rural Bangladesh.” Presented at the IUPUI Undergraduate Research Conference (online, 2021).
Nicholas (Nick) Monroe

Graduate student

Nick is a Master of Public Affairs student at IUPUI, with a concentration in Policy Analysis. He is writing a thesis on climate change adaptation and environmental justice. Nick supported the lab’s various research projects related to natural resource management.