Justin Andrew Johnson is a Senior Scientist and Economist with The Natural Capital Project at The Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota.  Justin graduated with a PhD in Applied Economics from the University of Minnesota in 2014. Justin’s research explores several questions including:

  • How can we produce 100% more food while minimizing the loss of ecosystem services? (Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences as Global Agriculture and Carbon Trade-Offs)
  • How does the spatial configuration of a landscape affect how economic agents choose between ecosystem services and market goods?
  • When and where do commodity certification standards (such as Bonsucro) change equilibrium outcomes for improved environmental quality?
  • How can we modify traditional economic models of rational utility maximization to account for reciprocal behavior (and how can these models be applied to understand better human interaction in environmental commons dilemmas)?

Justin extends these research questions by developing models that estimate the value of ecosystem services to human wellbeing, such as for non-timber forest products, biodiversity (using the UNEP’s GLOBIO model) and others. Justin also develops software applications in Python, C, C# and Unity3d to implement these ecosystem service models in a way that is useful (and user-friendly) for policy and decision makers (for example, see Mapping Ecosystem Services to Human Wellbeing, MESH.

In addition to ecosystem services, Justin researches food security, climate change and agricultural management in developing countries, along with more traditional topics in economics such as dynamic general equilibrium modeling of economic growth. Justin’s work has led him to research areas including China, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Brazil. Prior to pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, he received his B.A. in Economics and Environmental Studies at St. Olaf College and studied Environmental Science at Tsinghua University, Beijing, on a Fulbright Scholarship.

In his spare time, Justin is an avid mountain biker, rock climber and board game designer.