Feature | 10/26/2016

Job Market Candidates Will Be Listed Here In October

When   CVs, abstracts, personal webpages, and convenient links to their advisors.

Feature | 12/28/2017

Amanda Pallais, a former Economics undergraduate, contributed to "research that mattered most in 2017"

Feature | 06/06/2018

Kent Merritt, UVA alumnus and economics major, profiled in UVA Today article

Feature | 10/11/2016

ECON Alum: Emily Snow, Class of '16

1. Why did you choose to study economics? 

A month into my first semester, Professor Elzinga gave a lecture in ECON 201 that changed the course of my college trajectory. The topic—rational consumer behavior—was neither inspiring nor profound, but the lesson stuck. I found myself measuring the costs of a good in terms of its next best alternative, ignoring sunk costs when I made a decision, and seeing applications of economics everywhere. Drawn to this “economic way of thinking” during my first months of school, I attended my professors’ office hours, participated in behavioral experiments in the VEcon Lab, and even went water-skiing with Professor Elzinga. As I pursued economics further in subsequent semesters, I was struck by its systematic explanations for the world around me—everything from business strategies to Congressional voting procedures to income inequality. I was fascinated by these questions and the way that economics answered them, and there was no turning back! 

2. What courses/ professors have been particularly influential and why? 

This question is a tough one, because there have been so many! I'm grateful to Mr. Elzinga for his wise counsel, steadfast mentorship, and the way that he constantly challenges me. His ECON 201 class first drew me to the subject, and since then I've had the pleasure of learning from him in his Antitrust seminar and through an independent study on the intersection of economic thought and Christian theology. I'm grateful to Mr. Coppock for his encouragement and natural gift for relating to students. His Public Choice seminar was incredibly interesting and stimulating, and it remains by favorite class to date. I'm grateful to Mr. Holt for his patience, kindness, and willingness to invest in my academic potential. Learning from his expertise in experimental economics has been a true privilege. And the list goes on! I'm grateful to Mr. Olsen for guiding me through my first research project, to Mr. Burton for connecting me wonderful people and opportunities in the Department, to Ms. Turner for her amazing dedication to her students' flourishing, and to many others who have invested in me. 

3. What makes the economics department special? 

As my previous answer demonstrates, the faculty in the economics department have made all the difference to me. They create an atmosphere in which freedom of inquiry flourishes and opportunities abound. During my time in the department, I've particularly enjoyed the opportunity to conduct research. Last year, I completed an independent study in which I used Stata to estimate the efficiency gains of housing vouchers as opposed to public housing. Additionally, I work as a Research Assistant in the VEcon Lab, exploring ways that human behavior either aligns with or deviates from economic theory. In addition to these pursuits, I've also gained immense value from the opportunity to serve as a Teaching Assistant in introductory economics courses. Teaching is a great responsibility and privilege, and helping my students grasp the discipline’s most fundamental principles reminds me of why I fell in love with economics in the first place.

4. How did you spend your summer between third and fourth year? (This language has been changed. Former question asked “How did you spend last summer?” Or, we may mention in the heading that these responses were collected while you were a student and now you are an Associate with BCG.)

I had a fantastic summer interning for BCG in their DC office. My role as a Summer Associate involved collaborating with my case team to strategically simplify the organizational structure of a large tech firm. Day to day, I spent good deal of my time building models on Excel, creating Powerpoint decks for client presentations, and performing data analysis with my team. At the most basic level, my task was to solve problems, and both the content of the work and the atmosphere of the office made my job both stimulating and sustainable. I have no doubt that the experiences the Economics Department has provided me differentiated me as a job candidate, and Jen Jones and the ECO office were enormously valuable to me as I navigated the job recruitment process. Furthermore, once I began my internship, it became abundantly clear that the critical thinking that I learn through my economics coursework would help me succeed in the Associate role. I am looking forward to returning to BCG as a full-time Associate next year. 

5. What is the most interesting thing you've done in the Department?

Serving as one of the first undergraduate Teaching Assistant for introductory economics courses has been and continues to be an incredible privilege and learning opportunity. Standing in front of a classroom twice each week, I’ve learned to present economics concepts in creative ways. I’ve learned to establish credibility by coming prepared for class and by speaking with confidence. I’ve learned to establish approachability by adding lighthearted elements to my lessons and being transparent about any mistakes I make. Working one-on-one with my students, I’ve learned the joys of helping others succeed. I’ve learned to help my students work out practice problems themselves, rather than just listen to me explain them. I’ve learned to exhibit patience and encouragement in the face of my students’ frustration and disappointment, particularly after midterms. 

As a returning TA this year, my goal is been to use these lessons to both improve upon my teaching and to be a leader among new undergraduate TAs. I seek to be a role model by putting my students’ needs above my own. Whether it means putting extra effort into planning interactive lessons, sacrificing time to meet outside of my office hours, or simply demonstrating to my students how much I care about their success, my role as a Teaching Assistant continues to be my most meaningful University involvement. 

