Ag economist selected for inaugural Purdue research award

May 30, 2013  

Thomas Hertel portrait

Thomas Hertel's primary research focuses on the economywide impacts of global trade and environmental policies. (Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Thomas Hertel, a Purdue University Distinguished Professor of Agricultural Economics, has been chosen to receive the inaugural Purdue University Research and Scholarship Distinction Award.

The award recognizes university faculty whose recent research or scholarship has made a major impact in their field and who are not eligible for the McCoy Award, which is limited to university research in the natural sciences. The 2013 Purdue University Research and Scholarship Distinction Award comes with a $4,000 cash award for Hertel's personal use and $7,000 for his university scholarly activities.

As the award recipient, Hertel will deliver the keynote address at the Purdue University Research and Scholarship Distinction Distinguished Lecture on Nov. 18 on the West Lafayette campus.

"It is quite fitting that Thomas Hertel be the recipient of this inaugural prestigious Purdue University research award created as a cousin to the distinguished McCoy Award," said Richard Buckius, Purdue's vice president for research. "Thomas Hertel has been a leading scholar in analyzing the dynamic environmental and economic conditions of a global economy based on land use. His scholarship has significantly impacted the field of agricultural economics and has the potential to impact future generations."

Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture, said Hertel's research is an example of the important work being done in Purdue's College of Agriculture.

"Dr. Hertel's research, which focuses on the economywide impacts of global trade and environmental policies, and his leadership of the Global Trade Analysis Project, have made a major impact on how governments and organizations around the world address complex policy questions," Akridge said. "He is most deserving of the inaugural Purdue Research and Scholarship Distinction Award."

Hertel is the founder and executive director of the Global Trade Analysis Project, a Purdue-based program that helps researchers and policymakers analyze international trade. GTAP, established in 1992, maintains data on nearly 1 million trade flows linking 130 economic regions around the world. About 10,000 people in more than 150 countries use the database.

GTAP maintains data on a range of trade-related issues, including production, consumption, import/export activity, export subsidies, economic policies and tariffs. The data can be used to evaluate such economic activity as how production and employment in one country is affected by economic growth or trade policies in any of the other regions in the database.

As an offshoot of his GTAP work, Hertel conceived and led a project to separate land use data in the GTAP database and its modeling framework. The resulting GTAP-Agro-Ecological Zone database and framework has been widely used for examination of land issues.

Hertel's own research looked at how U.S. ethanol production affects land use. The study, published in a 2010 issue of BioScience, became the basis for new regulatory standards adopted by the California Air Resources Board. Hertel and his research collaborators also used the GTAP-AEZ database to investigate how potential land-based greenhouse gas mitigation policies might contribute to reduced emissions.

Other GTAP-related research has studied the relationship between water availability for irrigated cropland and greenhouse gas emissions in biofuels crop production, and climate change and poverty.

Hertel's work in GTAP and land use led to his development of a college course, "Global Land Use in 2050: Implications for Food Security and the Environment." The course was offered during Purdue's spring 2013 semester.

Among Hertel's other honors are the Outstanding Quality of Communication Award from the American Association of Agricultural Economists, the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association's Distinguished Policy Contribution Award, and Purdue's Outstanding Researcher Award.

Hertel is past president and Distinguished Fellow of the AAEA, a member of the Advisory Board of the World Trade Organization's Program on Capacity Building, an International Research Fellow with the Kiel Institute of World Economics, and was a visiting scholar at Stanford University's Center for Food Security and the Environment.

Writer: Steve Leer, 765-494-8415,

Sources: Richard Buckius, 765-494-6209,

Jay Akridge, 765-494-8391,

Thomas Hertel, 765-494-4199,

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson,
Agriculture News Page

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