Researcher Profile

Professional headshot of Sheila M. Olmstead

Sheila M. Olmstead

University Fellow

Topics of Interest

Sheila Olmstead is an associate professor of public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research focuses on natural resource management and pollution control, with a particular emphasis on water resource economics, including urban water demand management, market-based approaches to water conservation, drinking water quality regulation, access to drinking water among low-income populations, and the efficient allocation of water across sectors. Her recent work investigates the impacts of information disclosure on drinking water quality violations, regulatory avoidance under the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act, the influence of federal fire suppression policy on land development in the American West, and key components of a post-2012 international climate policy architecture. 
Olmstead’s research has been published in leading journals such as the Journal of Business and Economic Statistics, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Land Economics, Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Environmental Science and Technology, and Water Resources Research. With Nathaniel Keohane, she is the author of the 2007 book Markets and the Environment. Before coming to RFF in 2010, Olmstead was an Associate Professor (2007-2010) and Assistant Professor (2002-2007) of Environmental Economics at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where she taught courses in natural resource economics, water resource economics, and principles of microeconomics. 

Olmstead is in RFF’s Land, Water, and Nature Program.


PhD, Public Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 2002
MA in public affairs, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin, 1996
BA, Political and Social Thought, with High Distinction, University of Virginia, 1992

Recent Work

See all work by Sheila M. Olmstead