Smirnova

Professor Smirnova Nominated for the University Teaching Innovation Award

Dr. Natalia Smirnova has been nominated for the CETL Teaching Innovation Award 2022. According to the award website, the individuals considered for this recognition show a demonstrated commitment to continuously improving teaching through innovation and reflective practice. They are dedicated to teaching effectiveness and support enhanced levels of student engagement and learning.

The purpose of the CETL Teaching Innovation Award is to recognize imaginative and promising innovation in teaching and learning strategies and assessment methods. This award is designed to honor teaching practices and strategies that improve student learning outcomes in online, blended, or face-to-face courses.

This year, one Teaching Innovation Award will be honored. The winner will be presented at the CETL Reception in April. The recipient will present at a Teaching Innovation Showcase in the academic year, contribute to faculty outreach, and work with CETL staff to support faculty innovation across the University.

Congratulations to Dr. Smirnova for her nomination!

UConn-Stamford Team Competes in the 2021 College Fed Challenge

This Fall 2021, UConn Stamford team participated again in the College Fed Challenge national competition. College Fed Challenge is a team competition for undergraduate students. Teams analyze economic and financial conditions and formulate a monetary policy recommendation, modeling the Federal Open Market Committee.

In 2021 the competition once again was virtual. Each team had to create and then upload a 15-minute video presentation encompassing the following:

  1. An analysis of current economic conditions (as of the day of the competition); these conditions may include broad macroeconomic conditions as well as conditions experienced in different geographic areas, in urban/rural areas, or among different demographic and socioeconomic groups (e.g., racial and ethnic groups, age groups), borrowers and savers, etc.
  2. A forecast of near-term economic and financial conditions relevant to the formulation of monetary policy.
  3. A discussion of significant risks to the economy that should receive special attention in formulating monetary policy; these risks may include the possible effects (positive or negative) of monetary policies on different segments of the population.
  4. A monetary policy recommendation, encompassing both traditional tools and newer approaches as warranted; presenters should give supporting reasons for their recommendation.

The Stamford team consisted of six students who divided their responsibilities for research, organization, presentation, and video creation according to their passions, skills, and interests. Here is the team:

Aidan Connolly (Captain) is a seasoned team leader with extensive experience in data-driven decision making. He is currently finishing his final semester at The University of Connecticut, where he will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics this December. Aidan was elected by his peers to lead the UConn College Fed Challenge Team. His areas of expertise include public speaking, sustainable economic practices, and quantitative modeling. Aidan enjoys cycling, skiing, and socializing in his free time. After graduation in December of 2021, Aidan will continue to consult with the UConn College Fed Challenge Team and begin his career in software sales. Read Aidan’s reflection about the course here.

Gabriella Barg is a senior majoring in Economics with a minor in Accounting. Taking part in the Fed challenge in her remaining semesters has been one of the most academically enriching adventures in her undergrad. The freedom to choose what to research in the current American economy within diverse themes is an informative experience. After spring 2022 graduation, she looks forward to carrying on her refined skills in her professional life, pursuing a Master’s in Accounting Fall 2022. Read Gabriella’s reflection about the course here.

Jorge Cuautla Jr. is a proficient researcher with substantive experience. Combined with the resourcefulness and analytical capabilities, the introduction of the College Fed Challenge was the perfect opportunity to showcase his research abilities. Jorge’s focus as a member of the College Fed Challenge team was the United States Gross Domestic Product (or GDP). The participation in the College Fed Challenge expanded Jorge’s employment opportunities. With positions offered by Amazon, PepsiCo, Northwestern Mutual, and much more, it was difficult to narrow down a future home. Post-graduation, Jorge will continue his macroeconomics research while working as an Analyst at TD Bank. Read Jorge’s reflection about the course here.

Matt Gilshteyn is a sophomore at UConn, majoring in Marketing Management. This is his second semester as a Practicum team member. This course helped him develop a better understanding of the Federal Reserve’s influence on our economy and how real-life projects are completed. The class also demonstrated how different sectors and industries contribute to the decisions of the Federal Reserve. Matt selected the energy sector in hopes of better understanding this sector and its operations. He focused on renewable energy because it showed serious potential for growth within the energy sector. Researching and interpreting data was very insightful, and the skills that he developed helped explain how the energy sector can impact the Fed’s decision. Read Matt’s reflection about the course here.

