Undergraduate Economics Research Conference Set for Saturday

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The virtual event showcases student scholarship and features top alumni economists.

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Photo by Robert Gill
4/01/2021
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On Saturday, April 3, the Dartmouth Economics Research Scholars, a mentoring program designed to encourage undergraduate economic research, will host the inaugural Dartmouth Undergraduate Economics Conference. The event will include presentations of original research from 10 students and a keynote address and panel discussion featuring prominent alumni economists.

“The goal of this conference is to promote economic research among undergraduates. A lot of students, when they come into Dartmouth, don’t have that much exposure to economics in general,” says Emily Bjorkman ’21, an economics major who was a lead organizer of the event. “I’m hoping that more underclassmen come see what it looks like and are excited to participate.”

Bjorkman organized the conference with Associate Professor of Economics Elizabeth Cascio, director of the Dartmouth Research Scholars program; Assistant Professor of Economics Leila Agha; and Associate Professor of Economics Paul Novosad.

“I tossed out the idea of doing the conference as a not-thought-through idea over winter break because I’m a terrible presenter and wanted practice,” Bjorkman says. “Professor Cascio immediately put me in touch with possible advisers for the conference and a team of other students to plan, and the department really gave us the tools and support and encouragement to put it together.”

Bjorkman, a Class of 2021 Dartmouth Economics Research Scholar herself, will be presenting her paper “Playing the Blame Game: Teachers’ Unions and School Reopenings in Fall 2020” on Saturday.

The Zoom-based conference will feature morning and afternoon student-presentation sessions and a culminating keynote address by William Rogers ’86, a professor at the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations and director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. The conference will be followed by a virtual social event where participants, presenters, and panelists can meet informally using the Gather meeting app, which allows people to use an avatar to walk around a virtual space and hold spontaneous one-on-one or small group conversations.

“Careers in Economics Outside of Academia,” the alumni panel discussion held between the first and second sessions, will feature Sarena Goodman ’05, a principal economist with the Federal Reserve Board; Anirudh Jayanti ’14, a member of the Bates White economics consulting firm; Matthew Miller ’09, with Audible Inc.; and Carlo Pizzinelli ’12, an economist at the International Monetary Fund.

A recurring theme of the student research is the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, with paper titles including “How Do COVID-19 Related Export Restrictions Imposed on the U.S. Affect Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Prices?” by Samantha Goncalves ’21; “Impact of Violence on Infant Immunization: Evidence from Afghanistan and Implications for COVID-19 Vaccinations” by Gayeong Song ’22; and “Did COVID-19 Lockdowns in the United States Affect Air and Water Pollution?” by Kelly Westkaemper ’22.

Some non-COVID papers to be presented include “Gains From the Arctic: Counterfactual Predictions for the Northern Sea Route,” by Winston Chen ’22; “BOJ Purchase of TOPIX ETFs & Impact on Stock Returns,” by Revant Ranjan ’21; and “Does Earned Wage Access Reduce Payday Lending?” by Amy Hu ’21.

The conference is free and open to all members of the Dartmouth community. Registration is requested for planning purposes. Participants can register here. The full program is available here.

The economics department established the Dartmouth Economic Research Scholars program in 2013 to offer mentoring and support in economics research for promising undergraduates. The program features co-curricular activities such as dinner discussions, workshops, and peer exchanges in addition to opportunities for paid assistantships on faculty projects and advising for student-directed research, including senior theses.

William Platt can be reached at william.c.platt@dartmouth.edu.