Events

Professor David Cutler Talks to Students of the Department of Economics

David Cutler speaking about Epidemics and CitiesProfessor David Cutler was invited by Professor Patti Ritter to speak to the students of the Department of Economics on October 18th about his book The Survival of the City.

Approximately 120 students and faculty from the Department of Economics attended the talk in person at the Dodd Center in Storrs, and 20 students streamed the talk at the Stamford Campus in a watch party.

David Cutler is the Otto Eckstein Professor of Applied Economics in the Department of Economics at Harvard University. His work in health economics and public economics have earned him significant academic and public acclaim. He also has served on the Council of Economic Advisers and the National Economic Council during the Clinton Administration, and has advised the Presidential campaigns of Bill Bradley, John Kerry, and Barack Obama. He also served as Senior Health Care Advisor for the Obama Presidential Campaign.

In his talk, Professor Cutler discussed the importance and contribution of cities, the history of epidemics and how they have affected urban areas, how the particular problems of American cities make them vulnerable to epidemics and, finally, ways of minimizing the impact of future epidemics.

Students and faculty participated during the talk and had the opportunity to meet Professor Cutler in a small reception afterwards. It was a great opportunity for them to reflect about the consequences of the pandemic and lessons to be learned. A great opportunity also, to witness how a brilliant economist applies economics to the analysis of problems and derives policy recommendations. Finally, the talk was based on the book written by Professor Cutler and his colleague Professor Edward Glaeser, two thinkers with different political orientations. Thus, the talk provided an example of how good economics should not be politically biased, and will hopefully inspire students to put the welfare of our society above our political differences.

ECE Economics Workshop 2023

ECE Workshop Attendees
ECE Economics instructors at the annual professional development workshop on October 25, 2023, at Storrs

Finally in-person, emerging after the pandemic, 41 Early College Experience (ECE) Economics instructors participated in the annual professional development workshop on October 25, 2023 in Storrs.

The agenda was filled with active learning about resources for teaching three of the ECE Economics courses (ECON 1000, ECON 1201, and ECON 1202). Both micro- and macro- economics topics were covered, so every teacher was able to take away several ideas ready to be implemented in the classroom.

The presenters at the workshop were national experts in economic education: Scott A. Wolla, Economic Education Officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and Ariel Slonim, Curriculum Designer at the Marginal Revolution University (MRU).

The attending instructors enthusiastically participated in the following activities:

  • Teaching Market Structures with Gum.
  • Supply, Demand, Action! Harnessing interactive tools to teach supply and demand.
  • Monetary Policy has Changed. Has Your Teaching?
  • Cracking the Code: Understanding GDP and Inflation through interactive tools.

Professor Smirnova, who is an ECE Economics Liaison, concluded the workshop with an interactive presentation “Teaching Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Topics in Economics”.

Economics is the biggest UConn ECE cohort:

We have 58 UConn ECE certified Economics instructors representing 42 different partner high schools across the state.

Last academic year, we had 785 students enrolled in 64 UConn Economics courses (ECON 1000, 1201, 1202). Since some students take more than one course, there were 1225 total enrollments.

ECE Economics program makes a big impact across the State!

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.

Women in Economics Symposium

Women in Economics Group Photo at Stamford
Stamford students with Dr. Ritter at the start of the Women in Economics Symposium on February 23, 2023

On February 23, 2023, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis hosted the annual Women in Economics Symposium. This year the theme was “Role Models Matter”. The agenda included notable women-economists, who shared their love of economics, their research, and their wisdom about how to build and navigate a career path in economics.

The symposium was held in a hybrid format, in which the in-person conference in St. Louis was combined with Watch Parties across the country. Professor Natalia Smirnova arranged for the Economics Department to hold two Watch Parties, in Storrs and in Stamford.

In Stamford, the symposium was designated as the Honors Program event, and they provided pizza and other snacks. Honors Program Assistant Director, Ms. Heenehan, helped with all the logistics during the preparation stage. Economics Professor, Dr. Patricia Ritter hosted the event. Nearly 20 students from political science, economics, and business attended the symposium. We thank Political Science Professor, Dr. Ginsberg for promoting the conference in her classes.

In Storrs, the organization of the Watch Party was done by Women and Minorities in Economics Club. This Club’s activities include speaker series and various events focusing on promoting fruitful discussion about women and minorities’ issues among Economics majors.

At the 2023 Women in Economics Symposium, students heard from exciting role models with fascinating careers in economics while also learning some practical tips about job searching, finding a mentor, and more. As we aspire to develop in our students the career readiness competencies, an exposure to national leaders in economics profession allows students to navigate career opportunities, network to build relationships, and clearly and effectively exchange information and perspectives with persons inside and outside of their home campus. These skills are transferable to students’ post-graduation career and will help them showcase their professionalism during job search and interview processes.

 

Business Appraiser Shares Methodology in Financial Economics Class

Mr. Becket presents in the Financial Economics class at Stamford on September 15, 2022

Mr. Peter Becket, a proprietor of Becket Business Appraisals, LLC visited the ECON 3413 Financial Economics class at Stamford on September 15, 2022. In this course, students learn company valuation techniques and apply those to a selected publicly traded company.

Mr. Becket has been an appraiser of privately owned businesses for over 40 years. So, his presentation gave students a real-world view of how he goes about valuing businesses that are not publicly traded.

Peter’s very engaging and interactive presentation showed how financial statements analysis and discounted future cash flow methodology are used in evaluating financial prospects of a closely held companies. Students learnt many nuances of appraisal business, which are not covered in the textbook. Peter shared several publications that present data of financial ratios, for example, which could be consulted for a benchmark analysis. He also explained his proprietary methodology for company valuation. Students were able to ask questions about the business and seek Peter’s advice about their career aspirations.

