2016 Economics Graduate Reunion and Forum

On Thursday, May 5, 2016, the Department held an all-day Economics Graduate Reunion and Forum. Our Graduate Alumni gathered to reconnect with classmates and professors, and to establish new connections with current graduate students and newer members of the faculty.

Our alumni shared their current research, their thoughts about the graduate experience, and their experiences since leaving the University of Connecticut. We look forward to continuing to make this a regular event, scheduled every three or four years.  The program for this year’s event is included below.

Special thanks to Andreas Karapatakis (PhD, 1992) for his generous support of the 2016 Economics Graduate Reunion and Forum.


2016 Economics Graduate Reunion and Forum
8:30 AM Coffee & Greet
9:00 AM Welcome
Stephen Ross, Department Head
Subhash Ray, Director of Graduate Studies
9:30 AM Alumni Research Papers
Moderator:  Chuck Martie, Education Consultant, CT Dept. of Education
Gulgun Bayaz, New York City College of Technology
“Intertemporal Poverty Among Older Americans”
Juan-Pedro Garces-Voisenat, Siena College
“The Role of Virtue in Economic Development”
Monika Lopez-Anuarbe, Connecticut College
“Intergenerational Transfers and Caring for Families in the United States and Abroad”
10:30 AM Coffee & Chat
11:00 AM Alumni Academic Experience
Moderator:  William Pace, Anthem, University of Connecticut
Paramita Dhar, Central Connecticut State University
Monika Lopez-Anuarbe, Connecticut College
Juan-Pedro Garces-Voisenat, Siena College
Paul Kozlowski, University of Toledo
12:00 PM Lunch & Emeritus Panel (Immanuel Wexler, Steve Sacks, Arthur Wright, Dennis Heffley)
1:30 PM Alumni Research Papers
Moderator: Nandika Prakash, CT Dept. of Economic & Community Development  
Leshui He, Bates College
“Adverse Classroom Peer Effects in Students’ Achievements: Evidence from a Quasi-Random Assignment”
Parag Waknis, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
“Competitive Money Supply in a New Monetarist Model”
Stanley McMillen, CT Dept. of Economic & Community Development (retired)
“Economic and Fiscal Impacts of Connecticut’s 2015 Bill to Recoup a Portion of Its Public Assistance Costs”
2:30 PM Coffee & More Chat
1:30 PM Alumni Professional Experience
Moderator: Natalia Smirnova, American Institute of Economic Research
 Jieling Chen, Merck Research Laboratories
 Ravinder Dhawan, Merck & Co.
Nandika Prakash, Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD)
4:15 PM Closing Remarks

A High Ranking for the M.A. Program in Economics

econ50The M.A. program in Economics at the University of Connecticut has been ranked #38 of the 157 programs evaluated in the Financial Engineer’s 2015 Master of Economics Rankings.

A variety of factors are used to evaluate each program, including acceptance rates, the employment prospects for new graduates, and starting salaries and bonuses.  The results are considered “”the most comprehensive rankings for graduate financial economics programs in the United States.”


Oskar Harmon featured in article written by MA student Andrew Sparks

On Wednesday, November 16, 2011, UConn Today featured an article about Professor Oskar Harmon’s innovations to traditional class methods.  The article was written by one of the department’s MA students, Andrew Sparks.

Andrew’s article outlines Prof. Harmon’s efforts to makes his lectures and class discussions available online and on mobile devices. For example, Prof. Harmon has re-formatted his lectures so that they can be played on smart-phones, and has opened class discussion threads on Facebook so that his students can choose to learn and participate on mobile devices. Andrew notes the significance of this, as Prof. Harmon recognizes the need to give students several options for participation beyond email, HuskyCT forums, and in-class lectures.  Prof. Harmon saw a new opportunity in mobile media (smart-phones, tablets, etc.) and rolled out the new formats this semester.

The link to the article is here:

Be sure to check UConn Today for future articles on the Econ department faculty, also written by Andrew.

