PhD profile

Brian Volz to join Assumption College

Recent graduate Brian Volz, advised by Prof. Thomas Miceli, has accepted a tenure track assistant professor position at Assumption College in Worcester, MA. Brian will be leaving UConn, where he currently teaches Intermediate Microeconomics and Public Finance, to join the Assumption College faculty for the Fall 2010 semester. Brian’s research focuses on discrimination and productivity in the professional sports industry. His research on discrimination in professional baseball has been published in the Journal of Sports Economics. He also recently presented his research at the Eastern Economic Association Annual Conference in Philadelphia. Brian plans to continue his research on labor and sports economics as a member of the Department of Economics and Global Studies at Assumption College.

Assumption College is a private, Catholic college with 2,150 undergraduate students. Assumption offers a classic liberal arts education where economics is one of 39 undergraduate majors. Brian will be one of seven full time faculty members in the Department of Economics and Global studies. He expects to teach a variety of courses including Microeconomics, Labor Economics, and Public Finance.

Zinnia Mukherjee defends thesis and teaches at Connecticut College

Zinnia Mukherjee defended her dissertation in December 2009, and is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics at Connecticut College, New London, CT. Her dissertation, titled “Three Essays on Conservation of Endangered Species”, analyzes the effectiveness of policies involving regulatory threats in controlling stochastic externalities. In addition, the dissertation analyzes the welfare effects of unilateral conservation policies in an open economy under alternative market structures and resource management regimes. Zinnia’s advisor is Prof. Segerson.

Currently, Zinnia is working on two new research projects. The first is funded by the UConn Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering through a Multidisciplinary Research Award that Zinnia received in 2009. The project develops a bio-economic discrete choice model to analyze how fishers decide to allocate their fishing effort among various fish species and fishing zones, given that species vary in terms of their sensitivity to marine hypoxia. The impact of marine hypoxia on fish landings is estimated for several Long Island Sound fisheries located in different areas along the coast of Connecticut. The second project looks at the impact of differences in U.S. state laws on the incidence of crime against women (sexual crimes) and the potential migration of repeat offenders across states to target preys more easily and escape harsher penalty sentences.

At UConn, Zinnia has taught a wide variety of undergraduate courses. She had been actively involved with the Association of Graduate Economic Students (AGES) throughout her grad school years and presided over the organization in 2007-2008. She is currently enjoying her work experience at Connecticut College.

Anuarbe defends thesis and continues to teach at Connecticut College

Monika Lopez-Anuarbe defended her thesis on Friday, February 19, 2010, under the supervision of Prof. Dennis Heffley. Her dissertation examines the time and money transfers between elderly parents and their offspring, particularly inter vivos monetary gifts by parents and time assistance by children. Using a unique panel database containing detailed information on thousands of families over a 10-year period (1993-2002), Monika was able to uncover some interesting links that earlier cross-sectional studies have missed. The analysis suggests that intergenerational transfers between parents and their children are planned processes that unfold over time and are affected by the characteristics of the parents and the offspring. The study also helps to identify specific state policies that have been most effective in encouraging family-based health care for the elderly. As a graduate student, Monika taught courses at the Storrs, Hartford, and Avery Point campuses, as well at Trinity College and Wesleyan University. Since 2006, she has taught principles courses in microeconomics and macroeconomics, intermediate microeconomics, health economics and industrial organization as a Visiting Instructor at Connecticut College. For the past several years, Monika also has published various elements of her research (Long-Term Care Interface Journal, 2007), co-authored papers based on earlier team studies (Journal of the American Dental Association, 2005), and has presented her findings at several professional conferences and academic seminars.

PhD alumna to study the Russian Far-East

Dr. Natalia V Smirnova is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Business and Economics at the College of Mount Saint Vincent, Riverdale, NY. Her areas of expertise include Russian economic transformation, issues of women in the labor force and pedagogical matters related to active learning techniques. She holds BA in Economics and Ph.D. in Statistics from St. Petersburg State University of Economics and Finance, Russia; MA in Economics from Queens College/CUNY, and Ph. D. in Economics from the University of Connecticut, the latter under the supervision of Prof. Alpert.

Dr. Smirnova participated in the Teaching Innovations Program (TIP) sponsored by the Committee on Economic Education of the American Economic Association and funded by the National Science Foundation, and completed “Experiments” and “Cooperative Learning Exercises” modules. For outstanding teaching practices and overall command with students she received Wal-Mart Teaching Excellence Award presented by the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), Region 1, in 2007.

She was selected in late May for the US Embassy Policy Specialist (EPS) program, which is coordinated through the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX). This program supports US embassies and consulates overseas by providing policy specialists-in-residence. Dr. Smirnova will be in the U.S. Consulate in Vladivostok, Russia, during March-April 2010 researching the current and future states of economic development in the Russian Far East and the opportunities for improvement of labor market participation of Russian women.

The Russian Far East is an important regional power, both within Russia and within the Pacific Rim. The infrastructure, economic diversification, competitiveness, entrepreneurship, environment and energy efficiency of the region are among the priorities cited by different sources. During this assignment, Dr. Smirnova intends to conduct economic analysis of policies and projects in these priority areas. The focus is to find ways to attract U.S. businesses and investors to the Russian Far East.

The second part of the project is planned to study women’s labor force participation with the aim of identifying policies that could increase the employment opportunities for American companies doing business in Russia. Dr. Smirnova would like to gain a better understanding of factors affecting women’s labor market outcomes, especially in foreign firms.