Mr. Becket encouraged students to invest in their learning, join professional associations, and start their careers working for someone else before venturing on their own if they decide to start their own professional practice. His talk connected the textbook material to the real-world appraisal business.

Dr. Smirnova, who is the instructor in this class, and the students are grateful to Mr. Becket for his time and invaluable wisdom, suggestions, and encouragement. The talk was very fun, as well.

Economics at the Major Fair at the Stamford Campus

Photo (left to right): Economics Seniors Miriam Salazar-Rey, James McQuade, and Gerson Jacinto at the Economics Major table on September 15, 2022.

On September 15, 2022, there was a buzz around the Rich Concourse at the Stamford campus. Various academic fields, representing majors and minors offered at UConn Stamford, were showcased. The Economics Department was represented by students majoring in Economics with Professor Smirnova in attendance as well.

The Economics table was one of the most visited through the two-hour period. Economics seniors Miriam Salazar-Rey, James McQuade, and Gerson Jacinto enthusiastically shared information about the academic course of study, about various economics paths within the profession, and about the College Fed Challenge competition, a popular extra-curricular activity at Stamford.

Students also shared various career readiness events that they have attended on campus and competencies that they have developed in Dr. Smirnova’s classes. Business community leaders’ visits, career panels, Career Development Center professionals’ presentations, and other events – all of these, in students’ view, contribute to the satisfaction with the Economics major at Stamford.

MSQE Alumni Panel on April 29, 2021

MSQE Program alumni Claudia Rodriguez (MSQE December 2019) and Jonathan Gonzalez (MSQE December 2019) participated in a virtual MSQE Alumni Networking Panel on April 29th.

Claudia currently works at Moody’s Investor Service, as a Structured Finance Associate Analyst, where she works on the Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities team, and the Collateralized Loan Obligations team.

Jonathan currently works for a Connecticut Non-Profit advocacy group.  He is currently providing data analytics research support for advocacy of Connecticut Senate Bill 842 An Act Concerning Health Insurance and Health Care in Connecticut.

They spoke highly of their MSQE training in Python, and R, the value of networking and recommended applying for summer internships.  In conversation about deadlines, it was mentioned that in industry meeting deadlines is crucial, not like class deadlines where professors’ give extensions.

The panel was moderated by Professor Harmon.

MSQE Alumni Panel

Two alumni of the MSQE Program participated in a virtual MSQE Alumni Networking Panel on March 18th:

Louis Booth: MSQE Dec 2018

John Rolfe:  MSQE Dec 2019

Louis currently works at Travelers, as a Consultant Analytics and Research Development, where he is on the  Advanced Tools and Technologies Team.  John  currently works at Spreetail as a Demand Planner where he does demand forecasting.

They spoke highly of their MSQE training in Python, R, and Tableau, and gave several examples of how they use these skills in their current positions.

The panel was moderated by Professor Harmon.

Diverse Journeys: Social Sciences Alumni Career Panel

On Thursday, February 25th, 2021, UConn Stamford students were treated to a special discussion “Diverse Journeys: Social Sciences Alumni Career Panel” featuring UConn Stamford alumni of color who majored in social sciences and now work in a variety of interesting and diverse careers.

The panelists were:

Daniel Caceres ’14 (CLAS), Real Estate Agent, YB Realty.

Saif Syed ’16 (CLAS), Investment Banking Associate, Goldman Sachs.

Destini Pereira ’19 (CLAS), Associate Project Manager, Lockwood.

Andrea Lopez ’14 (CLAS), Research Associate, Teachers College, Columbia University.

The participants shared candid insights and perspectives about job search and navigating the workplace as a person of color. Panelists also provided perspectives on how their educational experiences at UConn Stamford shaped their career journeys and put them on the path to success.

This event was organized by UConn Stamford — Department of Economics, Department of Political Science, the Center for Career Development, and the Honors Program in partnership with the UConn Foundation.

The recording of the event can be watched using this link.

Early College Experience Economics Workshop

Every year, the Economics Department hosts the professional development workshop for high school teachers of economics who are part of the UConn Early College Experience (ECE) Program. This program provides opportunities for high school students to take a UCONN course for credit at their high school. The teachers who offer such a course attend the annual workshop and are certified by the Department. Dr. Smirnova is a new coordinator for the ECE Economics program.

On Wednesday, October 28, 2020, 29 teachers from all over the State of Connecticut attended a virtual professional development workshop organized by Dr. Smirnova, the Department of Economics, and the Office of Early College Programs. The agenda was packed with useful and up-to-date information that could be used in the classroom right away.

Dr. Diego Mendez-Carbajo, Senior Economic Education Specialist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis presented a talk “Remote Active Learning with FRED Interactives”, which demonstrated new approaches of using the FRED database for teaching various topics.

Dr. Scott A. Wolla, Economic Education Coordinator at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis talked about “Teaching New Tools of Monetary Policy”, which presented the up-to-date information about monetary policy tools that have changed substantially in the past couple of years and especially since August 20202. Dr. Wolla showed various resources that could be used in teaching and studying Macroeconomics and Money and Banking.

Dr. Carlos J. Asarta, Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship at the University of Delaware presented his new research “Teaching Digitally-Minded Students during the Pandemic and Beyond”. The data collected by Dr. Asarta indicates that the profession has not yet successfully pivoted to using engaging strategies in teaching and, therefore, there are challenges in recruiting and retaining economics majors. Dr. Asarta suggested several ways of making economics more interesting, more applied, and more fun for contemporary students.

The feedback from teachers was overwhelmingly positive. Everyone learned a lot and took away many resources to be used in the classroom.

By Natalia V. Smirnova