Ryan Calder

Assistant Professor of Environmental Health and Policy, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Chapter Member: Virginia SSN
Areas of Expertise:

About Ryan

Calder's research focuses on health and environmental impacts of energy and civil infrastructure interventions. Calder is particularly interested in developing methods to guide individual and policy decisions to manage risks to water resources and food systems. Calder's work creates quantitative models of coupled social-environmental systems with phenomena that span traditional academic disciplines. Beyond academic research, Calder has developed decision support tools for diverse entities such as the Province of Newfoundland & Labrador and the United States Army.

In the News

Opinion: "DC’s Traffic-Safety Policies Have Broken Down. Here’s How.," Ryan Calder, Greater Washington, June 21, 2023.


"Forecasting Ecosystem Services to Guide Coastal Wetland Rehabiliation Decisions" (with Congjie Shi, Sara A. Mason, Lydia P. Olander, and Mark E. Borsuk). Ecosystem Services 39 (2019).

Finds nature-based adaptations to climate change are increasingly popular because they offer benefits not provided by dikes and levees (e.g., wetlands serve as ecological niches). Finds, however, decision-making around these environments is complicated because benefits accrue over different timescales and to different parties. Provides a framework to forecast and actualize uncertain future benefits and guide decision-making.

"Risk Tradeoffs Associated with Traditional Food Advisories for Labrador Inuit" (with Sabri Bromage and Elsie M. Sunderland). Environmental Research 168 (January 2019): 496-506.

Notes food consumption advisories are a common policy response to control exposures to organic contaminants (such as mercury in fish). Finds that such advisories are likely to create, on average, more risks than they avoid in the context of mercury exposures from hydroelectric development among the Labrador Inuit.

"Decentralised Drinking Water Regulation: Risks, Benefits and the Hunt for Equality in the Canadian Context" (with Ketra A. Schmitt). International Journal of Water 9, no. 2 (2015): 178-193.

Describes decentralized (Canada) vs. centralized/federal (United States) drinking water regulatory systems and evaluates risks and benefits for each. Places calls by Canadian environmental activists for a stronger federal role in drinking water regulation in the context of Canadian cultural factors.

"Future Impacts of Hydroelectric Power Development on Methylmercury Exposures of Canadian Indigenous Communities" (with Amina T. Schartup, Miling Li, Amelia P. Valberg, Prentiss H. Balcom, and Elsie M. Sunderland). Environmental Science & Technology 50, no. 23 (2016): 13115-13122.

Provides a transferable tool to estimate future maximum exposures to methylmercury resulting from hydroelectric development as a function of dietary characteristics, reservoir design and local conditions. Evaluates exposure risks among the Labrador Inuit in the context of local hydroelectric development.

"The Role of Detection Limits in Drinking Water Regulation" (with Ketra A. Schmitt). Environmental Science & Technology 44, no. 21 (2010): 8008-8014.

Investigates, in the context of drinking water, the common industry claim that environmental regulations are getting increasingly strict as a result of improved analytical ability. Finds no evidence to support this claim and chart the history of drinking water regulation and re-regulation in the United States alongside the history of detection ability.