Dr. Emilio F. Moran

John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor

Manly Miles Building
1405 South Harrison Road, Room 218
East Lansing, Michigan 48823

Phone: (517) 884-1236
Link to CV: Emilio Moran CV - September 2017

Affiliations: Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences, Center for Global Change and Earth Observations, and Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability

Geographical Areas of Specialization: Latin America, Brazil

Research Interests: Ecological Anthropology; Research Methods; Tropical Ecology and Resource Management, Land Use and Land Cover Change, and Demography

Member: National Science Board of the National Science Foundation (2016-2022); U.S. National Academy of Sciences since 2010


Contemporary society problems cannot be understood with methods designed for studying largely sedentary populations. Populations across the world today are on the move physically, as a result of loss of control over local resources over which they had no legal documents, as a result of war and famine, as a result of the shifting international demand for labor, and as a result of environmental degradation. How to study these populations' role in environmental change is a major challenge.

My research has focused on the study of populations in the Amazon Basin experiencing dislocation through resettlement. Traditional methods do not apply because of the transitory nature of settlement in forested frontiers with up to 85% of the population moving within the first decade of settlement but replaced with others immediately. These populations experience rapid shifts: from shifting cultivators to extensive annual cropping to intensive cultivators of grains to intensive managers of permanent crops or irrigated areas - - all this while dividing their household labor between the farm and the non-farm sector, between mining and farming, and other options available in local ecosystems.

My current research combines remote sensing methods and ground-level methods of data gathering and analysis that permit a continual checking of macro and micro levels of analysis. They aim to permit inferences from one level to be tested with data at another; and to discover the indices that may best serve to understand the linkages between global, regional and local-level processes. Students working with me would have the opportunity to become familiar with remote sensing methods and to relate satellite images at a number of sites to social processes at a micro-level. The goals of the current research are to develop a multi-level, multi-site, longitudinal, and comparative approach to the study of how people impact forests, how they organize to manage their resources, and what role population plays in their shifting actions. Currently this research is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health (NICHD) and FAPESP, Fundacao de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado de Sao Paulo, Brazil. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the program on Ambiente e Sociedade of the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp) in Sao Paulo. Students are routinely incorporated into these large-scale projects where they learn how to collaborate across disciplines.

Pesquisa Fapesp profiles Dr. Emilio Moran

As head of a Project on the impacts of Belo Monte hydroelectric power plant’s construction, anthropologist Emilio Moran speaks on Amazonia deforestation since the 1970’s. He also comments on the invitation to join the National Science Board (NSB), which sets strategies for the National Science Foundation (NSF), United States’ main research support agency.

Published on January 23, 2017

MSU 'Rethinks Hydropower' with $2.6M National Science Foundation Grant

An interdisciplinary team of Michigan State University scientists will use a $2.6 million National Science Foundation grant to investigate new ways of producing hydropower, increasing food production and lessening the environmental damage caused by dams.

Read the story at MSUToday

Updated January 25, 2017

Dr. Emilio Moran appointed as a National Science Board Member of the National Science Foundation

Today, President Barack Obama announced more key administration posts, with his intent to appoint Dr. Emilio Moran as a National Science Board Member at the National Science Foundation. President Obama said, "I am grateful that these talented and dedicated individuals have agreed to take on these important roles and devote their talents to serving the American people. I look forward to working with them."

Read the press release

Updated October 6, 2016

MSU Geographers Part of Team that Lands Major ($2.6 million) NSF Grant

Dr. Emilio Moran of Geography, is the lead PI of a collaborative team of researchers at MSU, one that also includes Dr. Nathan Moore (also of Geography) as a Co-PI, that has won a ~$2.6-million grant for a 4-yr project entitled: Rethinking Dams: Innovative Hydropower Solutions to achieve sustainable food and energy production and sustainable communities.

Learn more about the grant

Updated September 7, 2016

Dr. Emilio Moran discusses climate change in the Amazon on Dialogue Without Borders

During Dr. Moran's recent trip to Brazil, he discussed climate change in the Amazon with Dr. Pedro Paulo A Funari of the Institute of Philosophy and Human Sciences, State University of Campinas - UNICAMP, for Dialogue Without Borders.

Watch the program in English | Watch the program in Portuguese

Updated July 15, 2014

Dr. Emilio Moran gave 2013 Hannah Lecture

Emilio Moran: Transforming the Amazon
A long-term study of the impacts of road building on people and nature and of the greater impacts forthcoming from the third largest hydroelectric dam in the world.

Thursday, October 24, at 4:00 p.m.
Kellogg Center, Lincoln Room

Dr. Moran will lecture on his life's work as an immensely successful and groundbreaking researcher of environmental, social and natural science issues, especially in the Brazilian Amazon. His lecture will be followed by a question and answer period.

