Alumni

Economics GA Training Seminar – Fall 2023

The 2023 Fall Economics Graduate Assistant (GA) Training Seminar was held in Herbst (Previously Oak) 312 on November 1, 2023. The GA training seminar was designed to help student instructors and graduate assistants in the Economics Department succeed in their teaching roles at UConn, and to help promote their professional development.

During the event, Professor Talia Bar, Professor Tianxu Chen, Professor Delia Furtado and Professor Derek Johnson shared their teaching experiences, and addressed a variety of issues/questions raised by our student instructors and GAs. Specifically, the topics addressed in the seminar included (1) responsibility of instructors, (2) evaluation of teaching, (3) improving attendance, (4) responding to students’ emails, (5) suggestions for first time teaching, and (6) disputes between instructor and student.

Student instructors teaching in Fall 2023 and other GAs participated in the seminar. They also shared their teaching experiences, and the challenges they face, with the faculty and their peers. The event was a big success, and provided valuable support for our student instructors and GAs. The seminar was coordinated by Professor Chen, who is also the instructor for ECON 6492: Teaching Economics, the newly designed course for first-time student instructors.

 

 

Master of Science in Quantitative Economics (MSQE) at Fall Career Fairs

Professor Harmon and MSQE Students
At the Storrs Career Fair, four of our third-semester MSQE students and two of our first-semester MSQE students visited our table as they made their way through the fair. Pictured below are Prof. Oskar Harmon, MSQE students: Khoa Tran and Colin Pavel.

Professor Oskar Harmon and Graduate Program Assistant Lisa Bono represented the MSQE Program at three UConn Career Fairs this Fall semester – the UConn Storrs All Majors Career Fair, the UConn Storrs Stem Career Fair, and the UConn Stamford Career Fair.

Professor Harmon and MSQE Students
At the Stamford Career Fair, our first-semester Stamford-based MSQE students and several undergraduates visited our table. Pictured below are Joao Benites (MSQE), Prof. Oskar Harmon, Serhiy Kotsopey (MSQE) and Stamford student Eraldo Ndoj.

At the table we distributed brochures describing the program, gave away some of our branded swag, including a raffle for an MSQE custom-made Columbia fleece jacket, and signed students up for our upcoming Info Sessions and Newsletters.

From seniors interested in the MSQE Program and undergraduates interested in the “4+1” accelerated program option, we collected 60+ email addresses from the Storrs and Stamford Fairs. We also networked with many recruiters interested in learning more about the MSQE program and in potentially hiring MSQE graduates.

 

Spotlight on Alumni: Elizabeth Miller at NYU

Picture of Nikki MillerElizabeth (Nikki) Miller graduated from UConn as an economics major in 2020—not the luckiest time for a graduation. After that, she participated in the AmeriCorps program and later began graduate studies at the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University. We recently received an update from Nikki to share with all of you:

“I remember the economic courses I took at UConn had an element of quantitative rigor and I appreciate what I learned in those courses. I still have many of these course materials saved on my laptop. Some courses that gave me a great foundation for graduate school alongside being some of my favorites included Intermediate Microeconomics and Macroeconomics, Empirical Methods in Economics, Women & Minorities in the Labor Market, Labor Economics, and Development Economics. The professors who instructed these courses were amazing not only as instructors but as people who really were passionate about the work they did.

Besides being a student at UConn I also enjoyed being involved on campus in a variety of capacities. I participated in an early childhood literacy development program called Jumpstart as a volunteer, worked with other graduate students in the economics department as an economics tutor, got involved with other student groups such as Women & Minorities in Economics, starting out as a social media coordinator then becoming president in my senior year. As a part of this organization, I was able to attend the 2018 Undergraduate Women in Economics Conference which gave me insight into how women across the country were incorporating economics into their work and/or research. I also decided to become a resident’s assistant during my final year at UConn to be a resource to new students and to help cultivate a caring and respectful community.