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.

UConn Ph.D. Serves as World Bank’s Lead Economist in Russia

Zeljko Bogetic, one of Professor Dennis Heffley’s former Ph.D. students, currently is serving as Lead Economist and Country Sector Coordinator for Russia in the Europe and Central Asia Region of the World Bank. A native of Montegro, Zeljko completed his dissertation (A Computable General Equilibrium Model of the Yugoslav Economy) in 1990. Soon thereafter, he entered the World Bank’s prestigious Young Professionals Program.

Zeljko has held a number of positions during his 20-year career at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Prior to his present assignment in Moscow, he served as a lead economist in the Africa Region of the World Bank, with primary responsibilities for Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, and before that he served as lead economist for South Africa and the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management (PREM) cluster leader for Southern Africa Customs Union countries at the World Bank. Zeljko’s command of five languages—Serbo-Croatian, English, French, Russian, and Spanish—has clearly been put to good use over the years.

In addition to his administrative duties, Zeljko has published books, scholarly articles, and papers on a variety of subjects: public finance reforms in transition economies; tax and expenditure policies; fiscal federalism; macroeconomic stabilization; dollarization and currency boards; infrastructure, productivity, and growth; and benchmarking of infrastructure performance. In addition to co-editing one the World Bank’s early volumes on transition economies (Financing Government in the Transition, 1995), he has published articles in the Journal of Comparative Economics, Challenge, the Cato Journal, World Development, Central Banking, Contemporary Economic Policy, South African Journal of Economics, Finance & Development, and Journal of Development Perspectives, as well as a number of papers in the World Bank’s Research Working Paper Series. Zeljko also leads a team of researchers that produce the World Bank’s Russian Economic Report, a prime source of information on recent macroeconomic conditions and policy developments in Russia.

Alumnus Profile: Donald Vandegrift

Economics, like most disciplines, has become highly specialized, so it is not surprising that many economists focus their research on a narrow range of topics or issues. Not so for one of our Ph.D. alumni, Donald Vandegrift (IDEAS).

Don completed his doctorate in 1993 under the tutelage of Prof. Richard Langlois. Apparently Dick’s interest in a wide range of topics in the field of industrial organization rubbed off on Don, who currently serves as Chair of the Department of Economics in the School of Business at The College of New Jersey.

Over the years, Don has published papers on performance excuse under contracts (European Journal of Law and Economics, 1997), asset specificity (Eastern Economic Journal, 1998), energy use (Journal of Energy and Development, 1999), product warranty (Contemporary Economic Policy, 2001), risky strategies in “tournament competition” (Labour Economics, 2003), obesity rates (Health & Place, 2004), gender differences in competitive strategies (Journal of Socio-Economics, 2005), prescription drug spending (Southern Economic Journal, 2006), incentive effects in experimental settings (Experimental Economics, 2007), and hedge fund performance (Journal of Derivatives and Hedge Funds, 2009).

Don’s forthcoming work continues to reflect his exceptional versatility. A paper on hedge fund performance will soon appear in the Journal of Derivatives and Hedge Funds; his experimental analysis of differences in competitive behavior between men and women is slated for publication by the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization; a study of sabotage in tournaments has been accepted by the Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics; and the Annals of Regional Science will publish a paper on linkages between open space, house prices, and the local property tax base.

It is great to see our former students enjoying their work and sharing it with others. Don spoke at our on-campus 2008 Economics Reunion and Forum, and we are hoping that he will be back in Storrs next spring, when we repeat this successful event. Don and other former grad students presented research papers, participated in job-experience panels, met our current students and newer faculty, and reconnected with old friends and fellow alums. We will be posting plans for the next event, but it is clear that even in his current administrative role as Department Chair, Don has continued his lively line(s) of research and will have little problem coming up with a new paper for the 2010 reunion.

Economics alum combines academic research and public service

After completing his Ph.D. in 1991 under the supervision of Prof. Francis Ahking (IDEAS), Kenneth Daniels (IDEAS) joined the Department of Finance at Virginia Commonwealth University. A specialist in financial services and community development, Ken has published his research in the Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, The Journal of Corporate Finance, The Financial Review, and a rich variety of other professional journals. His most recent contribution is a co-authored paper titled “An Empirical Analysis of the Determinants and Pricing of Corporate Bond Clawbacks” in the Journal of Corporate Finance. For his earlier work on derivatives, he received the Sydney Futures Exchange Prize; the Eastern Finance Association offered similar recognition for a paper on investments.

Throughout his career, Ken has combined his academic research with various forms of public service. He serves as a Board Member of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Treasury Board, a group that oversees the state’s public banking deposits and debt and manages several state investment portfolios. He also is a Board Member of the Virginia Community Development Corporation and the Virginia Community Capital Corporation, the only non-profit bank holding corporation in the U.S.

Recent graduate Tsvetanka Karagoyozova heading to Lawrence University

This fall our alumnus, Tsvetanka Karagyozova, will join Lawrence University in Appleton, WI as an Assistant Professor of Economics. A liberal-arts institution charted in 1847, Lawrence was among the first colleges in the United States to be founded coeducational.

Tsvety defended her thesis in 2007 under the guidance of Prof. Christian Zimmermann (IDEAS) and spent the last two years as a post-doctoral teaching fellow at the University of British Columbia. Tsvety’s research interests are in the field of financial economics, and more specifically in asset pricing and the economics of insurance. She is interested in how financial markets operate in the presence of informational asymmetries and in new models of individual decision-making in economics.