Department News

Faculty News

Gunseli Berik and alum Curtis Miller were featured in an article for the Salt Lake Tribune and in an interview on Trib Talk for their work on the gender wage gap in Utah. (Prof. Cihan Bilginsoy supervised Miller's work during his undergraduate studies.)

Gabriel Lozada and Gail Blattenberger were recently featured on KUER for their work on the Lake Powel Pipeline Study.

Peter Philips was featured in the most recent issue of WalletHub "Study examining 2015's most and least recession-recovered cities

Tom Maloney The Econ Department has been collaborating with Voices for Utah Children on research internships this year. Here's an early product - a new study of the gender gap in Utah, co-authored by Econ undergrad Curtis Miller. 

Mark Glick has been appointed as the economics editor of the Antitrust Bulletin.  The Antitrust Bulletin is one of the leading journals in the area of antitrust law.  Articles in the journal are often cited in the judicial opinions concerning antitrust cases.  Dr. Glick works in the areas of industrial organization and law & economics.  He recently completed a paper on the economics of search advertising using data from Microsoft which will be published in the Review of Industrial Organization.  He is currently engaging in writing a paper on the economics of the Robinson Patman Act for the upcoming special issue of the Antitrust Bulletin.

Eric Sjöberg The Department of Economics welcomes new Assistant Professor Eric Sjöberg. Professor Sjöberg is completing his PhD in Economics at Stockholm University. His research examines the development, implementation, and effects of regulation related to environmental and natural resource issues. He has examined mismatches and inefficiencies between national environmental policy and local enforcement in Sweden and connections between market demands for fish and how demand and prices are affected by changes in the size compositions of catches, changes that are driven by global warming and regulatory incentives. Sjöberg is also part of an international research team examining “Arctic Futures” – the ways in which climate change and the reduction of the polar ice cap may affect natural resource extraction, which creates a demand for non-market valuations of potential future scenarios and the study of international bargaining over these issues. Sjöberg is teaching Econ 4650 – Introduction to Econometrics – in Fall 2013.

Gunseli Berik The students in Gunseli Berik's development economics and labor and gender courses are helping to bring new attention to neglected or poorly understood topics in these fields by contibuting essays to Wikipedia. Berik's effort is part of the Wikipedia United States Education Program. Her students first identify important issues related to economic development, gender and the economy, and related topics. They then construct thoroughly-researched essays that fill in these gaps. Berik's project has been widely covered in the local media, including features on KCPW radio and KSL and KUTV television.

Haimanti Bhattacharya, assistant professor of economics, has received a Faculty Fellow Award from the University Research Committee for 2012-2013. Bhattacharya will receive funding to work on a research project examining “The Household Status of Women in South Asia.” It is now widely understood that the status of women plays an important role in economic development and also that development has important effects on women's living conditions. What makes Bhattacharya's research unique is that she will examine many different dimensions of women's status at the same time, in several different countries (India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal), while considering both household level and individual-level factors that affect women. For instance, Bhattacharya will be able to examine whether household wealth and a woman's individual employment status have different effects on the woman's health, her role in household decision making, and her exposure to domestic violence. The evidence in Bhattacharya's study will come from the Demographic and Health Surveys of the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Haimanti Bhattacharya joined the Department of Economics in 2008 after spending a year as a post-doctoral fellow at the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Her PhD is from the University of Arizona

Student News

Joyita Roy Chowdhury received a $3,000  grant from the Global Change and Sustainability Center to support her project titled, "Cooperation and Water Resource Management: Experimental Evidence from Villages Affected by Natural Disasters in Rural Odisha, India"

Tyler Poulson began a career in finance shortly after receiving a B.S. in Economics from the University of Utah in 2003. However, over time he became exposed to the realities of climate change and its implications for human and economic systems. Beyond taking action in his personal life Tyler felt a desire to work on climate change solutions on a broader scale. This desire led to a return to the “U” in 2006 to pursue a M.S. in Economics with a focus on the nexus between climate change and economics. Upon completing his thesis, titled Carbon Emissions Reduction Strategies for Utah Households Operating Under a Budget Constraint, Tyler began working full-time on carbon mitigation activities. “Many of the challenges presented by climate change are best understood through the social sciences,” Tyler commented. “By analyzing opportunities for reducing our carbon footprints through an economic lens, we can reveal the most appealing pathways that simultaneously benefit individuals, communities, and the broader environment.” The ability to work on applied solutions first became a reality when Tyler worked as Environmental Sustainability Manager for the City of Park City, UT. “We were able to create over $250,000 in annual savings related to internal operations while also mitigating our carbon footprint. In addition to reducing the burden on local taxpayers these activities enhanced environmental awareness and built interest among staff for participating in our carbon mitigation goals.” Tyler has continued his work in the sustainability field and recently accepted a new role as Sustainability Program Manager for the City of Salt Lake City. The role of economics and his education at the U remain more important than ever. “Inspiring a more holistic mindset is one of the most pressing challenges and opportunities when it comes to the economics of climate change. As we awaken to the true costs associated with carbon emissions, entire systems will evolve to reflect a more rational thought process that supports long-term well-being. We have the knowledge and tools to effect this change today, now it’s a matter of reflecting the urgency of the climate challenge in our decisions and priorities.”

