University of Florida
Ray Huffaker

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Ray Huffaker

E-mail
281 Frazier Rogers Hall
P.O. Box 110570
Gainesville, FL 32611-0570
(352) 392-1864 ext.281 fax: (352) 392-4092

Ray Huffaker is a natural resource economist (Ph.D., UC Davis) specializing in bioeconomic and hydrologic modeling, and a legal scholar (J.D., UC Davis) specializing in natural resource and environmental law. 

Huffaker is interested in understanding feedback between economic activities and ecosystem resources, and investigating management policies that protect the long-term viability of both.  He came to this interest growing up as an avid outdoorsman enjoying the mountains, rivers, and coastal areas of Northern California.   He observed how ecosystems provide life-essential services including potable water, nourishing food, and healthy living environments; and furnish vital productive resources to the economic activities humans undertake to make livings and to enjoy recreation.  As an undergraduate, he majored in natural resource economics to understand economic use of ecosystem resources.  During this time, he attended a bioeconomics seminar that impressed him with the power of dynamic-systems modeling to explain interaction between economic decisions and ecosystem dynamics, and to suggest policies promoting sustainable management practices.  Subsequently, he pursued a doctoral degree specializing in bioeconomic modeling.  He realized that his keen interest in extending modeling results to real-world policy would be advanced with legal training.  Consequently, he concluded his training with a law degree specializing in water, environmental, and natural resource law and policy. 

Huffaker has studied a wide variety of resource uses and human-ecosystem interactions.  In water, he investigated agricultural water conservation policies subsidizing farmers to improve on-farm irrigation efficiency, and demonstrated the hidden potential for these subsidies to unintentionally reduce basin-wide water supplies to the detriment of downstream irrigators, fish, and in-stream ecology.  He also studied optimal removal of reservoir sediments to restore valuable water-storage capacity for agricultural, industrial, and municipal uses; and the legal potential for various types of specialized water transactions to allocate more water to instream uses during critical flow periods.  In invasive species management, Huffaker derived optimal animal stocking policies to control invasive weeds on grazing land by embedding plant competition dynamics into an economic grazing problem.  In pest management, he collaborated with entomologists to develop a potato spraying schedule for green peach aphids vectoring potato leaf-roll virus to economize on the application of an environmentally damaging pesticide.  This required integration of a dynamic model of vector-virus-host interactions into an economic crop production model.  He also studied optimal management of pest resistance to pesticidal crops by integrating dynamics of pest growth and population genetics into an economic crop production model.  In agroecology, Huffaker studied optimal management of low-input dairies with a dynamic systems model synchronizing pasture forage dynamics with herd and lactation dynamics of dairy cows.  In wildlife management, he investigated the optimal management of transboundary damage caused by a dispersive wildlife population given alternative interrelationships among neighboring landowners (i.e., unilateral management, cooperative management, and competitive game-playing strategies).  The work embedded a dynamic dispersion component adapted from the ‘social fence hypothesis’ into an economic framework, and demonstrated that it may pay landowners to incur the damage from an optimally determined number of resident wildlife that can exert ‘inter-group’ aggression against possible future migrants. 

In all of this work, Huffaker has endeavored to expand the capabilities of bioeconomic models to incorporate more complex hydrologic and ecosystem dynamics by adopting cutting-edge mathematical modeling techniques.  These have included distributed-parameter and multidimensional optimal control methods to model spatial-temporal dynamics, and singular-perturbation methods to reduce the solution space of multidimensional optimal control models and account for state variables evolving at widely disparate time scales.

Huffaker firmly believes that model builders must become thoroughly acquainted with available data to construct informative models that successfully simulate complex real-world behavior.  There is growing concern that models used in public decision-making fail to capture complex real-world dynamics exhibited by observed data.  For example, Congress recently held a special hearing to investigate why conventional macroeconomic models developed with federal funding failed to anticipate the current financial crisis.  Fortunately, the last few decades have seen substantial advances in data diagnostic techniques that can guide construction and testing of theory-based models.  Huffaker’s current research focuses on applying these techniques to detect low-dimensional nonlinear deterministic structure in economic and biophysical time-sequenced data that can be used to construct hydrologic and bioeconomic models whose simulated dynamics match real-world complexity.  He has applied these techniques to study the community dynamics of administrators, faculty, and students in a “university ecosystem”.   He also has studied how U.S. beef consumption dynamics responded to health scares over E. coli, cholesterol, and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (‘mad cow disease’).  He is currently using data diagnostic techniques to formulate a procedure for matching dynamic patterns of wind power supply and demand in wind-project evaluation.

Huffaker thoroughly enjoys working with students.  His teaching experience includes doctoral courses in data diagnostics, mathematical optimization techniques, economic dynamics, and micro- and macroeconomic anlaysis; and undergraduate courses in natural resource economics and environmental law.  He developed and leads an annual study abroad program for undergraduates entitled “UF in Florence Italy:  Global Environmental Issues.”   He has mentored several research projects for students at all levels.

Huffaker’s outside interests include golf, tennis, skiing, Italian language and literature, poetry, and music. 

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Professor

Dr. Huffaker specializes in bioeconomic modeling of water and other ecosystem resources, economic dynamics, nonlinear time series analysis, and natural resource and environmental law.

Teaching

Education

  • Ph.D. Agricultural Economics, University of California, Davis, 1983
  • J.D. University of California, Davis, School of Law, 1986
  • A.B. Economics and Italian, University of California, Davis, 1978

Professional Experience

  • 2013-present Professor, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Florida.
  • 2008-2013 Professor and Chair, Food and Resource Economics, University of Florida.
  • 2000-2008 Professor, School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University.
  • 2006-2008 Participating faculty, Interdisciplinary Training of Undergraduates in Biological and Mathematical Sciences http://www.ubm.wsu.edu/participatingfaculty.html
  • 1993-2000 Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Washington State University.
  • 1990-1993 Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Washington State University.
  • 1990-2008 Adjunct Professor, Department of Natural Resource Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman.
  • 1990-2008 Graduate Faculty, Environmental Science and Regional Planning Program, Washington State University.
  • 1987-1990 Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
  • 1984-1986 Lecturer and Post-Doctoral Researcher, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of California, Davis.
  • 1975-1978 Parole Aid and Northern California Drug Abuse Coordinator, California Youth Authority.

Awards and Honors

  • Senior Visiting Fellowship, Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Bologna, Summer 2011
  • Computational Science Award in Undergraduate Teaching, Ames Laboratory, United States Department of Energy, 1994.
  • Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, University of California, Davis.

Other Professional Activities

  • Editorial Board, Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research, 2009 to present.
  • Editorial Board, Letters in Spatial and Resource Sciences, 2010 to present.