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Xiaoming Li defended his PhD dissertation under the supervision of Prof. Ross on Monday, April 25, 2011.

Theoretical models and empirical analyses argue that mortgage underwriting is a dynamic process in which previous mortgage and housing market conditions affect current mortgage approvals. Neighborhoods likely differ in important ways and over important events or shocks that influence both housing prices and mortgage underwriting decisions. This potential endogeneity complicates the causal analyses and failure to control for neighborhood heterogeneity risks confounding spurious and true state dependence. Xiaoming’s dissertation attempts to examine the housing dynamics and distinguish between sources of time persistence on neighborhood mortgage underwriting. Specifically, Xiaoming extends traditional and recently developed dynamic panel data techniques for use of repeated, clustered cross-sectional individual mortgage applications linearly and nonlinearly, respectively.

Xiaoming now heads to Freddie Mac as a Credit & Prepayment Modeling, Senior. We wish him the best of luck!

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke could unfortunately not make it to the “Life after UConn” event organized by the Association of Graduate Students in Economics last Friday. Instead, Yanna Wu spoke.

Dr. Wu graduated with a Ph.D. in economics from UConn in 2004, under the supervision of Prof. Ray. Right after that, she joined PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. in their New York office. She currently is a manager in the transfer-pricing group, which is a part of the tax practice, providing tax and economic consulting services for multinational enterprises on their inter-company pricing arrangements. Transfer pricing is a multidisciplinary field that encompasses accounting, tax, economics, finance, and law. Her main responsibilities include project solicitation and management.

Dr. Wu covered the following topics: (i) the current job market for new Ph.D. graduates in economics; (ii) potential job opportunities; (iii) differences between working in academia and in industry; (iv) how graduate students can prepare for the job market; and (v) her experience. After the lecture, Dr. Wu answered questions from graduate students.

Juan-Pedro Garces defended on 4 August 2010 his dissertation under the supervision of Prof. Susan Randolph. The main topic of his dissertation is how education contributes to economic development. In one of the chapters, he pays special attention to the quality of education, trying to determine whether private schools deliver more educational quality than public ones, with special reference to the case of Chile, his native country. The dissertation also tackles the issue of the influence of population density on productivity, and how is affected by the level of education of the population. For this purpose, the study uses panel data on a sample of more than 100 countries, mostly developing ones. The third chapter of the dissertation focuses on institutions, testing the mainstream literature on the effects of institutional governance on economic growth and development. His work tries to determine the way in which the level of education affects institutional governance, finding a new channel through which education can enhance economic growth.

Juan-Pedro will be a visiting instructor at Wake Forest University, North Carolina.

Gulgun Bayaz-Ozturk defended her dissertation on July 20, 2010 under the supervision of Prof. Kenneth Couch. Her dissertation titled “Three Essays on Income Inequality” analyzes the contribution of labor market inequality to overall income inequality in the light of demographic changes in the United States from 1970s into the mid 2000s. In addition, she carries out a cross-national comparison and investigates the trends in intra-generational mobility and the underlying factors of educational earnings differentials in the United States and West Germany.

In September, Gulgun starts her new job as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging and Longevity at Hunter College of the City University of New York.

On June 28, 2010, Michael Stone defended his dissertation entitled “Three Essays on the Economics of Tort Law.” Stone’s dissertation focused on three distinct areas relating to tort law: the enactment of caps on punitive damages, the impact of taxable costs statutes on settlement rates, and the optimal level of attorney advertising intensity. In the first of these papers, Stone utilized hazard analysis to uncover some support for an economic model justifying caps on punitive damages, though there was evidence that political pressure by the legal services and insurance industries played a role in cap enactment. In his second essay, Stone utilized an ordinary least squares regression with a wild bootstrap and HC3 correction to find some evidence that taxable costs statutes (laws which permit the victorious party at trial to recover authorized litigation-related expenses from the losing party) decreased the rate of settlement. And, in his final essay, Stone produced a theoretical model which weighed the benefits of deterrence against the costs of litigation and advertising to obtain an optimal level of attorney advertising intensity. Each of these works was prepared under the tutelage of his major advisor, Professor Thomas Miceli.

This fall, Stone will be heading to Quinnipiac University as a visiting assistant professor of economics.

Maroula Khraiche defended her dissertation on Monday, June 7th 2010. Entitled “Essays on the Economics of Labor Migration,” her dissertation analyzes the macroeconomic effects of migration patterns that are influenced by different types of policy. In particular, she examines the popularity of temporary worker permits based on how the presence of temporary workers affects the earnings of various demographic groups within a host country. She also examines the implications of trade policy, and how reduced trade restrictions can result in increased migration from a country. Finally, she also considers how labor market policies such as the minimum wage can affect migration across sectors with a developing economy. In all her work, conducted under the supervision of her adviser, Prof. Christian Zimmermann, Maroula uses calibrated theoretical models to generate predictions, and then tests those predictions using empirical data.