Updated November 27, 2013

Jornal Da Unicamp interviews Dr. Moran

Jornal Da Unicamp

"When it comes to environmental issues, we need a more honest debate about what are in fact human needs and therefore what it means to have a comfortable life and be economically viable. It is recommended by the anthropologist Emilio Moran, visiting professor in the graduate program in Environment and Society at the Center for Environmental Studies and Research (Nepam) at Unicamp. Moran is teaching a course this semester at the invitation of the coordinator of the Climate Project, Professor Lúcia da Costa Ferreira. The Climate Project Nepam and Center for Population Studies (Nepo), both from Unicamp, is a thematic project financed by FAPESP, whose goal is to understand how population dynamics interact with the social and ecological dynamics in a region of high environmental vulnerability - the coast of Sao Paulo - in the context of global climate change. In the following interview, Moran, who is from Indiana University (USA), also talks about deforestation in the Amazon, consumerism and the role of meeting in Brazil at Rio +20, among other topics..."

Click here for the article and interview! (available in Portuguese only)

Published Apr 16, 2012

ACT hosts "Fusion of Polarimetric Radar and Optical Data for Land Cover Classification" Workshop

Click on image to access its high-resolution version.

On October 7th and 8th, ACT hosted a workshop at Indiana University's Memorial Union on "Fusion of Polarimetric Radar and Optical Data for Land Cover Classification" at Indiana University's Memorial Union. Presentations given ranged from topics on Land Use and Remote Sensing, Land Cover Classification, Data Fusion Techniques and Methods.

Drs. Emilio Moran, Eduardo Brondizio, Dengshend Lu, and Rinku Roy Chowdhury hosted Drs. Luciano Dutra, Corina Freitas, and Sidnei Sant'Anna from INPE, Brazil's National Institute for Space Research, as well as Dr. Mateus Batistella from EMBRAPA, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation.

Click here to access a copy of the workshop agenda.

Published Oct 20, 2011

Dr. Emilio Moran officially inducted into National Academy of Sciences

Dr. Emilio Moran

Dr. Moran and Pres. Cicerone

Moran, ACT's director, who was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in April 2010, was officially inducted to the NAS in a ceremony April 30, 2011, in which he signed the book and was then congratulated by the NAS President Ralph Cicerone. Congratulations to Dr. Moran!

Published Aug 22, 2011

IU ecological anthropologist Moran elected to National Academy of Sciences

Congratulations to Dr. Moran for his induction into the National Academy of Sciences!

Dr. Moran

Click here for full IU News Room article!

Published Dec 02, 2010

Summer 2010 Release of "Meio Ambiente & Florestas"

This book is aimed at the general reader in Brazil to inform them of the value of forests both economically and environmentally. It was released on the occasion of the Book Fair in Sao Paulo, Brazil, that lasted from Aug. 12-22, 2010.

Meio Ambiente & Florestas Dr. Moran out shopping

The book can be obtained through the links below:

Editora SENAC, Sao Paulo

Livraria Cultura, Sao Paulo

Congratulations to Dr. Moran on the Summer 2010 release of 'Meio Ambiente & Florestas'!

Published Dec 02, 2010

Two new books released this past March!

This past March, two books edited by Drs. Emilio Moran, Mateus Batistella, Diogenes Alves, and Elinor Ostrom hit the shelves!

The Press of the University of São Paulo, Editora SENAC Sao Paulo, and the Livraria da Vila hosted a release event and book signing that took place at Livravia da Vila - the announcement is posted below:

Amazonia Ecossistema

The Press of the University of São Paulo, and Editora SENAC Sao Paulo, together with the Livraria da Vila, invite you to the release of the books:

Amazonia: Nature and Society in Transformation Edited by Mateus Batistella, Emilio F. Moran, and Diogenes Alves


Forest Ecosystems: Human Environment Interactions Edited by Emilio F. Moran and Elinor Ostrom

On March 24, 2009, between the hours of 18:30 and 21:30:

The editors will present the two books from 19 to 20 hrs, and then there will be a book signing and reception in the Bookstore:

Livravia da Vila
Rua Fradique Coutinho 915
São Paulo, SP
Phone +55-11-3814-5811

Book Signing

Purchase Amazonia - Natureza E Sociedade Em Transformaçao

Purchase Ecossistemas Florestais

Published Sep 14, 2009

Dr. Moran presents 2007 Herman B Wells Distinguished Lecture


The Institute for Advanced Study has provided the full text of Dr. Moran’s lecture to the Society for Advanced Study (which he presented in the Fall 2007) on the topic “Human-Environment Interactions in the Amazon Rain Forest” here:

Lecture Transcript

Published Aug 04, 2008

"People and Nature" by Dr. Emilio Moran Out Now!

