Ph.D. Candidate • Public Policy and Methodology

Major Field: Public Policy

Minor Field: Methodology

Research interests: Natural resource governance dynamics & governance, public policy, forest policy, decentralization and democracy, leadership and representation in self-governance, policy evaluation, rural development, agricultural governance, land policy and land management, behavioral economics, experimental economics.

Research Experience: During my PhD, I was fortunate to receive a fellowship with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), where I worked as a field coordinator for their Global Comparative Study on REDD+ in Brazil. After collecting the data in 2018 and finishing the BACI design (before-after, control-intervention) of the project, I have been working collaboratively with the CIFOR team in the production of several papers assessing the impact of REDD+ interventions at the local level. Considering that REDD+ programs are often implemented in contexts of existing regulations, part of the effort has been to assess the interaction effects of government regulations, environmental registration (CAR) and REDD+ programs developed by NGOs.

On this same line of study, I have also had the opportunity to work in the project Amazonian Governance to Enable Transformations to Sustainability (Agents), a collaborative effort with the Centro Bartolome de las Casas (CBC) in Peru, funded under the auspices of Belmont Forum and NORFACE with support from several other funders including the NSF and NWO (Netherlands). Through online workshops with local NGOs in Madre de Dios, Peru, we intended to have a better understanding and identification of the most effective instruments used by implementing organizations to promote both adaptation and mitigation goals in the Amazon, which could be fundamental to promote a strong climate change agenda for policymakers.

Teaching InterestEnvironmental Policy, Comparative Environmental Policy, Impact Evaluation, Forest Policy, NGOs and Governance

Teaching Experience: 

During my teaching career at the University of Colorado Boulder, and before moving the United States, I have prepared and taught two courses respectively:

  • Environmental Policy, Fall 2019, Spring 2020
  • Microeconomics I, Fall 2011

I have also worked as a Teaching Assistant (TA), both during my time at the University of Colorado as well as before moving the United States, where I have taught sections of a professor’s class for the following distinct classes over a number of semesters:

  • Environmental Policy, Spring 2019
  • Quantitative Research Methods, Fall 2018, Spring 2018
  • Environment and Public Policy, Fall 2017
  • Introduction to Comparative Politics, Spring 2017
  • Environmental Management, MA Class, Fall 2011
  • Cooperation and Competition (Econ), Fall, 2010
  • Experimental Seminar of History, Spring 2010, Fall 2009
  • General Economic History, Spring 2010, Spring 2009, Fall 2009
  • Public Management, Spring 2007
  • Colombia and its Institutions, Fall 2006
  • Public Policy, Spring 2006, Fall 2005
  • Institutional Theory, Fall 2005

Dissertation Title: The Role of NGOs on Environmental Governance

Dissertation Committee: Krister Andersson (chair), Carew Boulding, Andy Baker, María Alejandra Vélez, Pete Newton

Dissertation Description: Adriana investigates the role that NGOs play in the governance process, especially at the subnational level, contributing to the design and implementation of policies that affect the forests and the communities living in them. She concentrates on the case of the Amazon region and the efforts being implemented to execute forest governance interventions there. In some cases, NGOs have worked alongside local governments to implement REDD+ oriented programs to improve the livelihood of communities while still protecting the forests. This research seeks to answer remaining questions regarding the governance dynamic between these different actors, such as how effective have the interventions executed by local NGOs been?, what role do NGO’s governance assistance play in the eyes of local communities and if/how has that influence affected their likelihood of compliance with regulatory policies?, do NGOs facilitate or hinder the cooperation within local policy networks? Answering these questions and recognizing that interventions happen as the result of the collective efforts of several actors at the local level, is of high relevance to the governance of forests across the globe today.

Expected Defense Date: May 2021


  • Molina Garzón, Adriana, Tara Grillos, Alan Zarychta & Krister Andersson. (2021). Can Decentralization Increase Social Capital among Bureaucrats? Evidence from Health Sector Reform in Honduras. American Journal of Political Science (AJPS).
  • Brondizio E., Andersson K., de Castro F., Futemma C., Salk C., Tengo M., Londres M., C.M. Tourne D., Gonz lez T., Molina-Garz n A., Russo G., and Siani S. (2021) Making place-based sustainability initiatives visible in the Brazilian Amazon. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability.
  • Andersson, K. P., Chang, K., & Molina-Garz n, A. (2020). Voluntary leadership and the emergence of institutions for self-governance. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(44), 27292-27299.
  • Pfaff, Alexander; Velez, Maria A.; Ramos, Pablo; Molina, Adriana (2015). Framed field experiment on resource scarcity & extraction: Path-dependent generosity within sequential water appropriation. Ecological Economics, 120 (2015) 416-429.


Papers Under Review:

  • “Enforcement and inequality in collective PES to reduce tropical deforestation: effectiveness, efficiency and equity implications”, Julia Naime, Arild Angelsen, Adriana Molina-Garzón, Cauê D. Carrilho, Vivi Selviana, Gabriela Demarchi, Amy E. Duchelle and Christopher Martius. Global Environmental Change, R&R


  • Humane Studies Fellowship 2020-2021. Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University.
  • Institute of Behavioral Science (IBS), 2021 Summer Research Award
  • Graduate Program of the Department of Political Science Large Grant Award, 2021
  • Fellowship Field Research Supervisor 2019-2020. Global Comparative Study on REDD+ Phase 3. Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
  • Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) at George Mason University, Hayek Fund for Scholars Award, 2020
  • 2020 Graduate School Summer Fellowship, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Institute of Behavioral Science (IBS), 2020 Summer Research Award
  • Graduate Program of the Department of Political Science Large Grant Dissertation Support Award, 2020
  • Institute of Behavioral Science (IBS), 2019 Summer Research Award
  • 2018 Qualifying Paper Prize (2nd place), University of Colorado Boulder
  • 2018 Beverly Sears Graduate Student Grant Award
  • Graduate Students in Political Science Paper Prize, Second Prize. 2018.
  • CARTSS 2017 Fellowship Research Award