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Therese Comcowich Lucas earned her master’s degree in economics in 1952. She was the first woman to do so, and she was the first female teaching assistant in economics. The male graduate students in economics then named the group after a comic strip: Terry and her pirates. The Ansonia native now lives in retirement in Tucson, Arizona, but she criss-crossed the country over the years, following her husband’s job moves while she maintained her own active career as an economist and consultant.

Read more on the UConn College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Alumni site.

Anupam Nanda, 2006 PhD alumnus in Economics, has joined the faculty of Real Estate and Planning, Henley Business School at University of Reading (United Kingdom), one of the world’s leading centers for real estate education and research. His doctoral dissertation was advised by Prof. Stephen Ross, Prof. John Clapp, and Prof. Dennis Heffley. Previously, he worked with Deloitte , Market Intelligence group in Mumbai, and the Economics group of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in Washington DC. His research papers have appeared in Journal of Urban Economics and The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics. Anupam’s research interests are in real estate economics, empirical finance as well as urban economics and local public finance. He is currently working on the minimum services mandate for the real estate brokers.

Marina-Selini Katsaiti has recently completed her graduate studies at the Department of Economics of the University of Connecticut. Her PhD thesis, “Three Essays on the Economics of Obesity,” focused on different aspects relating to the economics of obesity (happiness, macroeconomic issues, health care costs). Selini defended her thesis in September 2009 under the significant and very valuable assistance and support of her advisor, Prof. Zimmermann, and associate advisors, Prof. Heffley and Prof. Randolph. Pieces of her thesis were presented in many international economics conferences and a section has been published in a book. In addition, an article outside her thesis, “Corruption and Growth Under Weak Identification,” co-authored with fellow graduates Philip Shaw and Marius Jurgilas has been accepted for publication by Economic Inquiry.

Selini is currently working as a researcher at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece), in the Department of Economics. In addition, she is working as an independent researcher for the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), a think tank in Belgium. Her research topics of interest include: economic growth, behavioral economics, corruption, trust and risk issues, and health economics.

When Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke speaks about economic issues, the nation listens. But who does Bernanke listen to?

One person on the short list is David J. Stockton ’76 B.A., ’76 M.A., who speaks almost daily with Bernanke in his role as chief economist for the Fed, the agency that directs the nation’s central bank, establishes national monetary policy and monitors the country’s economic health.

As director of the Federal Reserve’s Division of Research and Statistics, Stockton oversees one of the world’s largest economic research teams – approximately 290 economists, financial analysts, computer scientists, research assistants and other personnel. Stockton and his staff sort through and interpret information streaming from the country’s financial markets each day. One of Stockton’s primary responsibilities is presenting periodic economic forecasts to the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) on job losses, housing wealth and business spending. These reports help to determine how much you pay in interest on your credit card and how much banks may charge you for taking out home or auto loans.

Read more in the UConn Alumni Magazine.

Zeljko Bogetic, one of Professor Dennis Heffley’s former Ph.D. students, currently is serving as Lead Economist and Country Sector Coordinator for Russia in the Europe and Central Asia Region of the World Bank. A native of Montegro, Zeljko completed his dissertation (A Computable General Equilibrium Model of the Yugoslav Economy) in 1990. Soon thereafter, he entered the World Bank’s prestigious Young Professionals Program.

Zeljko has held a number of positions during his 20-year career at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Prior to his present assignment in Moscow, he served as a lead economist in the Africa Region of the World Bank, with primary responsibilities for Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, and before that he served as lead economist for South Africa and the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management (PREM) cluster leader for Southern Africa Customs Union countries at the World Bank. Zeljko’s command of five languages—Serbo-Croatian, English, French, Russian, and Spanish—has clearly been put to good use over the years.

In addition to his administrative duties, Zeljko has published books, scholarly articles, and papers on a variety of subjects: public finance reforms in transition economies; tax and expenditure policies; fiscal federalism; macroeconomic stabilization; dollarization and currency boards; infrastructure, productivity, and growth; and benchmarking of infrastructure performance. In addition to co-editing one the World Bank’s early volumes on transition economies (Financing Government in the Transition, 1995), he has published articles in the Journal of Comparative Economics, Challenge, the Cato Journal, World Development, Central Banking, Contemporary Economic Policy, South African Journal of Economics, Finance & Development, and Journal of Development Perspectives, as well as a number of papers in the World Bank’s Research Working Paper Series. Zeljko also leads a team of researchers that produce the World Bank’s Russian Economic Report, a prime source of information on recent macroeconomic conditions and policy developments in Russia.

Economics, like most disciplines, has become highly specialized, so it is not surprising that many economists focus their research on a narrow range of topics or issues. Not so for one of our Ph.D. alumni, Donald Vandegrift (IDEAS).