Sava Logvinski is an experienced negotiator, with an extensive background in team development. His ambitions are high, and dreams are endless. Sava is one who emphasizes the value of asking questions. He enjoys learning new concepts and is quick to grasp them. The Fed Challenge allowed him to gain a holistic approach to monetary policy, implementing his fundamental economic analysis obtained at UConn. He focused on the sector of employment, specifically on automation and future outlook. As a senior majoring in Economics, Sava interviewed this semester with several companies. After careful consideration, he decided to accept his offer with Celonis starting January 2022. Celonis is the world’s leading process mining software company. Process Mining is a new big data analytics technology designed to help customers optimize their operations. Process Mining goes through the already existing log data every IT system produces and finds out where improvements are needed. Why? In order to be more efficient than your competitors, get rid of bottlenecks, make your customers even happier and create processes that everybody loves to deal with. The Fed Challenge prepared Sava with public speaking and presentation skills needed to succeed in the world of sales. Through studying new AI technology and understanding the economic impacts, he was able to identify proper use cases, and deliver. He is excited to begin his journey post graduation, and help businesses unlock full execution capacity. Read Sava’s reflection about the course here.

Ashley Balta (alternate) grew up in Greenwich and graduated from Greenwich High School. Ashley is a first-generation college student, and she participated in the AVID program to help her with the process of higher education. At UConn, she majored in Economics. Ashley enjoys the arts as she has been dancing ballet at the Ballet School of Stamford since the age of 3. As a member of the diversity club, she continued her volunteering work for the AVID program as a mentor. Currently, Ashley is starting the foundation of her small-Hispanic-owned business. After graduation, she plans to pursue her master’s for further education. Since joining the Fed Challenge course over the summer, she realized it was the perfect opportunity to increase her knowledge of several sectors of the economy. Being a student-led class, this course taught her the fundamentals of planning, impact instructions, and work-related responsibilities. Read Ashley’s reflection about the course here.

All students worked diligently and cooperatively through two semesters. The final video presentation can be seen here. Even though, the Stamford team was not selected to advance into the final round, the team is proud of the work they have done.

As students’ reflections show, the participation in the Challenge is very rewarding. In addition to learning about the economy and monetary policy, students gain skills in research, analysis, and teamwork, all of which are transferable to their future careers and academic endeavors.

Congratulations UConn – Stamford College Fed Challenge Team 2021!

 

Photo (left to right): Jorge Cuautla, Gabriella Barg, Ashley Balta, Sava Logvinski, Dr. Smirnova, Matt Gilshteyn, Aidan Connolly.

Stamford Economics Students Explore FACTSET Data Platform

FactSet creates data and software solutions for investment professionals around the world, providing instant access to financial data and analytics that investors use to make crucial investment decisions. The company was founded in 1978 and is headquartered in Norwalk, CT, a short distance from the Stamford campus.

All UConn Stamford students now have access to FactSet data portal through the terminals located in Jeremy Richard Library. Because students in Dr. Smirnova’s Financial Economics (ECON 3413) class are engaged in a project valuating a company of their choice, they used FactSet to get financial performance data and other information about the company they have selected, its competitors, and the industry, in which the company operates. However, there is a lot more depth to FactSet.

UConn Stamford Center for Career Development had arranged for a special (virtual) visit of FactSet’s Academic Specialist, Andi Huff, to Financial Economics class. On November 18, 2021, Andi demonstrated for students many features of FactSet portal. This knowledge will help students not only in completing the semester project, but also in developing skills in data analytics, and in utilizing this data source in other Economics courses as well as in other disciplines.

Ms. Andi Huff also introduces students to various career opportunities available at FactSet, such as Student Ambassador Program, Internships, and Client Solutions Associates positions.

Economics majors are prepared for a diverse range of careers, but jobs in data analytics are of a particular interest nowadays. Availability of FactSet’s platform at the Stamford campus plays an important role in enhancing our students’ readiness for careers in this field.

Stamford Economics Students Discuss their Career Aspirations

On November 11, 2021, Stamford Economics majors met a special guest. The visitor was Jeff Magnuson, Career Consultant and owner of Jeff Magnuson Consulting. Jeff talked to students about developing a strategy for their job search and about specific steps they should take to aid this process.

Students learned about developing an understanding of the role they want to play at a firm they are applying to. This step of thinking about one’s passions and personal goals and objectives should be the first one in the job search process. Drafting the resume and cover letter should come after that. The practice of thinking deeper about what one wants to do will help making resume more focused and cover letter more persuasive.

