Alumni Focus

Recent graduate, Steve Dundas (PhD, 2015) is creating solutions for our nations coastlines from east-to-west.

Growing up at the Jersey Shore, Steve Dundas became interested in environmental issues at an early age. With the beach just a few short miles away, he was keenly aware of how coastal water concerns affected his community.

Dundas spent summers working as a junior park ranger in Monmouth County, NJ, and said the decision to major in Natural Resource Management at the University of Delaware for his bachelor’s degree was an easy one. He applied this knowledge working in the field as an environmental scientist in NJ for a number of years before deciding to enroll in a master’s program in Agricultural and Resource Economics, also at the University of Delaware. He then continued his education in the Economics Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University.

“I hatched this crazy plan 7 years ago while working as an environmental consultant to go to graduate school and become a professor,“ explained Dundas. “Now, it’s become a reality.”

Dundas graduated NCSU’s program in August 2015 and less than a month later began working at Oregon State University as an Assistant Professor in their Applied Economics department. He also carries an affiliation with the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station and he is part of the first group of new faculty hires in support of OSU’s Marine Studies Initiative.

“It’s been a goal of mine to get a tenure-track job working in environmental economics,” remarked Dundas. “I’m only just getting started and still have a lot of work to do to become a respected scholar in this field. I hope to produce some great research along the way.”

Steve is well on his way to meeting his goals! Dundas has received a $1.3 million grant through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) as the Lead PI. Professor Laura Taylor, Director of the Center for Environmental and Resources Economic Policy (CEnREP), and a member of Steve’s dissertation committee remarked, “It is quite an accomplishment for a fresh Ph.D. in economics to land such a large award – and to do so before even officially finishing graduate school is nearly unheard of! We are delighted he is off to such a fantastic start in his new career and know he’ll be a leader conducting policy-relevant research that matters.”

Steve’s NOAA grant will be evaluating the potential benefits and optimal allocation of natural infrastructure investments along Oregon’s coastline. In many ways, the new research is a natural extension of his dissertation at NCSU, which focused on the economic issues facing coastal environments. Dundas explored topics including climate change impacts on recreational fishing, the economic impacts of off-road vehicle restrictions at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and the impacts of engineered dunes on the coastal housing market in NJ.

Dundas said his time spent working alongside CEnREP faculty and staff gave him a head start in the job market. He took advantage of many of the seminars they make available to young professionals to present their working papers to their peers and leading academics from across the country.

“CEnREP gave me a lot of opportunity to introduce my research to others through programs, such as Camp Resources and the colloquium luncheon series,” said Dundas. “It has kept me in the loop with ongoing research in the field of environmental economics. The accessibility of the faculty to talk through ideas and push research forward was very helpful.”

“I’d like to continue to produce policy-relevant economic research that can help coastal areas and the environment,” Dundas said. “I also plan on developing unique coursework that focuses on sensitive environmental issues.”

“It’s been a crazy year and I’m looking forward to getting my career started in Oregon.”