Lisa Wainger

Photo of Lisa Wainger Research Professor
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Chesapeake Biological Laboratory
146 Williams Street
Solomons, Maryland 20688
Phone: 410-326-7401

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Research Disciplines: Research Interests:

cost-benefit analysis, ecosystem services, invasive species, aquaculture, wetland policy, water quality, coastal resilience, non-monetary benefit indicators

View Lisa's CV

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Wainger is a research professor of environmental economics at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. She has over 20 years of experience in integrating ecological and economic analysis tools to evaluate costs, benefits and risks of environmental policies. She frequently collaborates to develop interdisciplinary models to project ecological and economic outcomes of management actions and test incentives for achieving social goals. Her expertise emphasizes the implications of spatial variability of combined human and biophysical drivers on system outcomes. She has applied integrated modeling to the measurement of ecosystem service benefits, nutrient (water quality) trading, wetland mitigation policy, land use policy, and cost-effective multi-objective policy design. She is currently co-chair of the Ecosystem Science and Management Working Group of the Science Advisory Board to the NOAA Administrator; Chair-Elect of the California Delta Independent Science Board; and past chair of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee to the US EPA Chesapeake Bay Program. She is a frequent economics advisor to government agencies (including the White House Council on Environmental Quality, National Academies of Science), non-governmental organizations, and private businesses.


  • B.S.       1986 (with honors, Phi Beta Kappa), Earth Science, University of California, Santa Cruz.
  • Ph.D.     1997 Environmental and Ecological Economics (within Marine Estuarine Environmental Sciences), University of Maryland, College Park.

Ongoing and Recent CESU Projects

Benefits of Wetlands for Flood Risk Reduction; Agency: USACE ERDC; 2017-2021.

Developing analysis to evaluate the relative influence of wetland restoration on streamflow characteristics. Goal is to measure wetland benefits for flood attenuation as a function of watershed location and other characteristics.

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Water Hyacinth Control; Agency: USACE ERDC; 2015-2017.

Valued the ecosystem service benefits of water hyacinth control using a novel framework to consistently define ecosystem services across civil works projects. The economic analysis revealed that combined biological and herbicide control programs, monitored over a long time period (1975-2013), generated a benefit-cost ratio of about 32:1 based on benefits to anglers, waterfowl hunters, boating-dependent businesses, and water treatment facilities.

A Framework for Ecosystem Service Benefit Analysis; Agency: US Army Corps of Engineers; 2013-2016.

Led an interdisciplinary team of academic and government researchers to develop methods for measuring benefits of projects and programs. Tested the approach in workshops with Corps analysts and through retrospective analysis of case studies. Produced a framework document to serves as the basis of ongoing efforts to integrate ecosystem service benefits in planning.

Ecosystem Services Benefits of Corps Ecological Restoration Projects in the Coastal Northeast: Hurricane Sandy Case Study; Agency: USACE ERDC; 2012-2013.

Analyzed available spatial and other data to create benefit indicators and estimate economic values for changes in ecosystem services in three coastal restoration (green infrastructure) projects along the eastern seaboard with special focus on their performance during Hurricane Sandy. Restoration projects included wetland and dune creation, beach enhancement, and island creation. Work was conducted in collaboration with Corps (USACE) personnel to capture measurable social, cultural and economic benefits.

Other Research

See publication list here.


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