Rachael Garrett

Assistant Professor

Educational Background

PhD, Environment & Resources, Stanford University, 2013
MPA, Environmental Science & Policy, Columbia University, 2006
BA, History and Environmental Analysis & Policy, Boston University, 2003, magna cum laude

Current Research

Environmental and social dimensions of agricultural behavior
Food and timber supply chain governance
Rural development and resilience
Land use and land cover modeling

Current Projects

Drivers and impacts of environmental governance in global food chains

This work links international trade and supply chain models to land use, economic, and institutional data at the subnational level to asses the impacts of voluntary and mandatory environmental governance interventions on farming practices and ecosystems. In particular, I focus on issues of additionality and leakage in soy, oil palm, and beef cattle supply chains. These outcomes are rarely addressed in assessments of governance mechanisms due to data and modelling gaps. I also examine how supply chain characteristics, e.g. concentration, power, brand identity, and product visibility, influence the types of voluntary environmental programs adopted by firms.

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Interactions between urbanization, agricultural expansion, and rural well-being

Using surveys, census, and remote sensing data I examine the conditions under which agricultural expansion leads to a positive feedback loop between agribusiness development, area expansion, and intensification in South America. I have shown that these forces can lead to the creation of agglomeration economies and agro-cities in previously isolated rural regions. I also analyze the impact of agglomeration processes on the adoption of agricultural technologies, off-farm job-opportunities, and rural access to health and education services.

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Links between assets, livelihoods, and well-being in forest regions

Despite a growing literature on sustainable livelihoods in Latin America, few studies analyze the impacts of household assets and social networks on technology adoption and well-being in forest regions.I use regression analysis of social and ecological data from transect, household, and property levels to examine these links in the Brazilian Amazon. This work also encompasses household and expert interviews in Jamaica, Brazil, and Mexico to examine interactions between assets, institutions, and infrastructure in determining the vulnerability of coffee farmers to climate change. In both studies I am particularly interested in the role of social and knowledge capital.

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Assessing land-use sustainability in the Brazilian Amazon

Fulbright Nexus Scholars Program

Tradeoffs and scalability of integrated crop and livestock practices

This research examines the net social and private benefits of integrated crop and livestock practices and other complex sustainable agriculture technologies. I also analyze the biophysical, socio-economic, and cultural barriers to their adoption. My analysis spans the US, Brazil, and New Zealand and employs several designs: a whole-farm model to assess feedbacks between agro-ecosystem processes and farm management, statistical analysis of the spatial determinants of current practices, comparative policy analysis of incentives and constraints across countries, and focus groups to evaluate technologies and policy scenarios.

See these websites for more information:

BU Research Page on Integrated Crop and Livestock Practices
NSF #1415352
Harvard SSP – Integrated Practices in Brazil, New Zealand, and US

Courses Taught