Graduating in 2020, a year filled with many unfortunate events, shaped my post-graduation plans. I ended up participating in an AmeriCorps program for one year as a math fellow, instructing amazing sixth graders at a charter school in lower Manhattan. That was a very challenging but rewarding experience and made me eager to get back into the classroom as a student. In Fall 2021, I began graduate school at the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University. The economics course content and material I interacted with at UConn motivated me to apply to the master’s in public administration program which had a specific emphasis on public policy analysis. At Wagner I curated my coursework to focus on policy analysis and evaluation, specifically related to land use and housing policy. Some of the courses I took included Advanced Empirical Methods, Public Economics, Evaluating Programs and Policies, Housing and Community Development, Environmental Infrastructure for Sustainable Cities, and Land Use, Housing and Community Development in New York City Seminar. In the Land Use seminar, I worked alongside two NYU law students to carry out a legal and data analysis on the NYC Fair Share Criteria. These analyses culminated in an article that was recognized by the American Bar Association (ABA) and will be published in ABA’s Section of State and Local Government Law Review — The Urban Lawyer.

As a Wagner student, I worked part-time as a graduate research assistant on the data team at the NYU Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. Following my first year at NYU, I interned at the New York City Housing Development Corporation, a public benefit organization that finances affordable housing development in New York City, as a data analysis intern on the policy and analytics team. This year, I completed my studies at NYU Wagner and transitioned to a full-time position at the NYU Furman Center as a Data Management Associate where I am involved with the diverse data work occurring across the center.  I hope to use the skills and experience that I gain in this full-time role in a future capacity where I am pursuing a Fulbright Scholarship or Ph.D.”

Congratulations, Nikki, on all of your accomplishments! If you are a current UConn economics student interested in pursuing an MPA degree, you can learn more about Nikki’s career path by looking at her LinkedIn profile or you can reach out to her directly at eam9536@nyu.edu.

If you are a recent alum doing interesting things, please reach out to us at economics@uconn.edu. We would love to hear from you.

PhD Students Studying Migration on the Move

Treena Goswami presented her paper, “Immigrants and Labor Market Decisions of Older Natives“ at the Population Association of America (PAA) Annual Meeting held in April this year in New Orleans. She will start a position at the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute in the Social and Decision Analytics Division.

In May, Abdulmohsen Almuhaisen presented his paper, “Immigration Enforcement and the Institutionalization of Elderly Americans ,” coauthored with Professor Delia Furtado and Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes from UC-Merced, at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Labor Economists (SOLE) in Philadelphia. He will return to Saudi Arabia to work at the Saudi Central Bank in the late summer.

Both were hooded at this year’s Commencement Ceremonies by advisor, Professor Delia Furtado.

Congratulations and good luck, Treena and Abdulmohsen!

PhD Students Hooded in University’s Commencement Ceremony

On a picture perfect Spring evening, several doctoral students participated in the University’s Commencement exercises. Major advisors hooded their students while friends and family members watched either in person from the Jorgenson or online from thousands of miles away at very inconvenient times given different time zones.

The joyous occasion was at times quite somber given the recent passing of Professor Jorge Agüero. As Professor Agüero’s student, Miranda Mendiola Valdez, crossed the stage, special recognition was given to honor the moment. The entire Jorgensen clapped as Professor Delia Furtado hooded Miranda. Miranda will begin a tenure track position at North Central College in the fall.