Feature | 11/17/2017

UVA alumnus and Economics major, Noah Deich, explores carbon removal through negative emissions

Feature | 12/14/2017

Professor Kerem Cosar discusses NAFTA with UVA Today

Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications

Feature | 10/11/2016

ECON Alum: Yingqi Liu, Class of '16

1. Why did you choose to study economics?

Coming into UVa, I knew that I wanted to major in something that is theory-based and can give me solid quantitative trainings. Economics major offers me these, and I can also apply theories that I have learned in class to explain phenomenon in my daily life.

2. What courses/professors have been the most influential and why?

I enjoyed taking many classes, including Industrial Organization with Professor Mills and Econometrics with Professor Michener. If I had to pick, perhaps Antitrust Policy with Professor Elzinga would be one of the most influential courses. In class, we examined the progression of court rulings of interesting antitrust issues over time, some of which took place during the timeframe of the class. I got a much better understanding of economic consulting, and applied for my current job.

3. Over the summer you worked as an intern. In your own words, what did you do in this role? How was it related to your major/how did you use what you've learned in the department to secure this role and on the job?

I interned at a wealth management firm over the summer. It was mainly a client-facing role with access to the most up-to-date market research data. I got to work with a wonderful team and learned more about the financial industry. The analytical training in the Econ Department prepared me well for this role.

4. What career goals do you have for your future?  (immediate/long-term)

I will work for Cornerstone Research after graduation. After a few years, I plan to attend graduate school (MBA or JD).

5. If the ECO has helped in your experience at U.Va., kindly share how/why.

The ECO has been an extremely valuable resource in every stage of my career exploration. By attending numerous career panels, I got to see a wide variety of industries and met many distinguished Econ alumni. I also enjoyed speaking with Jen, who always provided me with constructive feedback and steered me toward the right direction.

6. What is a fun fact about you?

I graduated from a high school in Green Bay, Wisconsin. I did go to Packers games and I do own a Packers jersey, but I have never worn a cheese hat.

Feature | 01/13/2017

Published Paper by three ECON Grads and Prof. Steve Stern (Stony Brook)

Variation in mental illness and provision of public mental health services

Authors: ECON Grads: William C. Johnson, Michael LaForest, Brett Lissenden & Prof. Steven Stern (Stony Brook).

 

Published recently in Health Services and Outcomes Research Methodology, this paper is an expansion of a previous study by Professor Steven Stern which estimated the local prevalence of mental illness in the Charlottesville area. That earlier paper caught the eye of state senator Creigh Deeds, who recognized how useful it would be to have the analysis extended to the entire state of Virginia. Three Economics graduate students then helped Professor Stern estimate the prevalence of mental illness within 30 geographical regions in the state of Virginia. After accounting for insurance status, they were able to compare estimates of demand for public mental health services to supply of public mental health services in each of those 30 geographical regions. Over 66,000 uninsured and Medicaid-insured individuals in Virginia were found to be without public mental health services. The deficit varies locally, with several regions having no deficit and others having 5,000 or more untreated people. Though a large portion of the unserved people with mental illness are uninsured, many would be insured for mental health services through Medicaid if Virginia were to accept the Medicaid expansion associated with the Affordable Care Act. The paper's findings suggest that states can better serve populations relying on mental health care by allocating scarce public mental health dollars to localities reflecting their need. The co-authors' results have been presented to a Virginia Senate joint subcommittee on mental health. The chart below shows the deficit of mental health services across Virginia's Community Services Boards for three values of PSUs (primary sampling units).

 

Feature | 12/28/2017

Lee Coppock receives UVa's prestigious 2018 Alumni Association Distinguished Professor Award

Feature | 08/30/2017

ECON Grads at the 6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences

Feature | 12/12/2017

Professor Amalia Miller researches Workplace Hierarchies and their impact on women's promotion rates

Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications

Feature | 03/25/2018

Professor Jonathan Colmer researches the economic consequences of environmental change

Feature | 10/10/2016

ECON Alum: Diane Cherry, Class of '89

At the time of the production of this profile, Ms. Cherry worked as the Environments Policy Manager at the Institute of Emerging Issues. Learn more about Ms. Cherry's current position here: http://www.energync.org/page/bio_diane_C/Diane-Cherry.htm

Why study economics?

Economics is one of the most important topics that explain everyday life.  It tells us why consumers and firms behave the way they do and how they relate to each other and to institutions such as the government. As two examples -- economics explains how firms react to different types of regulation and how the Federal Reserve’s monetary policies impact the interest rates consumers face when they go to finance the purchase of their house. Economics can be applied to all kinds of sectors such as healthcare, the environment and education. In nearly every issue or discussion people want to know who is impacted and how much something costs.  All of that requires an understanding of economics. More broadly, economics teaches analytical and problem solving skills that employers continually search for in their employees.