Book Signing

Congratulations to Dr. Moran on publication of the Portuguese version of PEOPLE AND NATURE: NOS E A NATUREZA - UMA INTRODUÇAO AS RELAÇOES HOMEM-AMBIENTE, recently released in Brazil. Above is a picture from the book launching on June 23rd.

Nos E A Natureza

Synopse: Emilio F. Moran, estudioso das questões ambientais e professor da área de meio ambiente na Universida de Indiana (EUA), traz uma abordagem fundamentada e com diversos insights a respeito das relações entre o homem e o ambiente. Discute, por exemplo, como muitas comunidades provocam impacto bem menor no planeta do que as sociedades urbano-industriais e possuem conceituações muito diferentes de como tratar a natureza.

Click here to purchase

Published Jul 23, 2008

"GEOINFORMAÇÃO MONTORIMENTO AMBIENTAL NA AMERICA LATINA," edited by Drs. Emilio Moran and Mateus Batistella out now!

Book Signing Book Cover

Congratulations to both Drs. Moran and Batistella on their edited volume “GEOINFORMAÇÃO MONTORIMENTO AMBIENTAL NA AMERICA LATINA” which was launched on July 15th in Brazil.

Purchase here

Published Jul 22, 2008

Emilio F. Moran Awarded Distinguished Professorship

Dr. Emilio F. Moran

As an anthropologist, Emilio Moran has always been concerned with how people and the environment interact in complex and sometimes unanticipated ways. His more than 30 years of scholarly study of that interaction have put him at the forefront of a new interdisciplinary field: environmental anthropology. "When we think of pioneers in ecological/environmental anthropology, Dr. Moran is certainly one of them," says Robert E. Rhoades, Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Georgia. "He is addressing some of the most challenging theoretical issues that anthropology needs to address and is doing so with great rigor." Moran's extensive work in the area of global environmental change has brought him international recognition. While studying Amazonian populations and land use in Brazil, his work with local communities led him to focus on the social causes of tropical deforestation. His research on the changing ecosystems of Amazonia has become a model for interdisciplinary collaboration, helping bridge the gap between the social and biophysical sciences. "Indeed, in many ways he has been instrumental in not only defining and expanding our contemporary understanding of what ecological anthropology is, and should be, but also in setting standards for large-scale, integrative social science," says Jeanne Sept, vice provost for academic affairs and dean of the faculties at IU Bloomington. Moran is one of only a few anthropologists worldwide who have addressed the importance of the human dimensions of global environmental change. His research into the human causes and consequences of environmental change ultimately debunked some long-standing myths about human interaction with the environment, such as the idea that the soils of the humid tropics are uniformly poor or that human population growth drives deforestation. He is also widely recognized as one of the first social scientists to integrate the use of satellite remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) into anthropological research. His use of remote sensing and GIS to help map changes over time in land-use practices added new technologies to traditional research methodologies, providing new insight into the dynamics of human-environment interaction. Moran's ability to obtain funding for his work is unmatched among his peers. In the past 15 years at IU, his research has received more than $18 million in external grant funding-an extraordinary figure for a social scientist. His research has been supported by most major grant agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Social Science Research Council. His publication record reflects his remarkable productivity, with seven books and monographs, 12 edited and co-edited volumes, and 144 research articles to his credit. He has also served on the editorial boards of 16 national and international journals and presses. Moran has received numerous awards and honors. In 1985, he was elected as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1989, and in 1999 was elected as a Linnean Society of London Fellow. Most recently, in 2002, he received the prestigious Robert McC. Netting Award from the American Association of Geographers in recognition of his work to bridge geography and anthropology. He is also a Fellow of the American Anthropological Association and the Society for Applied Anthropology. Despite the demands of his intense research agenda, Moran has remained committed to educating the scholars of the future. He has established two internationally recognized research centers on the IU Bloomington campus, both of which he directs: the Anthropological Center for Training and Research on Global Environmental Change (ACT) and the Center for the Study of Institutions, Population, and Environmental Change (CIPEC). The centers, which are funded through external grants, serve as training grounds for young researchers studying global environmental change. "Emilio Moran is more than an outstanding scholar. He is an institution builder and educational leader," says Gary D. Libecap, Donald Bren Distinguished Professor of Corporate Environmental Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara. "In a time of concern about global environmental change, he is bringing new insights and approaches for our understanding of the processes involved, the adaptations required, and ways in which societies can mitigate harmful effects." His colleagues who formed the committee nominating him for distinguished rank summed up his talents: ". . . it is his ability to successfully blend analytical constructs across spatial science, population studies, ecological and environmental studies, as well as anthropological perspectives and empiricism that makes his contributions to knowledge so profound and important." [Indiana University press release, March 2007]

Published March 27, 2007

Dr. Moran has published over 200 articles over the course of his career. Please refer to his CV for detailed listings. Listings for selected books, monographs, and edited volumes can be found below.

