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Michael Cary

Research Assistant Professor
Michael Cary
250 Drillfield Dr.
301 Hutcheson Hall

Michael Cary is a research assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. He is an environmental economist with a focus on air pollution, its consequences, and policy. Cary also works with the Virginia Cooperative Extension to improve the well-being of communities across the Commonwealth of Virginia.


Applied econometrics and economic analytics; environmental and natural resource economics; rural and regional economic development


  • Ph.D., Natural Resource Economics, West Virginia University, 2023
  • M.A., Economics, Virginia State University, 2014
  • B.A., History, Virginia Commonwealth University, 2011

Cary's appointment at Virginia Tech includes a strong Extension component. In previous roles, he has worked with Virginia Cooperative Extension and the U.S. Forest Service to build a MATLAB suite intended to support research on agroforestry decision-making, testing of crop characteristics that improve returns in agroforestry settings, evaluation of current policies and future policy options, and the assessment of potential changes in returns due to the effects of a changing climate.

Cary's research primarily lies within environmental economics and focuses on the economic consequences of air pollution and the effectiveness of policies designed to address air pollution. He commonly intertwines this with ideas and methods from urban and regional economics and creates and uses network theoretic methods in his research.

Beyond this, he is interested in gender and race and economics, and agroforestry economics.

Current projects include:

  • Road Network Structure and Air Pollution: Moving Beyond the Fundamental Law of Road Congestion
  • Climate policy can make trade more competitive: Evidence from the Kyoto Protocol and the global timber trade network
  • Air Pollution and Physical Productivity: Evidence from Ultramarathons
  • Economic, Environmental, and Technical Gains from the Kyoto Protocol: Evidence from Cement Manufacturing

Previous teaching experience: ARE 150 (West Virginia University) – Introductory Agricultural and Agribusiness Economics 


  • Research Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech, 2023-Present
  • Graduate Research and Teaching Assistant, Division of Resource Economics and Management, West Virginia University, 2019-2023
  • Data Scientist, WVU Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines, and Emissions, 2017-2019


  • 2022 Westarctica Conservation Scholarship for Best Ph.D. Dissertation

Select Peer-reviewed Journal Articles

  • Cary, Michael. "Core-periphery models via integer programming: Maximizing the influence of the core." Computational and Applied Mathematics 42.4 (2023): 162.
  • Cary, Michael, and Heather Stephens. "Gendered Consequences of COVID-19 Among Professional Tennis Players." Journal of Sports Economics 24.2 (2023): 241-266.
  • Haggerty, Treah, Stephens, H.M., Peckens, S.A., Bodkins, E., Cary, M., Dino, G.A., & Sedney, C.L. "Telemedicine versus in-person primary care: Impact on visit completion rate in a rural Appalachian population." The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine 35.3 (2022): 475-484.
  • Cary, Michael, and Festus Victor Bekun. "Democracy and deforestation: The role of spillover effects." Forest Policy and Economics 125 (2021): 102398.
  • Cary, Michael A., and Gregory E. Frey. "Alley cropping as an alternative under changing climate and risk scenarios: A Monte-Carlo simulation approach." Agricultural Systems 185 (2020): 102938.

Peer-reviewed US Forest Service Technical Reports

  • Frey, Gregory E., et al. "Agroforestry Land-use Economic Yield and Risk (ALLEY) Model 2.0: a computer suite to simulate and compare stochastic yield and returns of alley crop, monocrop, and pine plantation systems in the US." General Technical Report-Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service SRS-235 (2018).