2. What course/professor was influential and why?

Dr. Ed Olsen was the most influential professor I had when I was at UVA.  I was part of the economics distinguished majors program and spent my fourth year doing a research paper on how announcements of money supply affect interest rates and exchange rates.  I really enjoyed the research aspect of the work and wanted to continue as a research assistant in some capacity after I graduated.  Dr. Olsen provided me the names and contacts of several organizations in Washington, D.C. that hire research assistants out of college and I was fortunate enough to work for one organization for two and a half years before I went to graduate school.

3. What made the economics department attractive to you/what made it special?  

The economics department was special for a number of reasons.  First, I really enjoyed the distinguished majors program and the small number of students that were part of that group.  We socialized together and studied together and many of us had similar career interests.  Second, I really had a chance to get to know my professors – Dr. Charlie Holt and Dr. Ed Olsen were two of them-- and I have even stayed in touch with them fifteen years later. Third, the department offered a variety of classes in everything from labor economics to public finance and all of these topics explored economics in a different way. There really was something available for anyone and now the department offers even more classes than when I attended UVA.

4. Your job title is Environments Policy Manager. In your own words, what is it that you do and how is your job related to your major?

I am the Environments Policy Manager at the Institute for Emerging Issues, a public policy organization housed at NC State University and founded by former Governor Jim Hunt.  In my job, I work collaboratively with individuals from all sectors and areas of North Carolina to build collective action in energy, infrastructure, transportation and the natural environment. I also teach U.S. Environmental Policy, Written Communication for Public Policy and other courses in the MPA program at NC State University.  Previously, I worked as a senior policy advisor for North Carolina’s environmental director and as a Presidential Management Fellow for the EPA.

The environmental and energy field is very divisive.  Economics plays an important part of the discussion of what the state of North Carolina should do to encourage everything from the development of renewable energy to the deployment of broadband in rural areas of the state.  The other factor that permeates most of the discussions I am part of is the role of the private and the public sector in solving energy and environmental issues. Depending on one’s viewpoint, there should either be a strong role for the government or the outcome should be left to market.  The conversations are interesting and economics inevitably has a big piece of the discussion.

5. What is an interesting project you’ve worked on?

One of the most interesting projects I worked on recently was developing a workshop for about one hundred stakeholders across North Carolina on the implications of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) on North Carolina’s future energy footprint.  The CPP’s carbon dioxide standards reflect “the best system of emission reductions” and each state is obliged to develop an individual program for compliance.  This set of regulations serves as a national signal for the end of coal as the backbone of our nation’s energy needs. Meanwhile, the Plan also opens up enormous market opportunities for manufacturers of energy-efficient products and components of renewable energy systems. North Carolina’s manufacturers excel in both of these product sectors.

6. What advice do you have for students about their time in the department in relation to preparing for next steps?

When I was in my third and fourth year I knew I wanted to work for a while before going to graduate school but I didn’t know where or in what field.  I found the professors an amazing resource to talk with about the opportunities available to economics majors.  Dr. Olsen in particular was really helpful and provided me the names of over a dozen organizations that hired research assistants for two or three years.  I interviewed with several before deciding upon Resources for the Future and that job has influenced my entire career trajectory. 

7. What do you know now you wish you had known while you were majoring in economics at U.Va.?  

I wished I had talked with more students who took different career paths following graduation. Economics is a major that leads to a number of careers. I never really considered consulting or law school but that was in part because I never had exposure to students who worked in those fields.  I believe that the best way to find your path going forward is to get exposure to as many people who have different careers.  Each time you learn something you don’t want to do it is a clearer path to finding what you do want to do.

8. Who (or what) has been influential in your career and why?

My graduate degree in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University was very instrumental toward my career path.  I had an interest in policy issues back in the early 1990s when I left UVA and worked in Washington, D.C. but graduate programs in public policy then were not nearly as prevalent as they are now.  I kind of backed into a public policy career after eliminating a Ph.D. in economics as one of my career options.  My boss at Resources for the Future where I worked as a research assistant had contacts at the Kennedy School of Government and suggested that I apply there for graduate school.

9. What is on the horizon for you/other career goals you have in mind?  

I have really enjoyed teaching public policy courses at NC State University and hope to continue teaching in the indefinite future.  Since I’ve been working about twenty years in public policy it is fun to teach public policy tools to the next generation of professionals.

10. Tell us a fun fact about you.

I really enjoy running and have already completed five half marathons throughout North Carolina.  I don’t think I’ll ever train for a full marathon but running is a great way to relieve stress and ruminate about things that require a lot of thinking.

 

Department of Economics

University of Virginia
248 McCormick Rd
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4182
Phone: 434-924-3177
Fax: 434-982-2904