If you're interested in browsing his published works, click here to access a list of Dr. Moran's books available at


Books and Monographs

  • 2010 Environmental Social Science: Human-Environment Interactions and Sustainability. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell Publishers.

    Portuguese Edition, Meio Ambiente e Ciencias Sociais. Sao Paulo: Editora SENAC, and Editora da Universidade de Sao Paulo, 2011

  • 2010 Meio Ambiente e Florestas. Sao Paulo: Editora SENAC

  • 2007 Human Adaptability: An Introduction to Ecological Anthropology, 3rd edition. Boulder: Westview Press.

    2008 Portuguese edition, Editora da Universidade de São Paulo and Editôra SENAC, Brazil

  • 2006 People and Nature: An Introduction to Human Ecological Relations. Oxford, UK.:Blackwell Publishers

    Portuguese Edition, 2008, Editora SENAC, São Paulo, Brazil.

  • 2000 Human Adaptability: An Introduction to Ecological Anthropology. 2nd edition. Boulder: Westview Press.

  • 1993 Through Amazonian Eyes: The Human Ecology of Amazonian Populations. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1993.

    Spanish edition, 1993, Fondo de Cultura Económica, Mexico City.

    Portuguese edition, 1990, Editôra Vozes, Petrópólis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

  • 1981 Developing the Amazon. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

  • 1979 Human Adaptability: An Introduction to Ecological Anthropology. N. Scituate: Duxbury Press.

    Reissued in 1982 by Westview Press.

    Portuguese revised edition, Editôra da Universidade de São Paulo, 1994.

  • 1976 Agricultural Development in the Transamazon Highway. Bloomington: Indiana University Latin American Studies Center.

  • 1973 Rui e a Abolicão. Rio de Janeiro: Ministerio da Educacão e Cultura.


Edited Volumes

  • 2012 Human-Environment Interactions: Current and Future Directions. Dordrecht: Springer (co-edited with Eduardo Brondizio)

  • 2008 Geoinformática e Monitoramento Ambiental na America Latina. São Paulo: Editora SENAC (co-edited with M. Batistella)

  • 2008 Amazônia: Natureza e Sociedade em Transformação. São Paulo: Editora da Universidade de São Paulo (EDUSP). (co-edited with M. Batistella and D. Alves)

  • 2005 Seeing the Forest and the Trees: Human Environment Interactions in Forest Ecosystems. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (co-edited with E. Ostrom).

    Portuguese Edition, 2008, Editôra da Univ. De São Paulo and Editora SENAC, Brazil.

  • 2004 Land Change Science: Observing, Monitoring and Understanding Trajectories of Change on the Earth's Surface. Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Kluwer. (co-edited with G. Gutman; A.C. Janetos; C.O. Justice; J.F. Mustard; R.R. Rindfuss; D. Skole, D.; B.L. Turner II; M.A. Cochrane)

  • 2001 Meeting in the Middle: The Challenge of Meso-Level Integration. LUCC Report Series No. 5. Focus 1 Office, LUCC (co-edited with W. McConnell)

  • 1998 People and Pixels: Linking Remote Sensing and Social Science. Washington DC: National Academy Press. (co-edited with D. Liverman, R. Rindfuss and P. Stern)

  • 1996 Transforming Societies, Transforming Anthropology. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

  • 1995 The Comparative Analysis of Human Societies: Toward Common Standards for Data Collection and Reporting. Boulder: L. Rienner Publ.

  • 1990 The Ecosystem Approach in Anthropology: From Concept to Practice. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

  • 1984a The Ecosystem Concept in Anthropology. Washington, DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science. Selected Symposium No. 92.

  • 1984b Human Ecology in the Amazon, Special Issue of Interciencia. Pergamon Press. Vol. 9, No. 6, pp. 341-424. (co-edited with R. Herrera.)

  • 1983 The Dilemma of Amazonian Development. Boulder: Westview Press.

  • 1979a Changing Agricultural Systems in Latin America.. Publication Number 7 from Studies in Third World Societies. College of William and Mary.

  • 1979b Changing Agricultural Systems in Africa. Publication Number 8 from Studies in Third World Societies. College of William and Mary.


Downloadable Journal Articles and Selected Book Chapters


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