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Molly Elder

School: Graduate School of Arts and Sciences/The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

Department: Economics

Research Interests: Climate Change, Business and Economics

TIE Affiliation

Environmental Research Fellowship


Boreal forests are important stores of terrestrial carbon, but wildfire regimes in these forests are intensifying due to climate change, burning more acres and releasing large amounts of carbon. This project will use an inclusive ecological and economic model to project changes in wildfire regimes in Alaskan boreal forests under different climate and management scenarios through the end of the century. Then, utilizing the Social Cost of Carbon, Molly will perform cost/benefit analyses under these different scenarios comparing the costs of management to the avoided social cost of additional GHG emissions. This will allow her to evaluate fire management compared to other carbon mitigation strategies. She will also be able to estimate the funding increase required to keep fires at historical levels under different climate scenarios.


Molly is a dual degree PhD student at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, with respective concentrations in Economics and Public Policy, and Energy and Environment. She expects to complete her studies in May 2023. Molly earned her B.A. in Economics and Philosophy from Johns Hopkins University. Prior to coming to Tufts, Molly interned with Friends of the Earth researching the social and environmental practices of major palm oil companies. She tutored students in basic econ, and TA'd for probability and statistics. She also spent a summer working in the White Mountains for the Appalachian Mountain Club. At Tufts, Molly is co-president of the Fletcher Climbing Club.

Current Studies and Future Goals

When asked what she found most meaningful about her field of study, Molly responded with the following: “Environmental and climate issues have moved me since I was a little kid and my great-grandmother got me a subscription to National Geographic. I love that economics gives me a framework to look at the issues I care about rigorously. I hope that by applying economic principles and methods to environmental problems I'll be able to make the best policy recommendations possible and make the largest positive impact I can.”

When asked what interested her in becoming a TIE Fellow, Molly responded with the following: “I have had an appreciation for interdisciplinary work since I was an undergrad, when I double majored in economics and philosophy. My current work combines economics and ecology, so a program focused on interdisciplinary environmental work seemed like a perfect fit."

After Tufts, Molly hopes to work either in government, on environmental policy, or in a policy-adjacent position like a researcher at a think tank.

Fun Facts!

When not doing school work, Molly enjoys rock climbing, running, knitting, and hiking when weather allows.

Favorite food/drink: BBQ chips and Moroccan Mint tea

Favorite movie/TV show: Twin Peaks

Favorite song/artist: Neutral Ground by Sea Wolf

Favorite place you've visited: Mt Rainier National Park

Favorite course taken at Tufts: Climate Change and Clean Energy Policy (Prof. Gallagher)