Alumni

Econ PhD Alumnus is Chief Economist for Macro Policy at the CEA

Aaron Cooke, a 2018 PhD graduate of the UConn Department of Economics, recently became the Chief Economist for Macroeconomic Policy at the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA).

The CEA, an agency within the Executive Office of the President, is charged with offering the President objective economic advice on the formulation of both domestic and international economic policy.

Aaron earned his PhD degree from the Department of Economics in 2018, specializing in macroeconomics and public policy. His PhD dissertation, “Three Essays on Wealth and Income Inequality”, studied the causes of U.S. wealth and income inequality, and was completed under the supervision of Professor Kai Zhao.

Prior to joining the CEA, Aaron was an economist at the Office of Management and Budget.

Wei Zheng’s research on the Child Tax Credit featured by Niskanen Center

PhD candidate Wei Zheng’s job market paper “Child Tax Credit and Maternal Labor Supply” has been featured in a post by the Niskanen Center:

New research finds the Child Tax Credit promotes work

From the post:

“The work incentive created by the Earned Income Tax Credit has been the subject of extensive study for decades now, with generally positive results. The pro-work potential of the Child Tax Credit (CTC), in contrast, has been relatively ignored.

A new job market paper from Wei Zheng, a PhD candidate at the University of Connecticut, attempts to fill this gap in the literature. Using event study and simulation techniques, Zheng provides new and detailed estimates of the effect of the Child Tax Credit on maternal labor supply. The headline finding: a $1000 increase in the average CTC is associated with a 1.1 percentage point increase in labor force participation for single mothers.”

More information about Wei Zheng and her research may be found online at https://weizhengecon.wixsite.com/website

Stamford Team Competes in the College Fed Challenge 2020

This year, the College Fed Challenge competition was virtual. It was a challenging transition to understand the intricacies of new rules and regulations and to pivot in September to be ready by October 9. But the UConn-Stamford team was well-organized, enthusiastic, and well-prepared to put forward the arguments that the current economic situation warrants keeping the target federal funds rate unchanged.

The 2020 team consisted of five Stamford students: Cullen Murphy (ACES, sophomore), You Kim (Financial Management and Economics, senior), Shayla Siljkovic (Linguistics and Philosophy, sophomore), Eileen Zhu (Economics, junior), and Rashana Weerasinghe (Business Data Analytics, sophomore). They worked virtually; very diligently, creatively, and collaboratively. They describe the challenges of this new environment as the loss of a camaraderie of in-person interactions, technical difficulties, and physical isolation. However, the presentation that they put forward combines the intellectual rigor of each member, deep research of economic indicators, and a collective vision of what the forecast of current economic conditions looks like.

You can watch their presentation here.

Our team did not make the next round of the competition this year, which is, of course, disappointing. However, the learning that has occurred was a worthwhile experience. First, each student has developed an expertise in a selected economic indicator or industry: each team member researched, constructed graphs, and made connections with overall economic development as well as with monetary policy implications. Furthermore, students gained highly valuable skills such as critical thinking and teamwork. These are the skills that are transferable to other professional environments such as a graduate school or a workplace.

You can read the students’ reflections here:

Cullen Murphy – Stamford Fed Challenge 2020

You Kim – Stamford Fed Challenge 2020

Shayla Siljkovic – Stamford Fed Challenge 2020

Rashana Weerasinghe – Stamford Fed Challenge 2020

Eileen Zhu – Stamford Fed Challenge 2020

The course that will be used to prepare a team for the next year’s competition is ECON 3492 – Practicum. It is offered every semester. Stamford students who are interested in joining the team should contact Dr. Smirnova. The student’s major does not matter – all majors are welcome! What matters is the desire to learn about the economy and monetary policy, and to be open-minded to work well in a team.

 

Stamford Campus Hosts Women Alumnae

Students at Stamford campus were treated to an amazing event on November 12, 2020. A virtual panel discussion featuring UConn Stamford alumnae who majored in social sciences (COMM, ECON, HDFS and POLS) called “Breaking the Mold: Women in Social Sciencesattracted almost 100 students.

A recording of the event may be found online at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQK8qMAPrXs&feature=youtu.be

The five UConn Stamford alumnae who were featured work in a variety of interesting and diverse careers. These women created their own paths, in unconventional ways, in areas where women are often underrepresented. During the event, they provided insights into how their educational experiences at UConn shaped their career journeys and put them on the path to success!

