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From CLAS in the news;

Kathleen Segerson (IDEAS), a professor of economics in CLAS, has been named by the Board of Trustees to fill the Philip E. Austin Chair for a three-year term.

The chair was established with contributions made in honor of Austin, who stepped down last year after 11 years as president of the University.

Segerson, who specializes in environmental and natural resources economics, law, and applied microeconomics, joined the University in 1986 and served as chair of the economics department from 2001 to 2005.

“Dr. Segerson is extremely qualified to serve in this position and brings to it an outstanding reputation as a researcher and teacher,” says Provost Peter J. Nicholls. “We are pleased to have someone in the chair who is regarded as a national expert in her field and who has dedicated her life not only to teaching and research but also to public service.”

A fellow of the American Agricultural Economics Association and the Association of Environmental and Resources Economists, Segerson was nominated for the position by former CLAS Dean Ross MacKinnon, who recently retired.

Segerson was awarded both the American Association of University Professors UConn Chapter Research Excellence Award and the UConn Alumni Association Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching last year.

“It is a great honor to be chosen to fill the Austin chair in its first three years,” says Segerson. “President Austin was very dedicated not only to the University of Connecticut as an institution, but also more generally to research and teaching related to public policy and the use of economics to understand and solve social problems. It is my hope that I’ll be able to contribute to his legacy through my work in environmental economics and the support made possible through this chair.”

Segerson serves on the Science Advisory Board of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and was recently a member of the U.S. General Accounting Office’s expert panel on climate change economics. She is the president-elect of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.

Segerson holds a PhD from Cornell University and a BA from Dartmouth College. — Karen A. Grava, CLAS ’73

Two master’s degree candidates in economics are on a mission to make the world a better place, starting in Guatemala, where a multitude of non-profit organizations are seeking donors and resources to help develop their country.

Justin Podbielski, CLAS ’07, and Maura Williams visited Guatemala last summer as volunteers. They were struck by inefficiencies in the development community, where individual non-profit organizations sometimes compete for the same resources or are unaware of the activities of other non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

At first, they saw this as an academic problem — this is what happens in the non-profit community when there are no profit incentives to govern your actions.

Then they realized that the reputation of an NGO functioned as an incentive. The more information potential donors have about an organization, and the more transparent the NGO is, the more likely donors are to support it.

“If you improve the information flow, you can use access to information as a way to improve the flow of donations,” Podbielski theorized.

That’s when the problem moved them to action. They found a solution in a familiar tool: the social networking web site Facebook.

Read more in the UConn Advance.

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