Next year Maroula will be an Assistant Professor of Economics at Colorado College. Although she will undoubtedly miss the economics department here at UConn, Maroula is very excited about her new position and new department. We wish her the best of luck.

Lei Chen defended his dissertation in April 2010. His thesis focused on the productivity and efficiency of general dental practices in the U.S. His research lies at the intersection of applied microeconomics, health economics, and operations research. He is going to take a joint position of assistant professor in residence at UConn Health Center and UConn Avery Point. During his study at our department, Lei worked with his major advisor, Prof. Subhash Ray on a variety of projects and published a couple of papers in journals such as the International Journal of Production Economics and the Indian Economic Review.

At the UConn Health Center, Lei will continue doing empirical studies in dental care, especially the effectiveness and efficiency of dental services at Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). He will also teach principles of macroeconomics and principles of microeconomics at the UConn Avery Point campus in the next academic year.

Recent graduate Brian Volz, advised by Prof. Thomas Miceli, has accepted a tenure track assistant professor position at Assumption College in Worcester, MA. Brian will be leaving UConn, where he currently teaches Intermediate Microeconomics and Public Finance, to join the Assumption College faculty for the Fall 2010 semester. Brian’s research focuses on discrimination and productivity in the professional sports industry. His research on discrimination in professional baseball has been published in the Journal of Sports Economics. He also recently presented his research at the Eastern Economic Association Annual Conference in Philadelphia. Brian plans to continue his research on labor and sports economics as a member of the Department of Economics and Global Studies at Assumption College.

Assumption College is a private, Catholic college with 2,150 undergraduate students. Assumption offers a classic liberal arts education where economics is one of 39 undergraduate majors. Brian will be one of seven full time faculty members in the Department of Economics and Global studies. He expects to teach a variety of courses including Microeconomics, Labor Economics, and Public Finance.

Zinnia Mukherjee defended her dissertation in December 2009, and is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics at Connecticut College, New London, CT. Her dissertation, titled “Three Essays on Conservation of Endangered Species”, analyzes the effectiveness of policies involving regulatory threats in controlling stochastic externalities. In addition, the dissertation analyzes the welfare effects of unilateral conservation policies in an open economy under alternative market structures and resource management regimes. Zinnia’s advisor is Prof. Segerson.

Currently, Zinnia is working on two new research projects. The first is funded by the UConn Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering through a Multidisciplinary Research Award that Zinnia received in 2009. The project develops a bio-economic discrete choice model to analyze how fishers decide to allocate their fishing effort among various fish species and fishing zones, given that species vary in terms of their sensitivity to marine hypoxia. The impact of marine hypoxia on fish landings is estimated for several Long Island Sound fisheries located in different areas along the coast of Connecticut. The second project looks at the impact of differences in U.S. state laws on the incidence of crime against women (sexual crimes) and the potential migration of repeat offenders across states to target preys more easily and escape harsher penalty sentences.

At UConn, Zinnia has taught a wide variety of undergraduate courses. She had been actively involved with the Association of Graduate Economic Students (AGES) throughout her grad school years and presided over the organization in 2007-2008. She is currently enjoying her work experience at Connecticut College.

Monika Lopez-Anuarbe defended her thesis on Friday, February 19, 2010, under the supervision of Prof. Dennis Heffley. Her dissertation examines the time and money transfers between elderly parents and their offspring, particularly inter vivos monetary gifts by parents and time assistance by children. Using a unique panel database containing detailed information on thousands of families over a 10-year period (1993-2002), Monika was able to uncover some interesting links that earlier cross-sectional studies have missed. The analysis suggests that intergenerational transfers between parents and their children are planned processes that unfold over time and are affected by the characteristics of the parents and the offspring. The study also helps to identify specific state policies that have been most effective in encouraging family-based health care for the elderly. As a graduate student, Monika taught courses at the Storrs, Hartford, and Avery Point campuses, as well at Trinity College and Wesleyan University. Since 2006, she has taught principles courses in microeconomics and macroeconomics, intermediate microeconomics, health economics and industrial organization as a Visiting Instructor at Connecticut College. For the past several years, Monika also has published various elements of her research (Long-Term Care Interface Journal, 2007), co-authored papers based on earlier team studies (Journal of the American Dental Association, 2005), and has presented her findings at several professional conferences and academic seminars.

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