Stockton to Receive Distinguished Alumni Award

The UConn Alumni Association recently announced that David Stockton has been named to receive the 2010 Distinguished Alumni Award. After completing his BA and MA at UConn in just four years (1972-76), under the supervision of Professor Emeritus William McEachern, Stockton obtained a second MA and his PhD in Economics at Yale University. A Danforth Fellow, Yale Fellow, and member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi, Stockton joined the Federal Reserve’s Division of Research and Statistics in 1981. Since 2000, he has served as the Director of Research and Statistics, overseeing the Fed’s large staff of PhD economists who conduct research and inform the Fed’s Board of Governors–the architects of U.S. monetary policy.

Both the current Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke, and his predecessor Alan Greenspan have strongly praised Stockton’s expertise and advice on economic matters. In addition to his responsibilities for directing longer-term research projects at the Fed, Stockton presents regular economic forecasts to the Federal Open Market Committee–the group of officials that regularly meets to decide Fed policies and actions that shape banking operations and interest rates in the U.S. and abroad. Stockton’s public service career continues a family tradition. David’s father, Ed Stockton served as Mayor of the Town of Bloomfield, and later was named Commissioner of Economic Development under Governors Ella Grasso and William O’Neill. The Stockton family’s New Jersey ancestor Richard Stockton signed the Declaration of Independence.

Stockton will be officially honored at an Alumni Association event in the South Campus Rome Hall Ballroom, on October 1, 2010.

There is more about David Stockton in the UConn Alumni Magazine

Graduate alumni reunion program announced

Here is the program of the various events to happen on April 1 and 2, 2010.

Thursday, April 1, 4:00 pm – Philip. E. Austin Forum on Economics and Public Policy, Robert Stavins (Harvard University), “Climate Change Policy After Copenhagen,” Student Union Ballroom.

Thursday, April 1, 7:00 pm – Economics Department Annual Awards Banquet, Bishop Center.

Friday, April 2, 8:30 am to 4:00 pm – Graduate Reunion and Forum, alumni research papers, professional experience panel, and graduate research, Bishop Center.

8:30amContinental Breakfast (Room 7 lobby, downstairs)


Welcome: William Lott, department head
Program Overview: Dennis Heffley, Professor of Economics


Session 1: Alumni Research Papers and Presentations
Moderator: Leshui He, Past President, Association of Graduate Economics Students (AGES)
Dipasis Bhadra (PhD, UConn), Senior Economist, Federal Aviation Administration, US Department of Transportation
“Air travel in the US: How do we travel, where do we travel, and why do we travel?”
William Place (PhD, UConn), Medical Economist, Aetna Informatics, Hartford CT
“Behavioral and health care outcomes of wellness program participants”
Philip Shaw (PhD, UConn), Assistant Professor of Economics, Fairfield University
“Nonparametric Instrumental Variable Estimation in Practice”
Alice Zawacki (PhD, UConn), Senior Economist, Center for Economic Studies, US Bureau of the Census
“Searching for data? Using the Census Bureau Research Data Centers?”


Coffee Break: Lobby


Session 2: Alumni Professional Experience Panel
Moderator: Steven Lanza (PhD, UConn), Executive Editor, The Connecticut Economy
Laura Bhadra (MA, UConn; PhD, American University) Assistant Professor of Economics and Program Head, Northern Virginia Community College, Manassas VA
“Economics and Movies: a hybrid course”
Natalya Shelkova (PhD, UConn) Assistant Professor, Guilford College, Greensboro NC
“From job market to new job”
Hemanta Shrestha (PhD, UConn) Senior Analytics Manager, Sprint Nextel Corporation, Warren, NJ
“Building propensity models for customer targeting”
Monica Tedeschi Cantor (MA, UConn) Financial Strategist and VP, New York City Economic Development Corporation 2005-2007
“Pursuing a career in economic development: a New York City example”


