Invisible Hand Speaker Series


The Invisible Hand Speaker Series – Spring 2022


Are you interested in economic growth and development? If so, tune into the Invisible Hand Speaker Series! The Invisible Hand Speaker Series is an annual hybrid conference held every spring by the Undergraduate Economics Society. This year, we have three in-person speakers and two virtual speakers. The conference will be held over three days, March 22nd, March 23rd, and March 25th. Speakers will be coming from Harvard University, the Brookings Institute, and Brown University.



1. Kathleen Segerson – A Career in Environmental Economics – March 21st, 8-9 pm, Oak 337

Dr. Kathleen Segerson is a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor and UConn Alumni Association Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Connecticut.  She previously held the Philip E. Austin Endowed Chair and served as department head in the Department of Economics. She received a BA in mathematics from Dartmouth College and a PhD in agricultural and resource economics from Cornell University. She is a Fellow of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (AERE) and of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA). Dr. Segerson’s research focuses on the incentive effects of alternative environmental policy instruments, with particular emphasis on the application of legal rules and principles to environmental problems. Specific research areas include: the impact of legal liability for environmental damages in a variety of contexts, including groundwater contamination, hazardous waste management, and workplace accidents; land use regulation and the takings clause; voluntary approaches to environmental protection; the impacts of climate change on U.S. agriculture; and incentives to control non-point pollution from agriculture. 


2. Christopher Barnes, Escalent – Public Opinion and Policy – March 22nd, 5-6 pm, HBL Class of 1947 Room

Christopher Barnes serves as the Chief Product Officer and Managing Director of Financial Services for Escalent. Recruited to position the company for a successful merger, I have most notably built a team of 80+ financial service researchers advising industry-leading clients on market research related to consumer and public opinion. Prior, I served as Senior Advisor to the Chairman of the Democratic Caucus, U.S. House of Representatives, where I played a key role in shaping legislative and policy concepts for Caucus Members to sponsor and advised on issues related to the ACA, Wall Street Reform, Climate Change, and Transformation and Infrastructure. While serving as Managing Partner for Pulsar Research and Consulting, I conducted high-profile polls featured on NYT, CNN, and within TIME Magazine. My background has additionally included co-founding two research centers informing public policy while at the University of Connecticut, including the Center for Survey Research & Analysis which has evolved into a leading academic survey center and research facility. 


3. Oded Galor, Brown University – Global Economic Growth and the Unified Growth Theory – March 23rd, 5-6 pm, Gentry 131

Dr Oded Galor is the founder of Unified Growth Theory. He has contributed to the understanding of the process of development over the entire course of human history and the role of deep-rooted factors in the transition from stagnation to growth and in the emergence of vast inequality across the globe. Moreover, he has pioneered the exploration of the impact of evolutionary processes, population diversity, and inequality on the process of development over most of human existence. His research has redirected research in the field of economic growth to the exploration of the long shadow of history and to the role of biogeographical forces in comparative economic development. It has spawned influential literature studying the impact of inequality on the process of development, the interaction between human adaptation and economic development, the transition from stagnation to growth, and the impact of human diversity on comparative economic development. 


4. Gautam Rao, Harvard University – Economic Development, Poverty and Psychology – March 25th, 1-2 pm, Student Union 331

Dr Rao is an Associate Professor (without tenure) at the Department of Economics at Harvard University. He graduated from UC Berkeley with a Ph.D. in Economics in 2014. His research tries to bring insights from psychology to bear on topics in economics, particularly topics relevant to developing countries. Recent projects include studying how improving sleep affects the economic outcomes of workers in India, how the endowment effect influences consumer demand for collateralized loans in Kenya, how research findings affect the beliefs and policy choices of mayors in Brazil, and how mixing rich and poor students in schools in India affects social preferences and behaviors.

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Meet the Organizing Committee of the Invisible Hand Speaker Series:

Nidhi Nair: Executive Director
Nidhi is a junior studying Economics and Mathematics-Statistics. Nidhi serves the UConn community as the President of the Economics Society, as Treasurer of Women and Minorities in Economics, as a Werth Innovator, and as a resident assistant. She was recently named a United Nations Millennium Fellow and a UConn@COP26 Fellow. She has interned at the Brookings Institution and the Cato Institute in the past.

Jacob Edelstein: Financial Director

Hi, my name is Jacob Edelstein and I am currently a senior at the University of Connecticut. I am the Financial Director of the Invisible Hand Speaker Series and I study Economics and Political science.

jacob edelstein
Maya Murarka: Engagement Director
Maya is a junior pursuing a Bachelor of Science in economics and a Bachelor of Arts in human rights. She is interested in the intersection of these two subjects. Last summer Maya interned at the Yale Program on Financial Stability where she worked with researchers who studied recessions. After college wants to work on solutions to poverty and inequality. 
maya murarka
Wei-Chung (Justin) Wu: Partnership Coordination Director
Justin is a sophomore majoring in economics and mathematics. Besides being involved in the Invisible Hand Speaker Series, he is a co-captain of the Fed Challenge team, the president of the Taiwanese Student Association, and a member of the UConn Men’s Rugby Club Team. In his free time, he enjoys reading, playing basketball, and golfing. He is an international student from Taipei, Taiwan. After graduation, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. degree in economics. 
justin wu
SeSe Nguyen: Advocacy Director
SeSe Nguyen is a senior economics and statistics double major with a mathematics minor in the honors program. She especially enjoys studying the intersection of finance and the environment and is passionate about broadening the field to include new, diverse perspectives. SeSe cannot wait for the speaker series and looks forward to learning from leading scholars.