Welcome to the Human Dimensions Lab!

The Human Dimensions Lab in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University is led by Dr. Zhao Ma. Collectively, our Human Dimensions Lab members focus on one overarching research question: How do individuals and organizations make natural resource decisions in the context of social-ecological change?

We consider natural resource decisions broadly to include management, utilization, conservation, preservation, as well as no action. We examine natural resource decision making processes at multiple scales in multiple contexts, with a particular focus on how individuals and organizations make natural resource decisions in response to various ecological, climatic, social, economic, political, and cultural changes and how various natural resource decisions subsequently impact individuals, households, communities, organizations, and landscapes.

Our lab works on a variety of natural resource topics, and more recently we have focused on invasive plant management, small-scale farming, payment for ecosystem services, climate change perception and adaptation, water governance, and ecological restoration.

Our lab relies on both quantitative and qualitative research methods, including conducting surveys, focus groups, and interviews, conducting document analysis and policy inventory, and using econometric and agent-based models to understand individual and organizational decision making processes.