Panelists:

  • Harriet Munrett Wolfe (’76 CLAS) is the Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Webster Bank and Webster Financial Corporate. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science from UConn and a J.D. from Pepperdine University School of Law.
  • Maureen Hanley (’92 CLAS) is the Senior Vice President of The First Bank of Greenwich. Maureen has a bachelor’s degree in political science from UConn.
  • Anne McAuley Lopez (’96 CLAS) is the lead writer and owner of McAuley Freelance Writing. She has a bachelor’s degree in economics from UConn.
  • Katherine Velez (’10 CLAS) is a Research Coordinator at Columbia University Medical Center. She has a bachelor’s degree from UConn in Human Development and Family Studies and an MSW from Fordham University.
  • Brianna Walston (’17 CLAS) is the Founder of Brianna Regine Visionary Consulting, LLC. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications from UConn.

Students learned how one’s career evolves post-graduation, how to find a mentor, and how to navigate the job search environment during the pandemic. During the Q&A, students asked questions about challenges that women face in the workplace and how to leverage one’s education and mentorship relationships for the successful steering of a career.

Overall, the panelists offered many positive and constructive suggestions, helping students keep faith in themselves even during the uncertain times of a pandemic.

This program was hosted by UConn Stamford: Political Science and Economics Departments, the Center for Career Development, and the Honors Program in partnership with the UConn Foundation.

By Natalia V. Smirnova

Recent PhD Ria Bhattacharya publishes on COVID-19

Recent graduate Ria Bhattacharya (PhD 2019) has published an article “COVID-19: G-20’s Response to Education” in the August 2020 volume of G-20 Digest.

Abstract: This paper examines the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on education. It discusses G20 current status in the education sector and its response to COVID-19 impact on education. The paper highlights the challenges thrust upon the G20 economies concerning education, a crucial sector in any economy. Currently, there are over 23 million confirmed cases globally, with the United States leading the death count at 176000 deaths and counting, due to COVID-19. As the entire world braces itself for a severe recession comparable to the Great Depression which will have long-lasting effects on every sector of the global economy, we examine how G20 nations can provide leadership in provision of education during the current crisis.

The article may be found at https://www.ris.org.in/journals-n-newsletters/G20-Digest, and is also linked online at https://mobile.twitter.com/RIS_NewDelhi/status/1303781794030862340

Pilot Project Approved for Professor Agüero and PhD Student Mendiola

Professor Jorge Agüero and third year PhD student Miranda Mendiola’s proposal “Role models: Information and Gender Stereotypes” for a pilot project, sponsored by the Innovation Laboratory for Cost-Effective Educational Policy – MineduLAB in the Peruvian Ministry of Education, has been approved.

Their project has the objective of reducing gender stereotypes and improving grades for high school students through the use of role models. Traditionally, efforts to reduce gender gaps have focused on empowering women. Professor Agüero and Miranda’s project focuses on changing the perception of both genders’ abilities by showing students movies that have young main characters being successful in careers that are nontraditional for their gender. They hope to improve women’s scores in STEM courses, where they traditionally perform worse, and also to improve men’s scores in courses they traditionally struggle with (Spanish and history). They will measure changes in gender bias through a questionnaire and a game, with the objective of measuring both explicit and implicit biases. 

This project will hopefully be a pilot for a larger project in Peru, aiding in the reduction of gender bias in Peruvian schools.

Professor Ray publishes in Empirical Economics

Professor Subhash Ray published his recent paper “Unrestricted geometric distance functions and the Geometric Young productivity index: an analysis of Indian manufacturing” coauthored with Arnab Deb (Associate Professor, International Management Institute New Delhi) and Kankana Mukherjee (Associate Professor, Babson College) in Empirical Economics.

At this point, the paper is available online at https://doi.org/10.1007/s00181-020-01925-0.

Both of his coauthors are his former PhD students: Arnab Deb (PhD UConn 2012) and Kankana Mukherjee (PhD UConn 1997).

Professors Harmon and Tomolonis Publish in Journal of Economic Education

JEE LogoOskar Harmon and Paul Tomolonis (UConn PhD 2017) have co-authored the article “Learning Tableau – A data visualization tool”, published in the Journal of Economic Education.

ABSTRACT: “Doing economics” is an important theme of undergraduate economics programs. Capstone courses increasingly include instruction in “data literacy” and the STEM-related skills of quantitative and empirical methods. Because the professional discipline has moved in this direction and because of greater employer demand for these skills, data visualization is a key component of data literacy. Tableau is a free data visualization software widely used in the data analytics industry. In this article, the authors introduce an exercise that teaches the fundamental Tableau concepts and commands needed to create charts, assemble them in a dashboard, and tell a story of patterns observed in the data. The exercise assumes no prior experience in Tableau and is appropriate for undergraduate upper-level economics courses or an empirical methods course.

