Gregory Poe, expert in environmental economics, dies at 56

Greg Poe

Gregory Poe, professor of applied economics and management, died unexpectedly March 11 at his home in Ithaca. He was 56.

Poe, who joined the Cornell faculty in 1993, taught environmental and resource economics in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management.

His research and outreach program focused on applied welfare economics, nonmarket valuation, experimental economics and water pollution policy.

Poe developed improved measures of hypothetical and actual demand for public environmental goods, such as water. He conducted field research on the design of incentive programs for reducing emissions from nonpoint and point sources and frequently addressed issues related to water quality policy. Most recently his work took him to Peru and Myanmar.

An active peer reviewer of scholarly work in numerous journals, Poe was editor of Resource and Energy Economics.

For many years, Poe was part of the executive management team of the Dyson School, and he served as the area coordinator for the Applied Economics and Policy Area of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.

“Greg was a trusted colleague to all and played an essential role in Dyson School and college leadership,” said Edward McLaughlin, the David J. Nolan Interim Dean at Dyson.

“But, importantly, Greg was a cherished friend to all. He loved human interaction and had a gift for asking the often uncomfortable but always pertinent question,” McLaughlin added. “His wry, frequently irreverent humor was one of the much anticipated and greatly appreciated features of Dyson faculty meetings.”

Poe was also a devoted teacher and cared deeply about his students, said his colleague Shanjun Li, associate professor of applied economics and management. Although Poe had teaching assistants for courses such as the large undergraduate course, An Introduction to the Economics of Environmental and Natural Resources, that he had been teaching this semester, he insisted on grading the exams himself. And he held extra office hours before exams, Li said.

“When I asked him why he spent so much time on teaching, he said that we have an obligation to provide the best instruction we can, and that is how he wanted his two college-age sons to be treated by their professors,” Li said. “Greg had a great sense of humor and was deeply loved by our colleagues in Dyson.”

Poe was born Oct. 31, 1960, in Memphis, Tennessee. He grew up in Southern California, where he became an avid surfer. In 1982, he traveled to Nepal and studied there with Experiment in International Living. A year later, he earned a Bachelor of Arts with distinction in economics at Pomona College. He joined the U.S. Peace Corps and served 1983-86 as a fisheries adviser in Cameroon. Poe continued his education at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he earned a master’s degree in science in 1988 and a Ph.D. in natural resource economics in 1993.

Poe is survived by his wife, Ann, and two sons. Calling hours will be held Friday, March 17, 4-6 p.m. at Bangs Funeral Home in Ithaca.

Donations in Poe’s name can be made to WSKG, National Public Radio or the Surfrider Foundation.

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John Carberry