With a long-term research focus in Nepal and the US Southwest, Milan's research focuses on how shared cultural knowledge and rules shape people's perception and decision-making on these sustainability challenges: 1) agriculture and food systems, 2) urban-rural linkages of land systems, 3) cryospheric disaster risks, and 4) common-pool resources. As an applied anthropologist, his research projects are interdisciplinary in nature and he combines anthropological methods (e.g., ethnography, surveys, ethnoecology) and geospatial analysis and visualization technique to better understand the intersectionality between societal roles and complex patterns of environmental change such as, deforestation, urban growth, landscape fragmentation, and melting glaciers.
More recently, his research has focused on the climate change-water-agriculture nexus, particularly how people respond to climate change, glacial flood hazards and disaster risks, and how their sociocultural, economic and institutional factors might influence their social adaptation strategies.
Glaciers, glacial outburst floods, and disaster risks
This study examines the intersections between disaster risks and socio-cultural factors that shape how people perceive, interpret, and respond to different cryospheric hazards and navigate the anticipation of disaster risks. In doing so, the historical context, institutional dynamics, cultural relevance, vulnerability, and social adaptation process are explored.
Socio-ecological gradients and urban land system changes
Focusing on fragmentation of once contiguous landscape (e.g., deserts, farmland), this study analyzes the spatio-temporal changes in land system patterns and their social drivers by using a set of socio-economic data, geospatial analysis, and landscape metrics. It reveals complex socio-ecological gradients from urban centers to the peripheral areas with different land system configurations and societal characteristics.
Milan is also expanding the urban growth study in Nepal, mainly to explore the patterns and socio-ecological implications of rapid urbanization in mountain regions. He seeks to understand: How urbanization process is unfolding in the Himalaya and what are some of the major social drivers and proximate causes of urban conversions of farming lands?
Mountain societies, land use and food security
Mountains have always intrigued scientist and scholars alike. Mountain societies provide some of the most complex cases of socio-ecological systems and social adaptation processes. Milan has spent much of his career working with mountain communities, trying to understand their challenges, hopes and wisdom.
Social inclusion, livelihoods and institutions
This study examines the complex set of challenges faced by vulnerable groups in Nepal, especially how social exclusion and institutions governing common pool resources define the social outcomes and influence people's livelihood choices. It also analyzes the coping and adaptation strategies of these groups to offset the adverse impact.