Professor Yadama’s work focuses on understanding the social and environmental challenges of rural poor in the regions of South Asia and China. His research examines the interconnection and interdependent nature of households and communities; there is a particular focus on solutions to improve the social, economic, environmental and health outcomes. Serving as a faculty scholar in Washington University’s Institute for Public Health, he's been able to conduct extensive community based research specifically in India, Nepal and China.
Dr. Yadama’s research in India focuses on understanding the livelihoods of natural resource dependent poor and ensuing strategies to achieve sustainability in their lives and resources. In collaboration with the Social Systems Design Lab at the Brown School and the Foundation for Ecological Security, he’s engaged in causal loop modeling with rural communities to elicit human and natural resource systems interactions to understand the drivers of sustainable social and ecological systems. Currently, he's involved in the implementation of two projects in India. One is a randomized control trial to study sustainability of new and efficient stove technologies in rural India. This is a transdisciplinary study involving aerosol, social and health sciences to understand the sustainability of efficient cookstoves to improve household air pollution, health and environmental outcomes. The second, "Studying Poverty, Agricultural Risks, and Coping Strategies (SPARCS)” is in collaboration with the University of Michigan, the Foundation for Ecological Security and the University of Illinois with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This study of 100 villages across 3,000 households evaluates environmental risk and coping strategies of rural poor.
In China, his research examines the underlying social processes driving coordination and collective action in rural communities; in particular, the way social norms guide these communities to act in the interest of common good to supply essential public goods. He has conducted similar studies on urban public goods in Kathmandu, while he was a Senior Fulbright Scholar in Nepal. In 2001, Dr. Yadama was one of the key architects of the Nepal Human Development Report for the United Nations Development Program. This report won a UN award for its contributions to advancing Millennium Development Goals. In Nepal, he was also the Principal Investigator for a USAID funded project on social policy and law in collaboration with the Nepal Law School to advance women’s wellbeing through advocacy.
Gautam Yadama is also the director of the Brown School’s International Programs. In this role, he helps train students to build new research and policy initiatives in order to foster greater participation of underserved populations throughout the world including in India, China, Thailand, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and the Republic of Georgia. He is the Washington University McDonnell International Scholar’s Academy Ambassador to the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India, and the Chulalongkorn University, Thailand.