2023 Spring Awards Banquet

Uconn sealOn April 13, the department convened for an awards banquet that recognized the best among undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty. This year’s award recipients are:

Undergraduate Awards

Economics Department General Scholarship

Pin Lyu
Justin Wu

Kathryn A. Cassidy Economics Scholarship

Solaiman Chowdhury
Annaliesa Wood

Rockwood Q. P. Chin Scholarship

Lila Pickerign
Stratton Stave
Ruoqi Wang
Qiaozhi Zhou
Ziyun Zhou

Louis D. Traurig Scholarship

Aidan Adams
Erik Choi
Ian Ferguson
Nadine Fernando
Sophia Lemirei

Paul N. Taylor Memorial Prize

Colman Tokar

Julia & Harold Fenton and Yolanda & Augustine Sineti Scholarship

Annelise Montuori

Charles Triano Scholarship

Summer Beebe
John Doran

Dr. Joseph W. McAnneny Jr. Scholarship

Adem Aksoy
Dylan Champagne
Keven Coşgel
Eleanor Gross
Anthony Ho
Shuhan Jiang
Isabella McClure

Ross Mayer Scholarship

Jackson Bright
Virag Korniss


Graduate Awards

Albert E. Waugh Scholarship

Miranda Mendiola Valdez

W. Harrison Carter Award

Matthew Brown
Victor Volkman

Abraham Ribicoff Graduate Fellowship

Abdulmoshen Almuhaisen

Timothy A. and Beverly C. Holt Economics Fellowship

Satadru Bhattacharyya
Xiaofeng Gong
Phillip Hwang
Shangyue Jiang
Meng Song
Feifan Wang
Xinrui Wang

Economics Department Research Excellence Award

Anastassiya Karaban

Best Third Year Paper Award

Kunze Li

 

Faculty Awards

Grillo Family Research Award

Daniela Vidart

Grillo Family Teaching Award

Jorge Agüero

Employee Appreciation and Farewell

Rosanne Fitzgerald
Nishith Prakash

Faculty Recognition: National Academy of Sciences

Kathleen Segerson

 

Congratulations to everyone!

 

Professional Writer Visits the Writing-Emphasis Economics Class

Anne McAuley Lopez, CLAS ’96, professional writer and business owner of Agency Content Writer, LLC, visiting Stamford Campus on Thursday, April 13, 2023

It is a rare occasion when a Writing-Intensive Economics class is visited by a professional writer. This is what the English classes usually can offer. It is even rarer when a professional writer is actually an Economics major.

Mrs. Anne McAuley Lopez, CLAS ’96, graduated from UConn-Stamford with an Economics degree and went on to a career in the banking and data-related fields, but her heart was in the research and writing aspect of the business. With one twist in her career, she decided to do what her heart desires – set up a writing consulting firm and help businesses to create content which is appealing to their clients. The mix of economics knowledge and the knack for presenting information in a concise and engaging way jolt her firm Agency Content Writer to success.

Now, Mrs. Lopez is giving back to UConn by participating in various career and alumni events. She is collaborating with Professor Smirnova on the writing-intensive course ECON 3431 W Public Economics. During the pandemic, Mrs. Lopez recorded several motivational videos that Dr. Smirnova embedded in the course on HuskyCT. This semester, though, Mrs. Lopez was able to come to ECON 3431W in person on April 13, 2023.

The students were able to ask questions about the place of writing skills in their future career. Mrs. Lopez explained that in any career path, communication competency (written and verbal communication skills) play a very important role. She also gave motivational advice to students regarding their current peer-review class assignment. She described the role of an editor and a publisher who use the same constructive criticism approach when evaluating papers, essays, and books for publication.

Students were excited for the opportunity to connect with the UConn-Stamford alumna who is generously giving her time and expertise to help them with their writing … and with their Economics career readiness.

We thank Mrs. Anne McAuley Lopez for her continuous interest in and the support of our students.

International PhD Students Start Careers in the US Financial Industry

Ziyun Wu, Ruohan Huang, and Xuejian Gong

We are delighted to share that three of our 5th-year PhD students focusing in econometrics, Xuejian Gong, Ruohan Huang, and Ziyun Wu, recently accepted (full-time) job offers in the US financial industry.

