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Zhao Ma

Forestry and Natural Resources 

  • Associate Professor of Natural Resource Social Science
FORS Room 111
195 Marsteller Street
West Lafayette, IN 47909-2033

Human Dimensions Lab website

Dr. Ma's research focuses on understanding how individuals and institutions make decisions with respect to natural resource management and conservation. Her current projects include a study of smallholder farmer perception of and adaptation to climate change in semi-arid and arid regions of China, an assessment of forest resilience and climate change adaptation among forest agencies in the Intermountain West, a study of institutional adaptive water management decision making in the context of rapid environmental and social changes in the Wasatch Front Metropolitan Area, an assessment of the dynamics of coupled human and large carnivore systems in the western United States, and studies of non-industrial private forest management and conservation policies in Indiana and beyond.

Awards & Honors

(2017) Faculty Policy Fellow. Purdue Policy Research Institute.

(2017) The Bravo Award. Purdue University College of Agriculture.

(2017) William L. Hoover Exemplary Faculty Service Award. Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources.

(2013) Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year for the Quinney College of Natural Resources. Utah State University.

Selected Publications

Gitau, M. W., Chen, J., & Ma, Z. (2016). Water quality indices as tools for decision making and management. Water Resources Management, 30(8), 2591-2610. doi:

Butler, B. J., Ma, Z., Kittredge, D. B., & Catanzaro, P. (2010). Social versus biophysical availability of wood in the northern United States. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry, 27(4), 151–159.

Ma, Z., Becker, D. R., & Kilgore, M. A. (2009). Assessing cumulative impacts within state environmental review frameworks in the United States. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 29(6), 390–398.

Ma, Z., Becker, D. R., & Kilgore, M. A. (2009). Characterising the landscape of state environmental review policies and procedures in the United States: a national assessment. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 52(8), 1035–1051.

Godoy, R., Reyes-García, V., Huanca, T., Leonard, W. R., Olvera, R. G., Bauchet, J. J., . . . Rios, O. Z. (2007). The role of community and individuals in the formation of social capital. Human Ecology, 35(6), 709–721.

Johnson, J. L., Zanotti, L. C., Ma, Z., Yu, D. J., Johnson, D. R., Kirkham, A., & Carothers, C. (2018). Interplays of Sustainability, Resilience, Adaptation and Transformation. In Handbook of Sustainability and Social Science Research (3-25). Berlin: Springer. doi:

Rohal, C. B., Kettenring, K. M., Sims, K., Hazelton, E. L., & Ma, Z. (2018). Surveying managers to inform a regionally relevant invasive Phragmites australis control research program. Journal of environmental management, 206, 807-816. doi:

Clarke, M. K., & Ma, Z. (2017). Invasive Plants: Impact on Environment and People. Nature of Teaching lesson plan. (FNR-535-W).

Burnham, M., & Ma, Z. (2017). Climate change adaptation: factors influencing Chinese smallholder farmers’ perceived self-efficacy and adaptation intent. Regional Environmental Change, 17(1), 171-186. doi:

Ma, Z., Bauchet, J. J., Steele, D., Godoy, R., Radel, C., & Zanotti, L. C. (2017). Comparison of direct transfers for human capital development and environmental conservation. World Development, 99, 498-517. doi:

Forestry and Natural Resources, 715 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2061 USA, (765) 494-3590

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