Lunch: Bishop Center


AGES: Matthiew Burnside, President AGES
Introduction of officers
A word about AGES


Session 3: Graduate Research
Moderator: Rasha Ahmed(PhD, UConn), Assistant Professor, Trinity College, Hartford
Lei Chen (ABD, UConn)
“A study of the production technology of the US dental care industry”
Paramita Dhar (ABD, UConn)
“School quality and property values”
Patrick Flaherty (ABD, UConn), Economist, Office of Research and Information, Connecticut Department of Labor
“Tracking the recession in Connecticut: a view from the Department of Labor”
Monika Lopez-Anuarbe (PhD, UConn), Visiting Instructor, Connecticut College, New London CT
“Intergenerational transfers in the long term care market”
Michael Stone (ABD, UConn)
“Three essays on the economics of tort law”

Special thanks to Andreas Karapatakis (PhD, 1992) for his generous support of the Department of Economics 2010 Graduate Reunion and Forum and Annual Awards Banquet.

Parking: If you are traveling to campus by car, parking permits for the lot adjacent to the Bishop Center (just south) will be available at the continental breakfast. Just park, come inside to the lower level and pick up a permit to place in your car. You should be able to park in the lot the entire day if the permit is displayed in the vehicle

PS: Some pictures of the event are available.

A female pioneer in our Master’s program

Therese Comcowich Lucas earned her master’s degree in economics in 1952. She was the first woman to do so, and she was the first female teaching assistant in economics. The male graduate students in economics then named the group after a comic strip: Terry and her pirates. The Ansonia native now lives in retirement in Tucson, Arizona, but she criss-crossed the country over the years, following her husband’s job moves while she maintained her own active career as an economist and consultant.

Read more on the UConn College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Alumni site.

Monica has her hands full

We enjoy keeping tabs on our former students. We’re not nosey—it’s just fun to hear what they’ve been up to. We recently caught up with Monica Tedeschi Cantor (BA ’94; MA ’95), who is currently taking a stay-at-home “breather” with 2 year-old twins, Melanie and Henry, and her 14 year-old dog, Makita. But, if Monica is getting any rest, it’s certainly well deserved.

Never exactly the lazy sort, during her UConn days Monica belonged to crew and the Russian Club and volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics and local halfway houses. Her undergraduate Honors thesis on privatization in Bulgaria drew upon her summer internship with a World Bank consultant in Sofia, and her MA thesis focused on the determinants of health status in developing countries. She graduated Magna Cum Laude as an Honors Scholar in Economics and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and then completed her MA in Economics in 1995.

Monika worked in New York for the next 5 years, including 3 years as an Assistant Treasurer at Chase Manhattan Bank, performing profit and loss analyses of financial derivatives. She also worked for 2 years at Mitsui & Co. as a Trading Assistant in the execution of corn, soybean and soybean oil future trades.

Returning to school in 2000, Monica spent the next two years at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), where she worked on the Journal of International Affairs, received a foreign language scholarship and studied French in Nice. She also received a program assistant fellowship during her second year and completed two research internships with the United Nations, focusing particularly on U.N / private sector partnerships.

From 2002 to 2004, Monica worked as an Analyst and Senior Analyst at the New York City Office of Management and Budget (NYCOMB), helping to oversee the City’s budgetary process in regards to the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), the NYC Planning Department, and the NYC Building Department. Responsibilities included budget and personnel analyses, meeting with senior officials, and management of internal processes.

Monika then joined NYCEDC—a quasi-public agency under the direction of a President and the City’s Deputy Mayor and Mayor. NYCEDC develops and implements programs and capital projects that foster economic growth in the City, including job creation. From 2004-2005 she worked in the Strategic Planning Department, where two of her major projects included a program to help ensure Minority and Women Business-Owned Enterprises (MWBEs) had a voice at NYCEDC and throughout City agencies, and a recommendation to the Mayor on how to approach Community Benefit Agreements (CBAs).

