L a l a   X.   M a 

Welcome to my website!

I am an Associate Professor of Economics in the Gatton College of Business and Economics at the University of Kentucky. I received my Ph.D. in Economics from Duke University in 2014. 

My primary research area lies in the field of environmental economics, with a focus on non-market valuation. I combine economic modeling with data to estimate the value of environmental services as an input into policy. My work can be broadly categorized into three areas: valuation as revealed through housing markets (or “sorting” and “hedonic valuation”), valuation using direct impacts on health or environmental outcomes, and distributional and equity issues related to pollution exposure (broadly known as “environmental justice”). 

Contact Information

University of Kentucky

Department of Economics

Gatton College of Business & Economics

Lexington, KY 40506

Phone: (859) 257-2776

E-mail: lala dot ma at uky dot edu

Academic & Professional Positions

2022 - present    Associate Professor, Department of Economics, University of Kentucky.

2014 – 2022        Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, University of Kentucky.

2010 – 2013        Research Assistant, Christopher Timmins, Duke University, Durham, NC.

2007 – 2009        Financial Management Consultant, IBM Corporation, Global Business Services, Public Sector, Washington, DC.


2014                    Ph.D. Economics, Duke University, Durham, NC

2007                    B.A. / M.A. Economics, B.A. Mathematics, Tufts University, Medford, MA

Primary Research Fields

Non-Market Valuation, Environmental Economics

Publications and Working Papers


"Racial Gaps in Federal Flood Buyout Compensations" with Kay Jowers and Chris Timmins. (2023). Forthcoming at AEA: Papers and Proceedings.

"The (Alleged) Environmental and Social Benefits of Dynamic Pricing" with Matthew Harding, Kyle Kettler, and Carlos Lamarche. (2023). Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. Vol. 205: 574-593.

"Drinking Water, Fracking, and Infant Health" with Elaine Hill. (2022). Journal of Health Economics. Vol. 82.

"The Fracking Concern with Water Quality" with Elaine Hill. (2021). Science. Vol. 373, Issue 6557: 853-854.

"Economic, Environmental, and Health Impacts of the Fracking Boom" with Katie Black, Andrew Boslett, Elaine Hill and Shawn McCoy. (2021). Annual Review of Resource Economics. Vol. 13: 311-334.

"Rural Light Pollution from Shale Gas Development and Associated Sleep and Subjective Well-Being" with Andrew Boslett, Elaine Hill and Lujia Zhang. (2021). Resource and Energy Economics. Vol. 64.

"Mapping the Clean Air Haves and Have-nots." (2020). Science. Vol. 369, Issue 6503: 503-504.

"Sorting Over Flood Risks and Implications for Flood Insurance Reform" with Laura A. Bakkensen. (2020). Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. Vol. 104.

"Environmental Justice:  Establishing Causal Relationships" with Spencer Banzhaf and Christopher Timmins. (2019). Annual Review of Resource Economics.  Vol. 11: 377-398.

"User Responses to Imperfect Forecasts: Findings from an Experiment with Kentucky Wheat Farmers" with Yoko Kusunose (1st author) and David Van Sanford. (2019). Weather, Climate, and Society. Vol. 11, No. 4: 791-808.

"Learning in a Hedonic Framework: Valuing Brownfield Remediation." (2019). International Economic Review. Vol. 60, No. 3: 1355-1387. 

"Environmental Justice: The Economics of Race, Place and Pollution" with Spencer Banzhaf and Christopher Timmins. (2019).  Journal of Economic Perspectives. Vol. 33, No. 1: 185-208.

"Flood Risk and Salience: New Evidence from the Sunshine State" with Laura A. Bakkensen and Xiaozhou Ding. (2019). Southern Economic Journal. Vol. 85, No. 4: 1132–1158.

Use of Property Values and Location Decisions for Environmental Valuation.” (2018). Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Environmental Science: Environmental Economics, Jim Kahn (Ed.), Oxford University Press. 

"Shale Gas Development and Drinking Water Quality" with Elaine L. Hill. (2017). American Economic Review, Papers and Proceedings. Vol. 107, No. 5: 522-525.

