Hanna combines interest in interdisciplinary senior project

Landon Hanna, ’17, is a double major in economics and environmental science. For his senior comprehensive project, he is invested in researching the economic impacts of the conservation of French Creek.

Hanna said that he often has difficulty explaining his senior thesis to people outside of his discipline since it incorporates several complex ideas.

“[I am] looking at ecosystem service values of French Creek within Crawford County of the 60 meter repairing zone and comparing those values to the value of developing the land into residential houses,” Hanna said.

Hanna said he is interested in looking at ways to repair a small town economy in an environmentally friendly manner. Hanna said that being from Dubois, Pennsylvania, he has experience with a town similar to Meadville in size, and he feels a personal tie to this research.

“I chose to do this topic on both [environmental science and economics] because it has significance to this area and the local economy,” Hanna said.

The interdisciplinary nature of Hanna’s composition is noteworthy, according to Hanna’s project adviser, Professor of Environmental Science Scott Wissinger.

“It’s always wonderful to work with someone who has interdisciplinary interest, and Landon has those. To me, it includes both a genuine interest in the environment — which I see when I work with him out in the field — and then his acumen for being in the economic department as a major. The fun thing is the blend of those two things,” Wissinger said.

Hanna said the interdisciplinary aspect of his research is instrumental. He said that conservation is often cast aside in the study of economics and his composition attempts to include conservation into conversations of development.

“I feel like it’s important because conservation is something that I would say is looked over a lot in economics sometimes. It’s considered a negative extremality of development, is you’re losing those values of conservation and those natural ecosystem services, so if these values are considered and when you’re looking to change, land conservation can sometimes be more beneficial to the local economy,” Hanna said.

Additionally, Hanna said that he hopes that local politicians will consider his research in how conservation can positively serve the local economy and create greater tourism for the area.

Liana Leja, ’17 is a member of Hanna’s senior composition group for environmental science. She said that she enjoyed reading his thesis because it relates economics to conservation, a concept that is fairly unique.

“I thought it was interesting that he was able to put concrete numbers behind the benefits of nature conservation, and overall pretty awesome that he was able to show the actual economic value of conserving the French Creek,” Leja said.

After graduation, Hanna said that he is planning on finding a job in Pittsburgh in the field of economics. He said he hopes to find a job that will allow him to merge his interests. After four to five years in the field, Hanna said he will apply to graduate school to further his study of environmental science.