Later, as a Financial Strategist and Vice President in the Budget Department (2005-2007), she helped oversee and manage a team of ten budget analysts that carried out NYCEDC‘s fiscal responsibilities. They initiated strategic alliances between departments such as the Real Estate Group and the Capital Projects Group, and between agencies such as NYCEDC’s Economic Group and NYC Office of Management and Budget’s Economic Group. One of the most significant projects included research and recommendations to the President and the Mayor on Tax Incentive Financing (TIFs).

You can see why we’re hoping Monica will be able to participate in one of the professional experience panels at our forthcoming Graduate Reunion and Forum, scheduled for April 2, 2010. Children and pets are welcome too!

Attention Grad Alumni

In March 2008, the Department hosted a Graduate Reunion and Forum at the Bishop Center. At the one-day event, some of our former PhD students presented their recent research, while others employed by government or the private sector described their work in professional experience panels. We are planning to host a similar event on Friday, April 2, 2010, preceded by two other events you may wish to attend.

The first is the Philip E. Austin Forum on Economics and Public Policy, which will be held at 4:00 on Thursday, April 1, 2010, in the Student Union Auditorium. This is an inaugural event, which will feature a lecture on climate change policy by Harvard environmental economist Robert Stavins (see details in separate blog entry).

After the Austin Forum, at 7:00 PM on Thursday evening, the Department will hold its Annual Awards Banquet at the Bishop Center. In addition to recognizing the achievements of some of our outstanding undergraduates and graduate students, we’ll be honoring Bill Lott, who will be leaving the Department this spring after 40 years of outstanding service to the University.

We currently are looking for volunteers to present papers and participate in the professional experience panels, so please let us know if you would be interested in taking part. A brief note to will suffice. We’ll be forwarding more information by email, so if you think you may not be on our current list, or if you have recently changed your email address, please contact us.

Finally, if you would like to catch up on (and keep up with) the activities of the Department’s students, faculty members, and alumni, continue to visit the Blog. At the bottom of each page, you can scroll back to earlier entries, which also can be accessed by clicking on the links listed on the left side of this page.

We hope to see you in April!

Very best wishes,
Dennis Heffley

Phd Alumnus joins University of Reading

Anupam Nanda, 2006 PhD alumnus in Economics, has joined the faculty of Real Estate and Planning, Henley Business School at University of Reading (United Kingdom), one of the world’s leading centers for real estate education and research. His doctoral dissertation was advised by Prof. Stephen Ross, Prof. John Clapp, and Prof. Dennis Heffley. Previously, he worked with Deloitte , Market Intelligence group in Mumbai, and the Economics group of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in Washington DC. His research papers have appeared in Journal of Urban Economics and The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics. Anupam’s research interests are in real estate economics, empirical finance as well as urban economics and local public finance. He is currently working on the minimum services mandate for the real estate brokers.

Recent graduate works on the economics of obesity

Marina-Selini Katsaiti has recently completed her graduate studies at the Department of Economics of the University of Connecticut. Her PhD thesis, “Three Essays on the Economics of Obesity,” focused on different aspects relating to the economics of obesity (happiness, macroeconomic issues, health care costs). Selini defended her thesis in September 2009 under the significant and very valuable assistance and support of her advisor, Prof. Zimmermann, and associate advisors, Prof. Heffley and Prof. Randolph. Pieces of her thesis were presented in many international economics conferences and a section has been published in a book. In addition, an article outside her thesis, “Corruption and Growth Under Weak Identification,” co-authored with fellow graduates Philip Shaw and Marius Jurgilas has been accepted for publication by Economic Inquiry.

Selini is currently working as a researcher at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece), in the Department of Economics. In addition, she is working as an independent researcher for the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), a think tank in Belgium. Her research topics of interest include: economic growth, behavioral economics, corruption, trust and risk issues, and health economics.