Don completed his doctorate in 1993 under the tutelage of Prof. Richard Langlois. Apparently Dick’s interest in a wide range of topics in the field of industrial organization rubbed off on Don, who currently serves as Chair of the Department of Economics in the School of Business at The College of New Jersey.

Over the years, Don has published papers on performance excuse under contracts (European Journal of Law and Economics, 1997), asset specificity (Eastern Economic Journal, 1998), energy use (Journal of Energy and Development, 1999), product warranty (Contemporary Economic Policy, 2001), risky strategies in “tournament competition” (Labour Economics, 2003), obesity rates (Health & Place, 2004), gender differences in competitive strategies (Journal of Socio-Economics, 2005), prescription drug spending (Southern Economic Journal, 2006), incentive effects in experimental settings (Experimental Economics, 2007), and hedge fund performance (Journal of Derivatives and Hedge Funds, 2009).

Don’s forthcoming work continues to reflect his exceptional versatility. A paper on hedge fund performance will soon appear in the Journal of Derivatives and Hedge Funds; his experimental analysis of differences in competitive behavior between men and women is slated for publication by the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization; a study of sabotage in tournaments has been accepted by the Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics; and the Annals of Regional Science will publish a paper on linkages between open space, house prices, and the local property tax base.

It is great to see our former students enjoying their work and sharing it with others. Don spoke at our on-campus 2008 Economics Reunion and Forum, and we are hoping that he will be back in Storrs next spring, when we repeat this successful event. Don and other former grad students presented research papers, participated in job-experience panels, met our current students and newer faculty, and reconnected with old friends and fellow alums. We will be posting plans for the next event, but it is clear that even in his current administrative role as Department Chair, Don has continued his lively line(s) of research and will have little problem coming up with a new paper for the 2010 reunion.

After leaving UConn with his MA in 2005, Steve Sugrue worked for Circuit City in Richmond, VA designing large-scale inventory demand forecasting systems and later moved to online/digital marketing. Since the company folded, he has been working for State Farm Insurance in Bloomington, IL as a Research Statistician, a PhD-level position. He does a lot of time series modeling related to banking deposit instruments and also some panel data modeling related to Internet consumers. He just started some work related to game-theoretic approaches to optimal financial product mixes over the customer life cycle.

The job is a mixture of economics and statistics. Steve does literature reviews to see how certain problems or classes of problems have been approached academically and he tries to adapt that to local needs. His group is more unconventional, in that it is bit of a think-tank in that it is called out to consult on the more esoteric issues that are not as clear-cut with respect to methodology choice and analytic flow. He states that his group’s job is to bring their bubble gum and duct tape expert opinions and experience and solve the problems. In this respect, the flexibility of the training of an economist, along with a few statistics classes have helped him a lot.

After completing his Ph.D. in 1991 under the supervision of Prof. Francis Ahking (IDEAS), Kenneth Daniels (IDEAS) joined the Department of Finance at Virginia Commonwealth University. A specialist in financial services and community development, Ken has published his research in the Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, The Journal of Corporate Finance, The Financial Review, and a rich variety of other professional journals. His most recent contribution is a co-authored paper titled “An Empirical Analysis of the Determinants and Pricing of Corporate Bond Clawbacks” in the Journal of Corporate Finance. For his earlier work on derivatives, he received the Sydney Futures Exchange Prize; the Eastern Finance Association offered similar recognition for a paper on investments.

Throughout his career, Ken has combined his academic research with various forms of public service. He serves as a Board Member of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Treasury Board, a group that oversees the state’s public banking deposits and debt and manages several state investment portfolios. He also is a Board Member of the Virginia Community Development Corporation and the Virginia Community Capital Corporation, the only non-profit bank holding corporation in the U.S.

Excerpts from a feature in the latest UConn Magazine:

In the more than a dozen years since she returned to Taiwan from Storrs, Lih-Chyi Wen ’93 M.A., ’96 Ph.D. has established a career as an environmental economist who continues to break new ground in one of the world’s emerging regions.

Wen, deputy director and research fellow in the International Division of the Energy and Environmental Research Center at the Taiwan World Trade Organization, is playing a crucial role in proposing new economic and environmental policies to aid her country.

Lih-Chyi has combined her economics training and her passion for environmental issues and used them to understand and improve environmental management in her home country of Taiwan, which faces numerous environmental challenges as its economy grows,” says Kathleen Segerson, Philip E. Austin Professor of Economics, who served as Wen’s advisor at UConn.

The respect is mutual. Wen says the key to her success at Storrs was the support she received from the faculty, particularly Segerson.

“She not only has a brilliant, analytical mind and great originality, which is evidenced throughout her teaching and research work, but she also takes care of graduate students as if they were her own kids,” Wen says.

The author of two books and dozens of commissioned articles on environmental policy as well as economic policy, Wen was named one of 2008’s Rising Stars in Taipei by the Central News Agency, selected by a 10-member panel of university presidents.

Read more here.

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