Photo of Thomas Ochuodho

Background

Dr. Thomas Ochuodho joined the Department of Forestry in November 2016 as an Assistant Professor of Forest Economics and Policy. A native of Kenya, he obtained his B.S. in Forestry (1997) and M.Phil. in Forest Economics and Management (2006) from Moi University, Kenya and Ph.D. in Forestry (Economics and Policy) from University of New Brunswick, Canada (2013). Dr. Ochuodho did his Postdoctoral research at Virginia Tech (2014-2015) and Auburn University (2015-2016) where he worked on economics of bioenergy projects supported by U.S. Departments of Energy and Agriculture. Dr. Ochuodho has over 18 years of cumulative work experience in integrated natural resource management in collaborative multi-institutional programs/projects in forestry, agriculture, climate change, renewable energy, land use, environmental management, sustainable development, rural community livelihood systems, international trade and teaching. He has worked in Kenya, Canada and United States.

Current projects

Dr. Ochuodho is currently working on the following projects.

Economics of Forest Health Threats

Dr. Ochuodho is a co-leader, with a counterpart from U.S. Forest Service, Southern Research Station, of the Social Sciences Team of Forest Health Research and Education Center (FHC). FHC is a new collaborative research initiative between the Department of Forestry, University of Kentucky and U.S. Forest Service, Southern Research Station. The mission of FHC is to advance the conservation of forested ecosystems by integrating genetics-based biological research with social science (economics) research and education and outreach on factors affecting tree health and forest restoration. Currently, Dr. Ochuodho is working with FHC team to conduct a Delphi survey on health threats on oak trees in Eastern and Southern Regions of the U.S. Forest Service.

Oak (Quercus spp.) plays both ecological and economic critical roles in Kentucky, the surrounding region, and arguably the nation as a whole. Oak trees dominate Kentucky’s forests and have been an important part of the forest products industry for centuries. White oak (Quercus alba) in particular, is used in the production of veneer, lumber, stave logs (wood used to manufacture barrels or casks), and railroad ties. Kentucky’s largest wood export is new and used bourbon barrels which are made from white oak.  The second largest export is white oak lumber. Sustaining white oak resources is critical to the long-term survival and growth of forest products and distilling industries responsible for generating billions of dollars to local economies, and several hundred-thousand jobs throughout the region.

The goal of this survey is to identify the most significant threats (biotic and abiotic) to oaks in the regions and to gauge the potential impact of these threats on oaks. The data generated from this expert opinion survey series will be used to support subsequent analyses aimed at assessing the impact of these threats. The FHC is funded jointly by University of Kentucky and U.S. Forest Service, Southern Research Station.

Natural Capital Accounting

The Natural Capital Accounting project in Rwanda is supported by The Nature Conservancy through Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP). SNAPP is collaborative initiative between the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), The Nature Conservancy and Wildlife Conservation Society. The project’s overarching goal is to collaborate and synthesize existing information to address key questions at the intersection of nature conservation, economic development, and human well-being in ways that will provide real world benefits for humankind. In particular, this project aims to establish the direct relationship between natural capital and the economy and the backward linkage. Results from this project will guide natural capital management policy agenda and also provide a practical field-tested case study for other regions.

Future research

Dr. Ochuodho is preparing to establish a research program that will broadly focus on Integrated Biophysical-Economic Analysis and Modeling to address contemporary natural resource issues. His research interests include, but not limited to, application of computable general equilibrium modeling in natural resource management and policy analysis, natural capital accounting, economics of bioenergy, energy-water-food nexus, climate change, and applied econometrics.


Thomas O. Ochuodho, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Forest Economics and Policy
(859) 257-1770 | thomas.ochuodho@uky.edu | 223 T.P. Cooper Building