The Skunkworks lab for Risk and Decision Research at Michigan State University is a small research unit staffed by faculty and graduate students. Work in the lab is – for the most part – concentrated on environmental issues with a particular focus on policy and decision making under conditions of risk and uncertainty. The overarching goals of the research conducted in the lab are twofold. On the one hand, we aim to forge a better understanding of how people – including various stakeholders, technical experts, and policy makers – instinctively make decisions about a wide variety of environmental and related risks. On the other, we are interested in developing and testing approaches through which we can improve people’s decision making capabilities. By its very nature, research conducted in support of these goals is interdisciplinary and requires the development of tight links between both theory and practical application.

In the spirit of other Skunkworks laboratories, we are particularly interested in pursuing research projects that foster innovation by pushing the boundaries of our understanding. If an unsubstantiated claim is made, we want to test it. If an accepted norm is doubted, we want to investigate it. And in doing so, we strive to make wise use of limited resources; in this small, high energy lab, researchers work in teams and research funding is stretched to its limits.

The Skunkworks Lab is located within the
Department of Community, Agriculture, Resource and Recreation Studies (CARRS) at the Michigan State University. The lab is also closely affiliated with the Environmental Science and Policy Program, the Center for the Advanced Study of International Development, and the Cognitive Science Program at MSU.