Jeff encouraged students to be open and truthful. He motivated them to not get deterred by the competition, and to concentrate only on things within their control. He gave hints about utilizing mailings to the actual hiring manager instead of relying solely on the electronic uploads of the materials. Overall, many good ideas and suggestions were discussed, and students were grateful for the wealth of information that Mr. Magnuson provided.

The visits of business community members to the Stamford campus are encouraged by the CLAS 2020-2025 Strategic Plan. Supporting “Goal 3 Teaching” and the “Student Support and Engagement” objective, we are creating ways to better connect students with various opportunities related to their career aspirations. In support of “Goal 4: Broader Impacts, Service, and Visibility”, we are facilitating community engagement and increasing the visibility of CLAS with and for citizens of the state.

 

Photo: Mr. Jeff Magnuson (left) and Dr. Smirnova during the Stamford campus visit on November 11, 2021

UConn Stamford Economics Students Engaged with Community Business Leaders

Economics students at the Stamford campus were excited to meet two executives from Slalom, Thomas Kauffman, Head of Account Management and Sales, and Saken Kulkarni, Managing Director, on Thursday, October 28, 2021. Slalom is a global consulting firm focused on strategy, technology, and business transformation. Their office for New York, New Jersey, and Southern New England is located in White Plains, NY, so they are considered to be a local business for our Stamford campus.

During their visit to ECON 3431-Financial Economics class, Mr. Kauffman and Mr. Kukarni described Slalom’s business model, answered students’ questions, and provided an overview of the project acquisition and management stages.

This was a remarkable opportunity for Economics students who, in this class, study financial management and stock valuation. They were able to get a sense of actual real-life application of their analytical skills in the business world. The conversation focused on nuances of various projects that Slalom has been undertaking.

After this class, Thomas and Saken participated in the College Fed Challenge UCONN-Stamford team meeting (ECON 3492-Practicum course). Students shared their presentation that was submitted as an entry to the competition. Our guests constructively critiqued the presentation and gave suggestions for improvement. This was an invaluable contribution to team’s preparation for the Q&A portion of the competition. Students reported that they have learned a lot during this event as Thomas and Saken shared many stories of their career in general and work at Slalom in particular.

Such formal and informal interactions with community business leaders are very important as they connect the University to business and our students to prospective employers in the area. Additionally, students gain a sense of business landscape and expand their understanding of potential careers available to Economics majors.

Early College Experience – Economics: Workshop 2021

On Wednesday, October 27, 2021, Dr. Smirnova conducted annual professional development workshop for teachers participating in UCONN Early College Experience (ECE) Economics program. Dr. Smirnova, who is the Economics Department coordinator of this program, welcomed 34 teachers and presented the summary of NACEP (National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships) accreditation requirements. Dr. Smirnova emphasized the importance of course comparability such as student learning outcomes, syllabus, assessment, and grading standards. Dr. Smirnova proudly mentioned that University of Connecticut was the first institution in the nation that received NACEP accreditation in 1999.

Next on the agenda was an important topic of Highlighting Diversity and Inclusion with FRED® Data. This segment was presented by Dr. Diego Mendez-Carbajo, Senior Economic Education Specialist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Participants learned how to leverage FRED Blogs in their classes by accessing FRED Blog posts through EconLowDown and using multiple-choice questions addressing data literacy, numeracy, and econ analysis. Several examples highlighting the topics of diversity and inclusion were discussed, such as labor force participation of workers with disability and women’s employment losses due to COVID-19, among others. Dr. Mendez-Carbajo suggested possible uses of FRED Blogs such as pre-lecture independent exploration, in-class application exercises, assessment, and out-of-class assignments.

Contemporary monetary policy changes were addressed by Dr. Scott A. Wolla, Economic Education Coordinator at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. His presentation called “Monetary Policy Has Changed. Has Your Instruction?” highlighted new information about changes of primary monetary policy tools, flexible inflation targeting, and nuanced changes in the wording of the Fed’s dual mandate. Dr. Wolla carefully explained the contemporary implementation of monetary policy and shared classroom resources, which address these changes ahead of changes inside economics textbooks.

UCONN Library is a great resource for getting access to databases, reading materials, videos, and teaching our students about legitimate sources, citation styles, and research skills in general. In her presentation “UConn Library Resources for You and Your ECE Students”, Sheila A. Lafferty, Information Literacy & Social Sciences Librarian, showed various research tools as well as familiarized participants with the notion that there are “not only books” that are available at UCONN Library. She guided teachers to video recordings, data sources, academic journals, popular journals, and many other things that are part of the library collection. Ms. Lafferty created a special ECE Library Guide, which summarizes her presentation and can be accessed any time.

