Gardner was unfortunately prevented from traveling to New Orleans and cannot be here today to accept his award. However, we have attempted to patch him in to the proceedings via speakerphone.
Gardner’s career as a natural resource/environmental economist now spans several decades. It began when he did a summer internship with John Krutilla at RFF in the late 1950’s. Gardner later completed his dissertation at Berkeley and took his first, and only, academic position in the Department of Economics at the University of Washington—when the field of natural resource economics was new and just establishing its identity. When Gardner began publishing and teaching, there was not yet an Endangered Species Act or an EPA.
Gardner has always allowed his deep environmental interests to drive his selection of research problems. However, he has also made his economic analyses rigorous, taking early advantage of newly developed techniques (e.g. in dynamic optimization, random parameters discrete choice models). With an eye for interesting problems, yet meticulous attention to the degree of rigor expected in modern economic analysis, Gardner has been able to publish in leading economic journals such as the AER, REStat and the JPE—even though the topics of his applications were things such as the value of shoreline or ducks. He managed to be an “economist’s economist” while engaging scholars and researchers in other fields, getting the rest of the economics profession to take seriously some natural resources issues that they might otherwise simply have shrugged off.
Gardner has often been the first, or among the first, to tackle emerging environmental problems or apply new approaches. He offered us one of the earliest applications of the contingent valuation method, complete with Tony Scott’s skeptical quot; he was also the first to seriously employ ecological predator-prey systems and metapopulation models in economics. We also identify Gardner with significant contributions on the topics of:
- calibrated and simulated bioeconomic modeling
- dynamic fisheries management
- hedonic travel cost modeling
- valuing non-consumptive species in trophic systems
- timber/endangered species tradeoffs
- antibiotic resistance.
Gardner’s work thrives on its connections to other disciplines. This is no doubt why he has been asked to serve on four different National Academy of Sciences panels, as well as the National Science Board’s Task Force on Global Biodiversity.
It has been pointed out that “rumors” of Gardner’s retirement in 2001 seem to have been exaggerated. While he officially retired from the University of Washington, he did not retire from the field of natural resource and environmental economics or AERE. Since his erstwhile retirement, Gardner has continued to contribute to AERE through his cycle on the AERE Workshop Committee (which included chairing the 2005 workshop).
It is worth noting that even as late as 1970, the University of Washington was among only a handful of universities that had substantive programs in environmental and natural resource economics. Gardner’s early role in mentoring students and fostering their research interests thus places him as one of the pioneers among educators of Ph.D. students in environmental and resource economics.
For his quirky ability to identify really important natural resource issues (sometimes in unlikely places) and to tackle them with a degree of rigor that commands the respect of economists in all subfields; for his ability to harmonize the ideas of economists with those of experts in other disciplines and thus contribute important insights to debates about natural resources management and public policy; for his contributions to the creation of a cadre of natural resources economists from UW, and for his generous service to AERE, we today induct Gardner M. Brown as a 2007 Fellow of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.