Dr. Megan Lawson uses economic and statistical analysis to better understand the issues that communities face such as the economic potential and impacts of housing and land use policies, outdoor recreation, economic diversification, and public land management.

Megan is nationally known for her expertise in measuring the economic and community impacts of outdoor recreation and the potential of recreation activities to support local jobs and income. She leads collaborative projects across the United States pioneering new methods for estimating where and when people are recreating on public lands. Her innovative approach to measuring trail use is improving the ability of land managers to meet the increasing demand for healthy, outdoor recreation opportunities.

Equal parts scientist and communicator, Megan uses data to conduct actionable research that illuminates solutions. She applies analytical skills to land use, natural resource, and public health topics, with an emphasis on the unique needs and opportunities for rural communities. In every project, Megan builds trust through good listening and observational skills and her commitment to understanding communities’ needs and priorities.

A sought-after speaker, Megan talks about her research and economic concepts with a range of audiences, frequently speaking to community leaders, collaborative groups, land management agencies, and business groups. She is regularly quoted by major media outlets and has been interviewed multiple times on public radio, including on NPR’s Marketplace and All Things Considered. She was awarded a Wilburforce Fellowship in Conservation Science in 2016. Megan elevates Headwaters Economics’ work through her exceptional objectivity, her commitment to seeing issues from all sides, and her ability to cut through noise. Her degrees in economics and biology, with an emphasis on environmental, public, and urban economics, provide the foundation for her interdisciplinary approach. Megan has contributed to many of Headwaters Economics’ foundational research projects on topics ranging from land use conversion to migration trends.