Sun Zone Socioeconomic Specialist Hebin Lin blends natural and social sciences

A group of BLM Arizona leadership and Hebin Lin stand for a photo in front of two flags.
Hebin Lin with (from left to right) Arizona State Director Ray Suazo, Deputy State Director for Communication Amber Cargile, and Deputy State Director for Resources and Planning Jerry Davis in September 2022.

Did you know that the Bureau of Land Management has a socioeconomics program? During Women’s History Month, BLM Arizona is celebrating Dr. Hebin Lin, a socioeconomic specialist who powers this program in the Bureau of Land Management’s Sun Zone, which includes not just Arizona, but also New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. 

In her role, Hebin is a connector between natural resource sciences and social sciences. Trained in areas of environmental policy and ecological economics, Hebin came into this role with a variety of experience, including from a different continent. 

Before she came to the Bureau of Land Management, Hebin earned a Ph.D. from Kyoto University in Japan. Before that, she also completed a master’s program focused on environmental policy.  

“It was very interesting because the campus was in Hiroshima, and so that has a lot of history and culture. Many of my classmates were from Asian countries, African countries, mostly developing countries. This really provided me with an aspect of understanding about cultural values. I moved to Kyoto to do my doctoral study on global ecological economics.” 

Overall, she spent 11 years in Japan and worked on a variety of projects, including a project with the United Nations and a number of international projects and training programs. Through these projects, she collaborated with foresters, engineers, scientists, policymakers, and local community leaders, bridging the divide between natural and social sciences. 

Beyond her work in Japan, Hebin has also served as an economist for the state of Missouri, as a revenue forecaster for the state of Washington, and as an economic and impact evaluator for the University of Leeds in England. 

Her experiences and skillset transitioned incredibly well into her role as socioeconomic specialist at the BLM. 

“These experiences really broadened my perspective on how to work on real issues on the ground, especially for environmental protection and climate change. And so, it was natural that BLM was attractive to me,” she said.

From left to right: BLM New Mexico Branch Chief for Planning, Recreation, and Cultural Resources Glenn Simpson, Hebin, New Mexico Deputy State Director for Lands and Resources Laura Hronec, and New Mexico State Director Melanie Barnes.
From left to right: Bureau of Land Management New Mexico Branch Chief for Planning, Recreation, and Cultural Resources Glenn Simpson, Hebin Lin, New Mexico Deputy State Director for Lands and Resources Laura Hronec, and New Mexico State Director Melanie Barnes.

On a daily basis, she is working hand-in-hand with an interdisciplinary team of field staff across the BLM and the public to understand the different needs and impacts of the BLM’s decision-making, incorporating a wide range of quantitative and qualitative data.  

“Only through collaboration can we really make progress,” she said. 

A priority of the socioeconomic program is ensuring that environmental justice is incorporated into this process.  

“Through environmental justice, we consider impacts on different people groups, like minority groups, low-income people, and Tribes,” she said. The socioeconomics program has developed a variety of tools to help BLM staff across disciplines account for diverse groups of people in their decision making and outreach to communities across the state. 

Her knowledge of socioeconomics is a great asset to BLM Arizona and other states. 

“Since joining BLM Hebin has really dived into learning our programs, the resources we manage, and the unique challenges that BLM faces.” 

During her time at the BLM, she has had the opportunity to go field visits, including to Yuma, Lake Havasu, Kingman, Tucson, Safford, Hassayampa field offices and the Arizona State Office.

A group of people in front of a cliff face.
Hebin Lin with a group of Bureau of Land Management staff in the Gila District.

“Any time I visit any office in Arizona, I always feel so welcomed,” she said. “I am a part of the staff, but I don’t have many opportunities to be here in person. Everyone I meet when I am here is always so kind, so inspiring. It is really encouragement.”

Hebin also took part in the BLM Arizona-New Mexico mentorship program, where BLM Arizona Deputy State Director for Communications Amber Cargile mentored her. 

“Amber has inspired me in so many ways, especially not only in how to communicate well in the technical aspects but to be able to express myself in a way that other people can understand,” Lin said. “I really admire that.” 

"It was a pleasure serving as Hebin’s mentor,” Cargile said. “She is an impressive woman who has dedicated her life to knowledge, growth, and self-improvement. I was truly inspired by her personal story and her example — and am proud to be her colleague and friend.” 

People like Hebin Lin are our greatest resource at the BLM, helping us fulfill our mission to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

Michelle Ailport, Public Affairs Specialist

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