Karena Yan ’23


Operations Research and Financial Engineering

Project Title

Modeling Farmer Decision-making Frameworks: Impacts on Adaptation and Policy Outcomes in Nepal

Presentation Link

View Karena's Presentation

Certificate(s): Environmental Studies

Climate change is expected to significantly threaten the crop yields of small-holder farmers. Adaptation may require changes in livelihood strategy, such as migrating or investing in cash crops. I applied an agent-based model (ABM) to simulate a South Asian agricultural community’s adaptation to climate change under different decision-making frameworks. I built three alternate frameworks into the ABM that drew from theories in decision-making psychology — imitation, satisficing and habitual learning — and tested them under differing degrees of climate change. My results showed that livelihood choices and community outcomes differed substantially depending on how the farmer decision-making process was modeled. Furthermore, I found that policy recommendations that were effective in increasing average community income and reducing inequality in the original version of the ABM were not robust under all decision-making frameworks. Practically, this suggests that developing effective policies requires an understanding of how target populations generally make decisions. I learned a great deal about the challenges and opportunities of ABM, and I explored new fields in psychology and sociology. My work piqued my interest in socio-environmental systems modeling and the various intersections of social sciences and environmental issues.

Internship Year


Project Category

Climate and Environmental Science


Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment (C-PREE), School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University


Michael Oppenheimer, Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs and the High Meadows Environmental Institute; Nicolas Choquette-Levy, Ph.D. candidate, Princeton School of Public and International Affairs