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.
Professor Kathleen Segerson was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on Friday, April 28, as part of the 160th annual meeting of the NAS.
Professor Segerson signed the “Book of Registry” at the Presentation Ceremony, an annual tradition to officially induct members into the Academy.
“Members are elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Membership is a widely accepted mark of excellence in science and is considered one of the highest honors that a scientist can receive. Current NAS membership totals approximately 2,400 members and 500 international members, of which approximately 190 have received Nobel prizes.”
“The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a private, non-profit society of distinguished scholars. Established by an Act of Congress, signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, the NAS is charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. Scientists are elected by their peers to membership in the NAS for outstanding contributions to research. The NAS is committed to furthering science in America, and its members are active contributors to the international scientific community. Approximately 500 current and deceased members of the NAS have won Nobel Prizes, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, founded in 1914, is today one of the premier international journals publishing the results of original research.”
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our colleague, Jorge Agüero. We mourn his loss, and extend our deepest sympathy to his family. Condolences may be shared online, and his obituary may be found here and below.
Jorge M. Agüero, 51, of Mansfield Center, CT passed away on May 7, 2023 due to complications from pancreatic cancer.
Jorge was Associate Professor of Economics and El Instituto at the University of Connecticut, where he has worked since 2013. He was also affiliated with the Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy (InCHIP) at the university as well as the Group of Development Analysis (GRADE) in Peru. Known in his fields for his keen eye towards recognizing quality research, he served as an editor of the Review of Economics of the Household and the South African Journal of Economics. He was a regular participant in National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) meetings.
A true scholar with a curious mind, Jorge was excited to talk about ideas with anyone answering interesting questions with data, but his passion was for research that would improve the lives of the disadvantaged in developing countries. He made incredible contributions in the areas of health, education, discrimination, and gender, focusing on timely topics with policy implications. During the pandemic, when so many turned to sourdough starters and Netflix, Jorge worried about how declines in economic activity would affect intimate partner violence in Peru and immediately went to work on this. He was widely published in top-tier economic journals such as the Journal of Human Resources, the Journal of Development Economics, and the AEA Papers and Proceedings. He received grants for his research from the United Nations Population Fund, the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank in addition to numerous internal grants from the University of Connecticut. He thoroughly enjoyed presenting his work at conferences and seminars around the world, delivering keynote addresses at the 8th International Congress of Education in Colombia, the XI Meeting of Peruvian Students of Economics in Lima, and the VI Meeting of Mexican Students of Economics in Ciudad Juarez.
Jorge was renowned for his wise and caring mentorship of students and colleagues. Born in Lima, Peru, to a family of modest means, he was particularly passionate about mentoring individuals traditionally underrepresented in the field of economics, such as women and minorities. Most of his papers were coauthored with doctoral students and early-career scholars. He had a knack for taking a student’s rough idea, seeing its potential, and then working with the student to make it a solid piece of research. Jorge always asked tough questions in the spirit of trying to understand and make the work better, but was also the first to congratulate colleagues and students on successes big and small.
At the undergraduate level, Jorge taught a variety of courses in development economics and global health. He pushed all of his students to think deeply and critically; this devotion to quality teaching was recognized formally by the University of Connecticut and informally by the number of students calling him the “best professor I have ever had” on social media.
A selection of quotes from students and colleagues demonstrates Jorge’s passion and attention:
Jorge taught me how to love my work. He told me in my second year of Ph.D. — “you should always work on something that makes you get up in the morning and excited to start the day”. I have always had that in my mind as I have progressed through my career. -Pallavi Panda
He taught me panel data econometrics with uncommon humour. -Chijioke Nwosu
He brought wisdom and of fun in equal measure to his collaborations with colleagues at the UKZN School of Development Studies in the early 2000s. -Glen Robbins
Jorge, you have been a great and encouraging senior colleague, down to earth, insightful, and generous. Thank you for making the world, the profession, and the NBER rooms in Boston and beyond better: because of you, they were warmer, brighter, and smarter places. -Alex Eble
In addition to his academic work, Jorge was a passionate soccer fan, traveler, and food lover. He loved the Barcelona Football Club and his antipathy for Real Madrid will persist for all eternity. Jorge had special connections to his home country of Peru; to Spain, where he received his Master’s degree and returned this fall as a Visiting Professor; and to South Africa, where he conducted his dissertation research. His years were normally full of back-to-back travel. He seemed to always be eagerly looking forward to more journeys both personal and professional. He was a considerate and loving husband, a proud father, an esteemed colleague and a beloved friend. He brought laughter and a quick wit to any situation. He will be greatly missed.
Jorge is survived by his wife Michele Back, son Gabriel, and parents Jorge Jesús Marcelo and Gloria León. Jorge was predeceased by his brother, Rafael Antonio.
A celebration of his life will take place in the early fall at a date to be determined by the family.
Professor Langlois recently published an op-ed piece in the Globe and Mail of Canada, arguing that history helps us understand why today’s inflation is — and isn’t — like inflationary episodes of the past.
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.
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!
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.