"The Value of Brownfield Remediation" with Kevin Haninger and Christopher Timmins. (2017). Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource  Economists. Vol. 4, No. 1: 197-241.

Working Papers 

"Who Benefits from Hazardous Waste Cleanups? Evidence from the Housing Market" with Alecia Cassidy and Elaine Hill. (2022). NBER Working Paper #30661.

"Racial Dynamics of Federal Property Buyouts in Flood-Prone Areas" with Kay Jowers and Chris Timmins (2022).

"The Health Impacts of Hazardous Waste Cleanups" with Alecia Cassidy and Elaine Hill. (2021).

"A Dynamic Approach to Explain Flood Risk Exposure and Household Location Choice” with Laura Bakkensen and Lucija Muehlenbachs. (2021).

"The Effects of Property Allocations, Generations Later: Railroad Grants, Mineral Rights Severance, and Drilling Externalities in Colorado” with Andrew Boslett, Richard DiSalvo, and Elaine Hill. (2021). 

"Race and Environmental Worries" with Ranie Lin and Toan Phan. (2021).

Awards, Fellowships and Grants

2021-2023 “Wildfire Risks in Rural Communities: Measuring Impacts, Modeling Choices, Evaluating Policies.” Matthew Wibbenmeyer (Project Director/PI), Margaret Walls (PI), USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), $425,015 (Ma subaward: $60,000).

2021 Junior Faculty Research Productivity Award, Gatton College of Business & Economics, University of Kentucky

2019               Research Excellence Summer Support Award, Gatton College of Business and Economics, University of Kentucky

2018               Faculty Teaching Award, Department of Economics, University of Kentucky

2016-2020     “The Health Consequences of Shale Gas Development.” Elaine Hill (Project Director/PI), National Institutes of Health (1 DP5 OD021338-01; PI: Hill), (Ma subaward: $58,467)

2015-2016     University of Rochester Medical School EHSC IHSFC Grant with Elaine Hill (co-PI, $8,000)

2013-2014     Joseph L. Fisher Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, Resources for the Future

2012, 2013    Graduate School Summer Research Fellowship, Duke University

2007               Marion Ricker Houston Prize Scholarship in Economics, Tufts University

Teaching & Advising

Courses Taught

ECO 410, 381         Environmental Economics (Undergraduate), University of Kentucky

ECO 491 Applied Econometrics (Undergraduate), University of Kentucky

ECO 499                 Seminar in Environmental Justice (Undergraduate), University of Kentucky

ECO 724                 Environmental Economics (Ph.D.), University of Kentucky

Graduate Advising

Current (PhD Committee)

Sam Owens (Public Policy), Fang-Yu (Elise) Yeh

Former PhD Committee (Initial Placement):

Ben Wallace (PhD 2019, Economist, Federal Trade Commission), Zheng Yang (PhD 2019, Assistant Professor, Liaoning University), Whitney Davis (PhD 2019 Public Policy), Sookti Chaudhary (PhD 2020, Assistant Professor, College of Wooster), Anh Le (PhD 2021, Economist, FDA), Timothy Hyde (CMU PhD 2022, Post-Doc, U Penn)

Professional Activities

Member, Environmental Defense Fund, Economic Advisory Council   (2023 - )

Rising Star Keynote Address, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association (2022)

Member, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Science Advisory Board, Economic Analysis Committee (20212024)

Member, Editorial Council, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management (2021 – 2025)

Review Committee, NBER Distributional Consequences of New Energy Technologies (2021)

Speaker, Webinar on Environmental Justice hosted by Resources for the Future and the Urban Institute (2021)

Mentor, CSWEP Graduate Student Mentoring Workshop (2020)

Faculty Fellow, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency & Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (2019 2020) 

Proposal Reviewer 

National Science Foundation, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation

Department, College, and University Service

Internal Advisory Board, United in True Racial Equity (UNITE) Research Priority Area (2022- )

College Graduate Studies Committee (2020-)

College Diversity Committee (2017-18)

College Graduate Studies Committee (2020-)

Department Recruiting Committee (2017-18, 2020-21)

Department Mark C. Berger Seminar and Workshop Committee (2017-)