Research Interests

Prof. Zhang works in the field of environmental and resource economics. He is particularly interested in developing applied econometric models to answer the real-world environmental and resource policy questions. His research program has three distinctive features.

First, his research highlights the importance of incorporating micro behavior into environmental and resource management. Managing the environment is essentially managing people; ignoring behavioral adaptation can lead to unanticipated policy consequences. Second, he extensively uses innovative data and methods in empirical studies. In particular, he employs big data tools to gather unconventional and unstructured information from the Internet and satellite images. He also develops both reduced-form and structural econometric models to evaluate policy effectiveness in quasi- or non-experimental settings. Third, he adopts an interdisciplinary approach to attack the complex sustainability problem. Solving environmental problems requires knowledge from both natural and social sciences. His research endeavors to weave economic analysis into scientific and engineering models.

His research topics cover environmental pollution, climate change, and natural resources. These different topics address the common research question: how do economic agents respond to the incentives created by environmental regulations? Therefore, the methodologies developed in one topical area is often applicable in another one. Prof. Zhang is currently working on four themes of research projects: integrity of environmental data, pollution exposure and avoidance behavior, institutions and incentives for climate actions, and natural resource management with latent state variables.

Ongoing Projects

  1. National Natural Science Foundation of China #71773043, PI, 2018-2022
    "An Empirical Study of Air Pollution Cost through the Defensive Expenditure Approach"
  2. National Natural Science Foundation of China #71773062, co-PI, 2018-2022
    "Impacts of Air Pollution on Labor Market and Economy: Analysis through Coupling Econometric and CGE Models"
  3. National Natural Science Foundation of China #71771010, PI, 2017-2018
    "Analysis of the Potential Risks and Policy Responses of the United States' Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement"
  4. U.S. National Science Foundation #1600267, PI, 2016-2019
    "Coastal SEES Collaborative Research: Climate change impacts on the sustainability of key fisheries of the California Current System"

Completed Projects

  1. Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, PI, 2017
    "Application of Cost-Benefit Analysis in China's Water Pollution Law"
  2. Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning, PI, 2016-2017
    "Index System of Regional Environmental Credit in China"
  3. Policy Research Center for Environment and Economy, PI, 2016
    "Application of Cost-Benefit Analysis in China's Environmental Policy Making"
  4. The World Bank, Consultant, 2012-2016
    "China Climate Technology Needs Assessment Project"
  5. UC Center for Energy and Environmental Economics, PI, 2012-2014
    "Air Pollution and Avoidance Behavior: Information and Misinformation"
  6. U.S. National Science Foundation, Co-I, 2010-2016
    "Ecological Transitions in the California Current Ecosystem: CCE-LTER Phase II
  7. Hellman Fellowship, PI, 2011-2012
    "The Economics of Renewable Energy Development in China
  8. Resources for the Future, PI, 2011-2012
    "Carbon Market, Agglomeration Externalities and Wind Power Investment in China: A Structural Approach"
  9. U.S. National Science Foundation, Co-PI, 2009-2011
    "Maps and Locals (MALS): A Cross-Site LTER Comparative Study of Land-Cover and Land-Use Change with Spatial Analysis and Local Ecological Knowledge"
  10. U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration #T03503, PI, 2010-2012
    "The Impact of Climate Change on Fishery Production"
  11. UCSD Chancellor's Interdisciplinary Collaboration Program, Co-PI, 2008-2009
    "Coastal zone fish and fisheries in the Gulf of California