Suranjana Nabar-Bhaduri completed her PhD at the University of Utah in September of 2011. Her dissertation was entitled A Structuralist Approach to Analyzing India’s Productivity, Employment and Export Performance. Since November 2011, Suranjana has been working as a post-doctoral fellow at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-range Future at Boston University. Suranjana describes her work at the Center:

“The Pardee Center is a multi-disciplinary research center specializing in policy-centered development research, with an emphasis on the long-term sustainability of the process of growth and development. Central to its approach is the recognition that sustainability is a multi-faceted issue involving environmental, gender, financial, social, cultural and political factors, besides requiring a joint effort and co-operation on the part of countries. While at the Center, I have extended my dissertation work, and also developed new areas of research. My dissertation explored the productivity, employment and export dynamics of the Indian economy at the sectoral level (in agriculture and manufacturing); the balance of payments constraint of India; and the factors that have contributed to reducing this constraint in the post-liberalization period. As a post-doc, I have published a Pardee policy brief that develops the policy implications of my dissertation findings in greater detail, specifically emphasizing the need to complement liberalization with industrial and employment generation policies in a developing country, and suggesting the forms that these policies could take. I have also co-authored a policy paper with Dr. Matías Vernengo on the unsustainability of India’s services-led growth path in the September 2012 edition of the economics journal Challenge.

Additionally, I have been a member of, and contributed a paper to, a Task Force initiative at the Boston University Center for Finance, Law and Policy on the role of remittances in post-conflict economies. This paper will be published as part of a Task Force Report later this year. I am currently in the process of finalizing a paper that analyzes the sustainability and financial implications of India’s trade and current account deficits. I show that India has relied on remittances, services exports and capital inflows, to finance these deficits, and argue that all three sources entail elements of fragility, especially if the deficits continue to increase. Policy efforts aimed at improving the competitiveness of merchandise exports so as to reduce the magnitude and persistence of these deficits therefore seem to be the need of the hour. I have also recently begun preliminary research for a paper that seeks to analyze the effects of trade liberalization on poverty in India by using multi-dimensional poverty measures.

Besides this, I have authored op-eds for economics blogs like Triple Crisis, and for the Argentinean newspaper, Pagina/12. I have also been involved in the activities of the Pardee Center. In April 2012, I was a co-organizer of a Pardee Roundtable Discussion on the need to go beyond GDP-based measures to measure and evaluate human development and progress. In September 2012, I organized and moderated a Pardee House seminar on the factors that have contributed to the growth of the economies of Brazil, India and China, the potential challenges, long-term prospects and the policy implications.”

Award Winning Economics Students:

Congratulations to the following Economics undergraduate majors who have won scholarships from the College of Social and Behavioral Science:

  • Kya Palomacki (Connections Fund Scholarship)
  • Shuwen Wang (Dan and Jan England Scholarship)
  • Elena Nazarenko (Mark and Shelly Hardy Scholarship)
  • Jiaju Xu (Dave and Tami Macfarlane Scholarship)
  • Irina Slaughter (Donald and Carolyn Yacktman Scholarship).

Congratulations also to our PhD students who have won scholarships and research fellowships from the College and the Graduate School:

  • Jacqueline Strenio (Earl and Elies Skidmore Scholarship)
  • Richard Haskell (Herbert W. Gustafson Memorial Fellowship)
  • Diksha Arora (University Graduate Research Fellowship).

Finally, congratulations to graduating senior Shelly Spence, who has been recognized with the Young Alumni Association Outstanding Senior Award.

Henrique Morrone (PhD 2012)In December, Henrique Morrone (PhD 2012) recently received the Economic Studies of the Ministry of Finance Prize from the Brazilian Ministry of Finance - in the field of growth, economic development and institutions- for a paper entitled “Distribution, Structural Change and Economic Expansion in a Two-Sector Model Applied to Brazil.” Morrone’s paper was published at the Ministry of Finance website. This work was considered the best paper in development economics submitted to the ANPEC conference- the association of national economic centers of graduation in Brazil. It is based on Morrone’s dissertation (Three Essays on Distribution and Economic Expansion of a Dual Economy), completed under the supervision of Professor Codrina Rada. In this work, Morrone builds a Structuralist Computable General Equilibrium model (SCGE) to investigate the impact of macroeconomic policies on the Brazilian economy. The model describes an open, developing economy with two sectors (formal and informal), two commodities (tradable and nontradable), and two classes (workers and capitalists). A central thesis of the study is that redistributive macroeconomic policies, mainly income transfers toward workers, spur economic growth in Brazil. Morrone employed different simulation exercises to investigate whether distributive macroeconomic policies in favor of labor boost economic activity. His findings underscore the importance of these policies to promote economic growth.

