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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

(2019) Faculty Leadership Academy for Interdisciplinary Research (FLAIR) Fellow. Purdue University Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships.

(2018) Nominee for the Outstanding Graduate Mentor/Teacher Award. Purdue University College of Agriculture.

(2018) Seed for Success Award. Purdue University.

(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. 30(8), 2591-2610. doi:10.1007/s11269-016-1311-0

George, H., Diane, H. L., Carolyn, P., Scott, E., Lori, M., Ma, Z., & Clarke, M. K. (2018). Forest Nursery Seedling Production in the United States—Fiscal Year 2017. USDA Forest Service, 61(2), 18-22. Retrieved from

Morey, B., Laura, R. V., & Ma, Z. (2018). Climate change adaptation pathways: Synergies, contradictions and tradeoffs across scales. World Development, 108, 231-234. doi:

Clarke, M. K., Ma, Z., Snyder, S., & Floress, K. (in press). What are family forest owners thinking and doing about invasive plants? Landscape and Urban Planning.

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:

Graham, S., Metcalf, A. L., Lubeck, A., Gill, N., Ikutegbe, V., Niemiec, R., . . . Ma, Z. (2018). Opportunities for better use of collective action theory in research and governance for invasive species management. Conservation Biology. doi:

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:

Ma, Z., Clarke, M. K., & Church, S. P. (2018). Insights into individual and cooperative invasive plant management on family forestlands. Land Use Policy, 75, 682-693.

Burnham, M., & Ma, Z. (2018). Multi-scalar pathways to smallholder adaptation. World Development, 108, 249-262.

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:

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

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