Xuejian has accepted a job offer as assistant vice president for wholesale credit risk management at Citi Institutional Clients Group. His dissertation (advised by Professor Duke Kao) is about applying distributionally robust optimization in economic and financial models. Ruohan has started her career at OneMain General Services Corporation as a senior analyst in credit, pricing, and analytics. The subject of her dissertation (advised by Professor Jungbin Hwang) is financial econometrics, focusing on empirical asset pricing models. Lastly, Ziyun has started work as a data scientist at Hartford Steam Boiler – Munich Re. Her dissertation (advised by Professor Duke Kao) studies the machine learning approach in asset pricing.

All three students commented that their programming language skills and understanding of various econometrics/statistical theories from their PhD training were key factors for their success in the job market. Also, they pointed out the importance of earlier preparations for the industry job market, as most companies for quantitative analyst positions have at least two rounds of interviews for coding and critical thinking.

We are again pleased to congratulate our PhD students’ achievements in their job markets and know that they will have great success in their careers in financial industries!

National Security Council Director Visits Public Economics Class in Stamford

Katherine Bradbury, Director for International Economics and Competitiveness program of the National Security Council, The White House

Stamford students in ECON 3431W Public Economics class were treated for a special visit from the UConn alumna, Ms. Katherine Bradbury, who is Director for International Economics and Competitiveness program of the National Security Council at the White House.

As the curriculum of the Public Economics course, taught by Professor Smirnova, includes such topics as Fiscal Federalism, and State and Local Government Finance, a visit from the White House staff seems like an excellent fit. Working with the Center for Career Development in Stamford and UConn Alumni Office, we were able to secure Katherine Bradbury’s virtual visit to this class on April 6, 2023.

Our discussion went much deeper than the curriculum topics, however. Students shifted it into the realm of career readiness and skills that are essential for a public sector job.

Ms. Bradbury talked about the importance of being a competent person, no matter what major you are pursuing in college. She shared her strive to be a well-rounded professional, the foundation of which was set by the liberal arts education she has gotten at UConn. At the White House, she said, the main trait is the ability to maintain composure under stress and the ability to critically think about a situation at hand.

Students understood that internships and extra-curricular activities will help them show a unique set of skills and experiences that they can leverage at a job interview. They were fascinated with Katherine’s story about taking the photograph with Mr. Joe Biden and the high-level description of what she does at the White House.

Such visits by alumni are very important for students’ career and self-development as well as growth in professionalism. The interactions with alumni open their eyes on various career paths that could be pursued with their major.

We thank Ms. Katherine Bradbury for the time she carved out for us and for her inspirational conversation with students.

Economics Alumna Visits Money and Banking Class

Professor Smirnova and Viviana Castillo at Money and Banking Class
Viviana Castillo, CLAS ’20, (right) with Dr. Smirnova after the class visit in Stamford, 2/14/2023

Stamford students in ECON 2411 “Money and Banking” class taught by Dr. Smirnova were treated to a special guest visit on February 14, 2023. UConn Stamford Economics alumna, Viviana Castillo, CLAS ’20, who is Principal Finance Analyst at GlobalFoundries shared her wisdom about building knowledge base and career-relevant skills while in college, about finding a job upon graduation, about graduate school, and about current job market in the intersection of economics, finance, and tech.

While at UConn Stamford, Viviana worked in the banking industry, but she managed her time well, which allowed her to participate in the College Fed Challenge competition in 2019 as Stamford team member. She graduated in the midst of the pandemic in the Spring 2020, but did not slow down and entered graduate school at Columbia University. She continued working in the banking industry, gaining experience. After graduating with a Masters in Risk Management degree, she moved to a more interesting job in FinTech.

Viviana Castillo shared with students her approach to gaining new skills in order to prepare for demands of ever-evolving job market. She encouraged students to become career ready. In addition to content knowledge in their academic fields, students need to develop career competencies that are in high demand in the workplace, such as critical thinking, communication, and professionalism.

Students asked a lot of questions, shared their anxieties, and were grateful for Viviana’s effort to meet with them. Business leaders’ and young alumni’s visits to ongoing classes are an exciting way to connect our students to the world outside the academy and prepare them for careers upon graduation.