Dr. Beck is Professor and Coordinator of Environmental Science and Policy and former Director of the Professional Science Master's in Environmental Management and Sustainability

Dr. Beck's research and teaching interests focus on policies that integrate environment and development goals, conservation incentives and campus sustainability.   In 2019 he and colleague Dr. Michael Wasserman of Indiana University received their second $300,000 National Science Foundation grant integrating ecological and social research methods to examine how effectively economic incentives encourage landowners to maintain tropical forest fragments and assessing the extent that these fragments maintain ecosystem services.  Over the next three years, this grant will fund 15 student research projects in Costa Rica, Panama and Uganda.  He teaches a variety of environmental policy courses, including Introduction to Sustainability, Sustainable Austin, Environmental Politics and Policy, Sustainable Development in Costa Rica, Communities and Wildlife Management in Africa and also teaches Survey of Africa for Global Studies majors.   He has led five student groups to Costa Rica with the EcoLead program and has taught field courses for undergraduates in France, Chile and South Africa and for graduate students in Costa Rica.  He serves as a delegate to the Organization of Tropical Studies in Costa Rica and is a member of the Wild Basin Advisory Board.   Prior to joining St. Edward's University, he spent five years working in Kenya and Uganda, and has been a consultant on African environmental conservation with the World Wildlife Fund and the World Bank.  He is active in several local environmental organizations and interests include most outdoor activities including hiking, biking, birding and tennis.


Ph.D., Indiana University 2000

M.A. Yale University 1992

A.B. Occidental College 1986

External Grants

Active Grants

Wasserman, M. (PI) and P. Beck. 2019-2021. Comparing the Influence of Economic Incentives and Land Use Patterns on the Conservation of Tropical Forests and Primates in Panama, Costa Rica and Uganda. NSF International Research Experience for Students Program. Funded $300,000.

Previously Awarded Grants

Wasserman, M. and P. Beck (PI). 2016-2018. Assessing the Effects of Land Use Patterns on Forest Condition and Primates in Costa Rica. NSF International Research Experience for Students Program. Funded $250,000.

Publications & Articles


Recent Publications

Johnson, C., Beck, P., Concilio, A., White, K., Quiros, R. and M. Wasserman.  2021.  National parks are essential to Costa Rica’s conservation strategy portfolio as indicated by forest characteristics.  In review, Conservation Biology.

Tafoya, K., Brondizio, E., Johnson, C., Beck, P., Wallace, M., Quiros, R. and M. Wasserman.  2020.  Effectiveness of Costa Rica's conservation portfolio to lower deforestation, protect primates, and increase community participation.  Frontiers in Environmental Science. 

Beck, P., Quiros, R., Johnson, C. and M. Wasserman.  2019.  Biological research stations as central nodes in promoting North-South collaborative networks for teaching and research.  Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability.  39: 31-38



Recent Academic Presentations

P. Beck, K. Tafoya, E. Johnson, R. Quiros and MD Wasserman.  2021.  Do Economic Incentives Conserve Tropical Forests?  Paper presented at the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences Annual Meeting.  Virtual.

P. Beck, R. Quiros, E. Johnson and M. Wasserman.  2020.  Assessing the effectiveness of landowner incentives to conserve tropical forest fragments and the ability of the fragments to maintain ecosystem services in Costa Rica.   Paper presented at the 5th North American Congress for Conservation Biology.  Virtual. 

P. Beck.  2019.  Incorporating high impact practices into short and longer term study abroad experiences for environmental and sustainability education in Costa Rica.  Paper presented at the Consortium for Agro-Ecological Research and Education in Sustainability in the 21st Century Symposium.  Alajuela, Costa Rica.

P. Beck, M.D. Wasserman, K. Alfaro, R. Flores, E. Johnson, T. Johnson, S. Mattecheck, A. Kropf, T. Steiniche, M. Wallace, A. Hall, A. de la Rosa, A. Webb, and A. Iruri-Tucker. 2018. Measuring the effectiveness of landowner incentives at ecosystem service provision across forest fragments in Costa Rica. Paper presented at 4th North American Congress for Conservation Biology. Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

M.D. Wasserman, P. Beck, T. Steiniche, E. Johnson, A. Kropf, S. Mattecheck, T. Johnson, R.Quiros Flores, K. Alfaro González, M. Venier. 2017. Assessing the effects of conservation incentives on primates across forest fragments in Costa Rica.  Paper presented at the International Congress for Conservation Biology. Cartagena, Colombia.

 P. Beck and R. Cornue.  2017.  Loving them and loathing them: Conflicting Attitudes Towards Deer Management Alternatives in Central Texas.  2017.  Paper presented at the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences Annual Conference, Tucson, AZ.



Department Group

School Group

School of Behavioral and Social Sciences