Maria Claudia is an economist specializing in natural resources management, environmental economics, experimental economics and collective action with master's in rural development from the Universidad Javeriana in Colombia, her home country, and a PhD in Resource Economics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University. Her research seeks to understand how rural communities can collaborate successfully in the management of commonly held natural resources. She has done research in Colombia, Spain, Peru, Costa Rica, USA, Bolivia and Uganda. Before coming to MSU she was a Research Associate in the Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado Boulder where she worked on a project aiming to understand how knowledge about how human decision-making affects and is affected by changing forest conditions.