Hi! I am a PhD Candidate in Eric Lambin's Land Change Lab and I'm interested in policies and governance mechanisms of land use. More specifically, I investigate if and how certain governance approaches can help to reduce the negative impacts of land use in the tropics while encouraging sustainable and fair use of natural resources. To address my research questions, I use multiple methods, including literature and document review, remote sensing, and modeling.

Education & Certifications

  • MS, Imperial College London, Conservation Science (2016)
  • MS, Lund University, Environmental Studies & Sustainability Science (2015)
  • BA, FOM University of Applied Sciences for Economics and Management, International Management (2011)

Stanford Advisors

Service, Volunteer and Community Work

  • Co-Chair, Student-invited speaker committee (June 2019 - Present)


    Stanford, USA

Personal Interests

In my free time, I love to explore California's natural side through cycling, hiking, climbing, and backpacking. I always try to carry my camera to capture all the amazing sunsets, starry skies, landscapes, and critters out there (I have a sweet spot for all reptiles and amphibians). I also love a good book, listen to and play music, and make home made kombucha and sourdough bread.

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

My research focuses on jurisdictional approaches to sustainable resource use - a type of governance approach that has emerged over the past decade and is increasingly promoted by a range of stakeholders and implemented globally. Specifically, I am interested in what jurisdictional approaches are from a conceptual point of view and how they differ from alternative approaches to sustainable resource use. Further, I want to explore if jurisdictional approaches can be effective in achieving positive environmental and social outcomes and what factors determine their success. For this, I am developing an agent-based model that allows us to investigate the mechanisms and variables of jurisdictional approaches.

Lab Affiliations

Work Experience

  • Standards Manager, High Conservation Value Resource Network (6/1/2017 - 6/1/2018)


    London, UK

  • Project Manager, Siemens AG (10/1/2011 - 7/1/2013)


    Cologne, Germany

All Publications

  • Valuing and mapping cork and carbon across land use scenarios in a Portuguese montado landscape PLOS ONE von Essen, M., do Rosario, I. T., Santos-Reis, M., Nicholas, K. A. 2019; 14 (3): e0212174


    The ecosystem services approach can inform decision-making by accounting for both short- and long-term benefits from different land use options. Here we used the InVEST toolkit to quantify and map key ecosystem services at the largest publicly-owned agro-silvo-pastoral farmstead in Portugal-a site representative for the montado landscape. We analyzed how Provisioning (cork production) and Regulating & Maintenance (carbon storage and sequestration) services would be affected under three land use change scenarios, which were developed in collaboration with the forest manager of the study area: Cattle Intensification, Forest Improvement, and Residential Development. Results show that increasing cattle or residential development would deliver substantially lower levels of services. We find that extensive management, improvements to forest quality, and promotion of traditional livestock grazing would provide the highest levels of assessed ecosystem services, resulting in 13.5% more carbon storage (worth between $0.34-$7.79 million USD depending on carbon price) and 62.7% more cork production (total value of USD $3.5 million) than the current land use. However, a shift in economic incentives to make sustainable cork harvesting and traditional low-density grazing of smaller ruminants like sheep and goats profitable are likely needed to reward traditional land stewardship and help support this iconic Mediterranean landscape in the future.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0212174

    View details for Web of Science ID 000460638800012

    View details for PubMedID 30845222