Where are you from? How did you come to work at USC?
I came to USC from Yale University where I was the Assistant Director of the multi-disciplinary Yale Climate & Energy Institute (YCEI) for two years. Before that, I studied for six years with the Department of Economics and the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. My area is environmental and natural resource economics, with a focus on energy and water issues in China.
I came to the ENST program at USC in summer 2011. Here I am teaching Environmental and Natural Resource Economics and other business and policy courses. I will also continue my research, especially on energy, water, and climate change.
Where did you earn your Bachelors, Masters, Ph.D.?
I earned my Bachelors degree in International Economics at Beijing Foreign Studies University in Beijing, China. My M.A. (Economics), M.Phil.(Environmental Studies), and Ph.D. (Environmental Studies with a specialization in Natural Resource and Environmental Economics) degrees are all from Yale University.
When did you decide to pursue a career in environmental studies and economics education?
I decided to pursue a career in environmental studies when I was taking a course on Development Economics. I was eager to learn the challenges in the process of development, especially those faced by transition economies. Because of the research interests of my professor, much of the course was devoted to environmental challenges. I was intrigued by the way economics shed light on environmental policy decisions. Many of the problems developing countries or transition economies face are indeed at the intersection of economics, environment, and energy. I then decided to take more courses on energy and environmental economics. Soon after, I decided to go to graduate school to study environmental and natural resource economics.
What classes are you teaching at USC?
In fall 2011, I am teaching two courses: ENST 387x and ENST 150.
ENST 387x provides an introduction to the economic tools and issues that affect natural resource use and environmental management.
ENST 150 explores today’s most serious environmental issues and the major social, political, economic, religious, and philosophical disagreements among scholars, leaders, and citizens.
What is it that you find special about the ENST USC program?
The Environmental Studies (ENST) program at USC is very dynamic and has a strong sense of community. It has grown tremendously in the past few years under the leadership of the Director.
The ENST community is very student-oriented and caring. The faculty and staff members share the same vision and are very dedicated. They are also very accessible both in and outside of the classroom. The Program provides the students with a small liberal arts college environment inside a large research university.
What are your long-term goals?
At USC, I want to be the best educator and researcher that I can be. As part of a team of forward-looking faculty and staff in ENST, I want to contribute to developing the program into one of the top majors in the university. I also hope to work with senior undergraduates as well as masters or PhD students on cutting-edge research projects in the field of environmental and natural resource economics. And at home, I hope to be the best wife and mom that I can be.
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and why?
I would like to go to Jerusalem or Rome. Both these places are interesting not only from an environmental perspective, but also from a cultural and historical perspective.
Do you have one piece of advice for undergraduate ENST majors and minors?
My one piece of advice for undergraduate students is to be mindful that the ideal of a university is not simply for students to grow in knowledge and obtain a degree, but to grow in wisdom and virtue and to become a better person. Take a long-term perspective whenever you can, especially when you find yourself tempted by the short-term benefits or the easy way out.
Why do you think Environmental Studies is an up-and-coming educational department?
Environmental Studies is an up-and-coming educational department because of the complexity of the environmental challenges we face today. All the members of the ENST community have a very strong commitment to creating a multi-disciplinary environment. This commitment is crucial in order to understand, appreciate, and solve environmental problems. More and more, we see students entering college eager for education that crosses traditional academic boundaries. Similarly, faculty and staff also seek intellectual exchanges with colleagues from other areas. Environmental studies is a perfect melting pot for these various disciplines.