Of his work since leaving Utah, Morrone says, “Currently, I am an economic researcher at two public institutions - the Department of Agricultural Development and the Foundation of Economics and Statistics. My work involves policy analysis and its effect on the South of Brazil. I’m working on building a regional social accounting matrix and a structuralist model to assess the impact of external shocks (exchange rate shocks) and regional policies on the economic structure of the south of Brazil. Additionally, I’m studying the relationship between exports and labor productivity in the South employing causality tests and Bayesian econometrics.”

Mark Price (PhD 2005) is a labor economist at the Keystone Research Center (KRC) where he has worked since 2004. The KRC is a non-partisan research and policy development institute based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania that works to promote and advance economic and social policy that leads to more broadly shared prosperity. KRC is a member of the Economic Analysis Research Network hosted out of the Economic Policy Institute as well as the State Fiscal Policy Initiative operated by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Mark's work at a state based "think-tank" involves policy analysis and advocacy on a wide range of issues including prevailing wage law, unemployment insurance, payday lending, economic and workforce development and tax and budget policy. Advocacy involves fielding questions from reporters (see “Skills Don’t Pay the Bills, New York Times Magazine 11/20/2012), testifying before the state legislature and making public presentations on current policy issues and research. Mark's best known research since joining KRC was a nationally recognized report tracking the educational qualifications of the early childhood workforce in the United States. Mark's recent work for KRC has included a report on the high cost to taxpayers of school bus privatization and evaluation of the relationship between the state control of alcohol sales and alcohol related motor vehicle fatalities. You can find Mark’s economic policy blog at

Doug Petersen, a Salt Lake City native and former Jewell J. and LaRue J. Rasmussen Scholar, graduated from the University of Utah with an H.B.S. in economics in 2009. Now a law student at New York University, Doug credits the Economics Department with placing him on a career trajectory in international economic policy and law. Shortly after the introductory Principles of Economics course began, Doug knew that he had found his major; upon enrolling in International Economics, he knew that he had found his niche. Struck by the passion that his Economic Development professor, Gunseli Berik, had for the subject, Doug pursued the field further, ultimately writing his honors thesis on the adverse effects that U.S. agricultural subsidies have on farmers in Central America. After graduating, Doug earned an M.Sc. International Political Economy from London School of Economics and worked as a trade policy analyst for the Cato Institute in Washington, DC. At NYU, his studies focus on investment, development, and trade. His long-term goal is to help craft market-oriented global economic policies through a career spanning government, private practice, and international organizations.“Had my economic development professor not been so dedicated to our course – and then to my senior thesis – I never would have considered pursuing graduate work in economics,” Doug recently stated. “And that means that everything else that has followed would not have occurred.”

Katie Kormanik Builds on Economics and Math Background to Become Educational Entrepreneur. As a student at the University of Utah, Katie Kormanik (Economics HBS, Math BS 2010) became convinced that education is a vital determinant of individual economic fortunes and national economic development. She also held the view that dedicated individuals could help improve the delivery of education where it is most needed. Her Honors Thesis, “Student Volunteerism and Educational Development: The Cases of Ghana, Chile, and China,” examined the contribution that student volunteers could make in promoting improved education in countries at different stages of economic development. After completing her degree, Kormanik entered the International Comparative Education master’s Program at Stanford University. Katie says, “My economics and mathematics majors well-prepared me for the economics of education, quantitative methods in social science, and development theory classes at Stanford. For my thesis, I used the Education Longitudinal Study’s (2002) dataset to analyze the relationship that factors such as peers may have with student effort. Throughout the 11 months of my master’s program, I got a broad sense of the issues in education that exist today.” Since completing her master’s degree, Kormanik has worked as a research consultant at the Math inquiries Project. She also works full-time writing math curricula that will initially be used on digital notebooks throughout the nation but will one day be made into hard-copy textbooks. “The lesson plans that I write are aligned to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, innovative standards that emphasize critical thinking and deeper conceptual understanding.” Her long-term plans combine the growth of her business, providing opportunities for new graduates, and contributing to education policy. “Rather than an employee, I am an independent contractor. I hope to continue increasing my client base and one day expand my sole proprietorship into an LLC with employees to help with math development projects. Specifically, I want these employees to be students or recent graduates, since I feel that young minds are underutilized in math education development. Other long-term goals are attending law school to study the legalities of education policy-making, and working as a consultant for UNESCO.”