Welcome to the Conservation Governance Lab in the College of Forestry, Wildlife, and Environment at Auburn University. Please click around and explore our pages to see the research that we’re doing to improve global environmental policy and conservation governance. War Eagle!


The Conservation Governance Lab is directed by Dr. Kelly Heber Dunning. Dunning holds a PhD in Natural Resources and Environmental Policy from MIT, an MSc from Oxford in Environmental Policy, and a BA From the University of Florida. Dunning has worked in Southeast Asia, the Congo Basin, the United Kingdom, the Gulf of Mexico, and currently studying environmental policy and the collaborative management of natural resources.

Lab Mission

The Conservation Governance Lab seeks to answer several questions:

1) How is environmental policy made?

2) Who makes environmental policy and why?

3) How does environmental policy impact stakeholders and communities?

4) What makes environmental policy effective?

We are committed to providing a safe and positive environment for all of its members in their research endeavors. As team members, we trust each other to foster integrity and commitment towards all of our personal and professional goals.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The Conservation Governance Lab is equally committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Innovation and creative problem solving comes from individuals of different races, ethnicities, genders, disability, statuses, nationalities, religious affiliations, sexual orientations and socioeconomic backgrounds working together. It is only by stepping out of our comfort zone that we are able to better understand the skills we each embody and utilize our shared experiences to voice unique perspectives.  The Conservation Governance Lab is committed to inclusiveness and providing opportunities that will assist students in having a global impact. We aim to fulfill our mission of cultivating culturally competent policy experts by attracting, developing, and retaining the best and brightest individuals from a diversity of backgrounds.


Job opportunity: We are currently recruiting for two MS student vacancies, one on human dimensions of bottlenose dolphins one on human dimensions of sea turtles. Apply by October 31.

Job opportunity: We are currently recruiting for two PhD student vacancies, one on Gulf of Mexico climate resilience focused on oyster fisheries and one focused on climate resilience in Florida and Texas marine sanctuaries. Apply by September 30.

To learn more, head over to our announcements page!


Peer Reviewed Publication

  • Bailey, S., Dunning, K. H., Morris, D., & Williamson, R. D. (2022). How narratives shape policy: Lessons learned from port projects adjacent to coral reefs in Florida and the Cayman Islands. Marine Policy, 144, 105233. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2022.105233

  • Wally, K., Williamson, R. D., & Dunning, K. H. (2022). Coral Reefs and Climate Change: Examining Two Institutional Approaches to Managing a Novel Marine Ecosystem (SSRN Scholarly Paper No. 4116010). https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4116010

  • Johnson, G., Alva, A., & Dunning, K.H. (2022). Vulnerable Nations and Communities: Accounting for those most dependent on the seas. In Routledge Handbook of Marine Governance and Global Environmental Change (1st ed., pp. 139-150). Routledge.

Publish Book Review

Kelly Dunning Google Scholar Page link.