In conclusion, Dr. Smirnova encouraged teachers to continue perfecting their craft of teaching economics in an engaging way. To aid with that endeavor, every workshop participant will receive a complimentary electronic copy of the book “Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning” by Brown, Roediger III, and McDaniel (2014).

Thank you, Early College Experience Office, for making this professional development workshop a success!

Professor Smirnova Receives Stamford Faculty Recognition Award 2021

During the Stamford campus Convocation ceremony on September 9, 2021, Professor Smirnova received the 2021 Faculty Recognition Award given to faculty member who goes above and beyond the call of duty to serve the students and the campus. According to the Award criteria, the nominee should have a balanced and thorough record of achievement in the areas of scholarship, teaching, and service.

In addition to teaching various Economics courses, Dr. Smirnova was recognized for her work with students as academic adviser, as club advisor to the College Fed Challenge Stamford team, as Career Champion, and the organizer of several community outreach events.

During 2020-2021 academic year, Dr. Smirnova collaborated with Political Science Department, Center for Career Development, Honors Program, and UConn Foundation to bring two well-attended career-focused events to Stamford campus:

Dr. Smirnova also serves as the Economics Department liaison to the Early College Experience Program, which works with high schools across Connecticut. In 2020-2021, the Economics was the largest discipline of the ECE program, working with 68 instructors teaching 52 courses.

The scholarship of Dr. Smirnova encompasses her work on pedagogy, promotion of women in economics, and supporting students with their research aspirations. To this end in 2021, Dr. Smirnova was instrumental in sending her students to the Diverse Economics conference and the National Conference on Women in Economics WE are Resilient.

Her own research on data visualization use in the undergraduate classroom was showcased at the TeachECONference2021 organized jointly by Cornell University and the University College of London.

At the Convocation, Dr. Smirnova shared her passion for teaching and working with students and encouraged students to seek resources that will help them succeed.

Spring 2021 Awards

Uconn sealWhile the department is 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

Jasmine Kuyateh-Banks
Melissa Mendez
Kelly-Anne Moffa
Joslin Valiyaveettil
Clare Wieduwilt
Linge Yang
Michael Zhu

Kathryn A. Cassidy Economics Scholarship

Lauren Pawlowski

Rockwood Q. P. Chin Scholarship

Ryan Durrell
Cole Ensinger
Yue Sun

Louis D. Traurig Scholarship

Kader Akpinar
Susan Bailey
Prasad Gosavi
SeSe Nguyen

Paul N. Taylor Memorial Prize

Brendan Adams

Julia & Harold Fenton and Yolanda & Augustine Sineti Scholarship

Linge Yang

Charles Triano Scholarship

Matthew Petridis

Dr. Joseph W. McAnneny Jr. Scholarship

Kelly-Anne Moffa
Benjamin Scudder
Kira Smith
Alexander Taylor
Joslin Valiyaveettil
Clare Wieduwilt
Michael Zhu

Robert J. Monte Scholarship

Isadore Johnson

Ross Mayer Scholarship

John Peterson
Ajshe Zulfi


Graduate Awards

W. Harrison Carter Award

Jinsoon Cho
Jingwei Huang

Abraham Ribicoff Graduate Fellowship

Miranda Mendiola Valdez

Timothy A. and Beverly C. Holt Economics Fellowship

Yijia Gao
Anastassiya Karaban
Ha Kyeong Lee
Kunze Li
Ghania Shuaib
Jiaqi Wang
Yangkeun Yun

Albert E. Waugh Scholarship

Umesh Ghimire

Economics Department General Scholarship

Tiange Du
Xuejian Gong
Ruohan Huang
Benjamin Taraskevich
Ziyun Wu
Yizhi Zhu

Best Third Year Paper Award

Lindsey Buck, awarded for her paper “Head Start Improves Health and Welfare 25 Years After Participation”

Graduate School Pre-Doctoral Fellowship

Faisal Algosair
Abdulmohsen Almuhaisen
Erdal Asker
Birenda Budha
Dingxian Cao
Jingyun Chen
Zhenhao Gong
Treena Goswami
Huarui Jing
Chuang Li
Chun Li
Xizi Li
Tongan Liu
Deepak Saraswat
Rui Sun
Victor Volkman
Jinning Wang
Haoxiang Xu
Heli Xu
Heshan Zhang
Wei Zheng


Faculty Awards

Grillo Family Research Award

Jorge Agüero

Grillo Family Teaching Award

Natalia Smirnova

 

Congratulations to everyone!

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.

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.