The article is available at the JEE website

UConn Researchers Awarded Grant to Study Domestic Violence and COVID-19

UConn’s Nishith Prakash and Lindsey Buck, along with coauthors Maria Micaela Sviatschi and Sofia Amaral were awarded a $76,000 grant from Princeton in order to study COVID-19’s implications on domestic violence.

Project Title: Macroeconomic Shocks and Domestic Violence: Evidence from COVID-19

Abstract:

Domestic violence (DV), defined as stalking, rape, or physical violence, is a global problem with 35% of women worldwide reporting experiencing DV (WHO 2017). In this project, our goal is twofold. First, we aim to look at COVID-19 – a large macroeconomic and health shock — on an important outcome from a welfare perspective: domestic violence (DV). DV is an important outcome to study because it has large financial and health implications; DV survivors suffer reductions in earnings and poor health (Aizer, 2011) and the CDC spends $5.8bn annually on health costs related to DV (St. Jude House). Second, we also aim to test two interventions that are likely to determine pathways to aid victims of DV during a pandemic: one consists of providing labor market opportunities for women and a second one on providing information on how to identify and respond in DV cases. We will sample 4000 women in the U.S. on the M-Turk platform and collect information on their financial, emotional, and relationship stress levels. Then, we provide two interventions. The first treatment will provide information on the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH), where trained advocates are available to talk confidentially and provide resources on DV. We will also provide the NDVH’s resources on healthy relationships, legal help, and conflict resolution. The second treatment will provide a cash transfer to women for completing tasks on M-Turk; in this way we will increase women’s labor market opportunities at home. Our results will shed light on two important questions: First, can information mitigate the effects of DV? Secondly, can labor market opportunities mitigate the effects on DV? Our goal is to look at the broad implications of COVID-19 on DV and illustrate policy opportunities to mitigate DV in the wake of an unprecedented macroeconomic shock.

More information on the project can be found here: https://www.eeassoc.org/index.php?site=JEEA&page=298&trsz=299 and in a recent article in UConn Today:

How will COVID-19 Affect Domestic Violence?

Associate Professor of Economics Nishith Prakash and graduate student Lindsey Buck are part of a research group that was awarded a $76,000 grant from Princeton University to study COVID-19’s implications on domestic violence. They will test two interventions that are likely to determine pathways to aid victims of domestic violence during a pandemic: One consists of providing labor market opportunities for women, and a second one that provides information on how to identify and respond in domestic violence cases.

 

CLAS Faculty and Students Shifting Work to COVID-19

2020 Spring Awards

Uconn sealAlthough the department was not able to celebrate with an awards banquet this year, we still are able to recognize the best among undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty! This year’s award recipients are:

Undergraduate Awards

Economics Department General Scholarship

Yulia Bragina
Tyler DiBrino
Kevin Fiddler
Melissa Mendez
Sueing Ngov
Shannon O’Connor
Gabriela Rodriguez

Kathryn A. Cassidy Economics Scholarship

Kelly-Anne Moffa
Katelyn Mooney

Rockwood Q. P. Chin Scholarship

Kevin Fiddler
Devin Pallanck
Gabriela Rodriguez
Yumeng Shao

Louis D. Traurig Scholarship

Marisa Infante
Spencer Kinyon
Linge Yang
Ajshe Zulfi

Albert E. Waugh Scholarship

Xiaofeng Gong

Paul N. Taylor Memorial Prize

John Peterson

Julia & Harold Fenton and Yolanda & Augustine Sineti Scholarship

Tyler DiBrino

Charles Triano Scholarship

Tiffany D’Andrea
James Rice

Dr. Joseph W. McAnneny Jr. Scholarship

Madeline Danziger
Zian Zhang

Robert J. Monte Scholarship

Luis Cruz

Ross Mayer Scholarship

Michelle Grieco
Mary Vlamis


Graduate Awards

W. Harrison Carter Award

Lindsey Buck

Abraham Ribicoff Graduate Fellowship

Yangkeun Yun

Timothy A. and Beverly C. Holt Economics Fellowship

Yijia Gao
Xuejian Gong
Ruohan Huang
Ha Kyeong Lee
Wensu Li
Miranda Mendiola Valdez
Ziyun Wu

Economics Department General Scholarship

Jingyun Chen
Chun Li
Jinning Wang
Heli Xu

Best Third Year Paper Award

Erdal Asker
Deepak Saraswat

Graduate School Pre-Doctoral Fellowship

Treena Goswami
Huarui Jing
Anastassiya Karaban
Xizi Li
Shilpa Sethia
Rui Sun
Jiaqi Wang
Wei Zheng


Faculty Awards

Grillo Family Research Award

Jungbin Hwang

Grillo Family Teaching Award

Delia Furtado

 

Congratulations to everyone!