Grant is an environmental economist and data scientist. He uses a mix of empirical tools and computational approaches in his research, ranging from traditional econometrics to Bayesian methods to machine learning. Much of his current work is focused on using remote sensing and other big data products to address environmental policy questions. A rewarding aspect of this work is that it tends to be very interdisciplinary in nature. In addition to specialized economics journals, his collaborations with colleagues in other fields have thus yielded publications in various general interest journals such as Science and PNAS.
At the UO, Grant teaches two data science classes, which take students from the basics of data handling and project management, through to advanced topics such as distributed databases and cloud computation. As a keen advocate of open-source tools and scientific reproducibility, links to all lecture material and code can be found on his website.
Together with his colleagues, Ed Rubin and Eric Zou, he is also a coorganizer of TWEEDS (The Workshop in Environmental Economics and Data Science).
3D plot of global fishing activity by Grant McDermott