ESPP announces recent winners of the Competitive Research Grant

January 22, 2024

Congratulations to Xiang Yu (F&W) and Abhinav Kapoor (SPDC) for receiving 2024 ESPP Competitive Research Grants.


Xiang's proposed research will study the impacts of Russian-Ukraine war on global environmentally sustainable development. 

The Russia-Ukraine war has resulted in a series of environmental impacts far beyond war zones by causing shocks to global markets including food, energy, and fertilizer markets. These effects have significantly impeded progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) worldwide, particularly in some low-income and middle-income countries. However, there is a lack of spatio-temporal analyses of the impacts of the Russia-Ukraine war on the SDG targets. Here, I plan to analyze the effects of the Russia-Ukraine war on global environmental sustainability through virtual materials flows accounting embedded in global trade post the Russia-Ukraine war. Principal component analysis will then be applied to distinguish the contribution of the war. Furthermore, the impacts on different types of countries will be compared under the metacoupling framework to uncover unexpected environmental interactions between different nations. This research will not only contribute to environmental sustainability and related policymaking but also provide references for understanding the environmental impacts of similar international disasters.


Abhinav's research will focus on the effects of cannabis legalization on agriculture, investment, and tourism in Thailand. 

Thailand, one of the biggest tourist hubs in Asia, decriminalized consumption of recreational cannabis in 2022. This study analyzes the economic impact this move has had on the Thai economy. It examines the impacts of the legalization on small-scale farmers, traders, investors, and on the travel and tourism sector at large. Present economic theories suggest that fresh market opportunities may help farmers and traders by connecting them with foreign investors, that domestic investors may be drawn to the business by the promise of economic growth, and that cannabis tourism may help generate more tax revenue. To assess results for stakeholders, the study will make use of surveys, interviews, and secondary data analysis. Qualitative data from farmers, traders, investors, and tourists will provide firsthand perspectives. Quantitative analysis of economic indicators like income, assets, investments, and tourism revenue will also be conducted. The methodology integrates the Principal Investigators’ collective expertise in crop management, economics, urban planning, and development studies to evaluate this unprecedented change in the Southeast Asian economies. Findings from the study can inform stakeholder-focused policies that optimize Thailand's developing cannabis landscape. Performing a careful examination of the Thai experience can also offer a framework for projecting possible outcomes in other Asian nations that are thinking about legalizing cannabis use for recreational purposes.