Joe Herriges, professor of economics, AFRE and ESPP, is looking forward to the many opportunities Michigan State University has to offer, both in water resource research and in the broader areas of environmental and energy economics.
The new faculty member spent 26 years as an environmental economics professor at Iowa State University, focusing much of his recent research on assessing the value that individuals place in environmental amenities, such as clean water or public parks.
“Understanding these values can be important to policymakers tasked with managing and preserving the environment, particularly in times of limited resources. Our research on Iowa’s lake and river systems played a major role in expanding the state’s investment in preserving and enhancing Iowa’s water resources.”
As part of MSU’s Global Water Initiative, Dr. Herriges hopes to continue his work in this area and to diversify his research into other water issues. He was also attracted to the interdisciplinary work going on at MSU that tailors nicely with the work he did at ISU.
Beyond water research, MSU also provides Dr. Herriges with the opportunity to return to his roots. Not his biological roots – although born in Detroit, he travelled around so much as a child that he calls himself “from the Midwest” – but his early research roots.
When he was in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin Madison and after his doctoral graduation in 1983, he worked in energy policy. MSU provides opportunities for return to some of his original interests in energy issues.
“MSU has a very good economics department and university as a whole,” he said. “I am looking forward to working with the talented environmental economists in both Economics and AFRE.”
The high caliber of the econometrics group at MSU was also a selling point to him.
“Overall, it is just a very strong department,” he said.
In 1988, a young Joe Herriges showed up at Iowa State University unsure of the direction of his profession.
“At that time they wanted me to teach environmental economics and I had never had a course in the area,” he said.
But over nearly three decades, Dr. Herriges made a name for himself in the intersection of environmental economics and econometrics – a combination of his two loves of statistics and economics. His specific area of expertise is in non-market valuation.
“Most goods are bought and sold so that we have an idea of what their value is, but we don’t have that feature with environmental amenities. We have to find those indicators through other means. That brings in econometrics. For instance, I work with recreation demand models that infer the value that individuals place in water quality through the time and effort we put into getting to places. For instance if I travel to northern Michigan to a lake of higher water quality rather than go to a local lake with lower quality, the increased travel cost I incur provides one indication of the value I place in higher water quality,” he said.
“The same idea applies to the housing market: there is often an additional cost to buying a house located next to an environmental amenity.”
Dr. Herriges has also made a significant mark on the environmental economics profession. This summer, the Association of Environmental and Resource Economics (AERE) met in Istanbul and named Dr. Herriges as one of two Fellows. This prestigious honor puts him among only 34 other Fellows who have been honored for the contributions to the field.
“I was very pleased to be selected,” he said. “It is nice to be acknowledged by peers as having make a significant contribution to the filed.”
As a member of AERE, Dr. Herriges has served as the Managing Editor for the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management and helped start the new Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists. He has also organized the national meeting of AERE in the United States.
When not in the classroom or office, Dr. Herriges can be found behind the camera or in his woodworking studio creating cedar chests or other furniture. The avid fan of macrophotography has an image of a bee hovering over a flower on his computer desktop.
“What I like about both these hobbies is that they don’t involve any reading. I do a lot of that as a professor.”
Dr. Herriges and his wife, Mary, now live in Okemos. They have three grown sons and are expecting their first grandchild this fall.