Elena G. Irwin

Elena Irwin (right) receiving a plaque from Vernon Henderson

Elena Irwin (right) receiving a plaque from Vernon Henderson

Elena G. Irwin is one of the exciting young scholars working in regional science today. Elena typifies the diversity of intellectual backgrounds found in regional science. She majored in History and German, before pursuing graduate work in Agricultural Economics at the University of Maryland. She received her PhD in 1998 and took a position in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics at Ohio State University, where she is currently an Associate Professor. Following from her thesis, her work focuses on land use modeling, ecological-economic modeling and applied spatial econometrics, and the role of amenities in regional growth. She is a past recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Research Fellowship and of a number of awards for outstanding paper contributions given by the Northeast Agricultural Resource Economics Association, North American Association for Computational Social and Organizational Science and the American Collegiate Schools of Planning.

She has published over 40 papers in leading journals including the Journal of Regional Science, Regional Science and Urban Economics, American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Land Economics, Journal of Economic Geography, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that have received over 700 citations.

Her work on land use was the first to point out identification problems that arise from the endogenous nature of land use spillovers in conjunction with spatial dependence. Her 2002 Journal of Economic Geography paper co-authored with Nancy Bockstael tackles the task of identifying how spillover effects from land use changes impact spatially distributed agents. Using a novel econometric identification strategy, they find empirical evidence of negative interactions among recently developed residential subdivisions in exurban Maryland, providing an alternative to the conventional economic explanation for low density sprawl. Other work by Elena has examined direct and indirect (spatial spillover) impacts on residential location choice that arise from environmental amenities, local public goods, race, and local government policies.

Elena Irwin will undoubtedly be a future intellectual leader in regional science, and shape the discipline’s thinking about the interdisciplinary nature of land use issues. For her distinguished record as a young scholar, the North American Regional Science Council presents Elena Irwin the Hewings Award.

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