Jung Hwan Koh, Kelly Hellman and Irene Mussio win Vijay Bhagavan and Carolyn Harper graduate student awards

It was a full house at the Graduate Student Awards ceremony held on April 24 where recipients for the 2017-2018 Vijay Bhagavan and Carolyn Harper awards were announced: 

The Vijay Bhagavan Teaching Assistant of Distinction Award

Jung Hwan Koh received the Vijay Bhagavan Teaching Assistant of Distinction Award for being a model teaching assistant. Jung is from South Korea.  After completing an M.S. in Hospitality & Tourism Management at Purdue University, he came to UMass and started the Ph. D. program in the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management.  While there, he had been a TA for several courses before entering the Resource Economics Ph. D. program in Spring 2013. Jung has amassed extensive experience both as a statistics TA and primary instructor since joining the department.  In 2013 and 2014, he was Emily Wang’s TA for Res Ec 212. Between 2016 and 2018, he was (is) Jamie Mullin’s and Bernie Morzuch’s  TA for Res Ec 213.  In 2017, he was Wayne Gayle’s TA for Res Ec 212.  Furthermore, in 2015 and 2016, he was the primary instructor for two Res Ec 212 Residential Academic Program (RAP) courses.

Prior to Res Ec 212 being taught in its current team-based-learning format, a perennial talking point among faculty who have taught Res Ec 212 and Res Ec 213 has been the need to make statistics discussions more productive by getting students actively involved.  Jung has moved us  in this direction by developing team-based learning techniques for Res Ec 213. His long involvement with our statistics courses, devotion to his students, and interest in making discussions a more rewarding experience by promoting active participation make Jung truly deserving of the Vijay Bhagavan Teaching-Assistant- of-Distinction Award.


Carolyn Harper Fund and Fellowship

Kelly Hellman and Irene Mussio, PhD candidates in resource economics, were awarded the 2017-18 Carolyn Harper Fund and Fellowship for scholarly achievement and exemplifying concern for social and environmental issues, and racial and gender justice:

Kelly Hellman joined the Resource Economics department as a PhD student in 2012 after completing double undergraduate majors (both with highest honors) in Economics and Environmental Science and an M.S. in Environmental Science from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Kelly has been a highly regarded teaching assistant receiving the Vijay Bhagavan Teaching Assistant of Distinction Award in 2015 and contributing significantly to the redesign of the statistics curriculum in the department as part of two course redesign teams. Kelly has also been the teacher of record for introductory statistics in the Honors College and introductory microeconomics in the University’s RAP program. As a teacher she has been described as "demanding", "tireless", "incredibly patient" and "kind". Kelly has regularly gone well beyond the roles normally taken on by graduate students in regard to departmental service as exemplified by her membership position on a (successful) hiring committee for a lecturer position. She served as a research assistant at UMass and RIT, leading to coauthorships in both cases and has developed her own research agenda addressing human contributions and responses to environmental risks ranging from flooding, to oil spills, to air pollution. Her scholarly work continues to directly engage with important economic, environmental, and social issues. Her research has already been published in the journal of Ecological Economics and landed her a post-doctoral position at the Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. 

Kelly's dedication to scholarly advancement and student service in the UMass community will continue, as she has accepted a faculty position at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. At our sister institution, there is little doubt that Kelly will continue the research, teaching, and service that has convincingly qualified her as a recipient of the Carolyn Harper Award this year.


Irene Mussio is a Fulbright grant recipient and a fifth year Ph.D. Candidate in the Department. In keeping with Carolyn Harper’s concern for social issues and justice, Irene is interested in the factors that impact risk preferences as well as the relationship between social aspects of risk and healthy decision making. This is a timely and important topic—both for individuals who are facing health-related decisions and for families, where parents are making decisions for their children or adult children are making health-related decisions for their elderly parents.

While our department does have several researchers who work in behavioral/experimental economics and environmental health (one of which is a member of Irene’s committee), we do not have a concentration in health economics. Irene has shown a great deal of independence, seeking out outside mentors and networking opportunities in this research community in order to supplement the specializations in our department. Examples include connections she has made at the Center for the Economic Analysis of Risk at Georgia State University and her upcoming CINCH Fellowship at the University of Duisburg Essen.

In Irene’s job market paper, “An (un)healthy social dilemma: using normative messaging to increase flu vaccinations,” she independently designed and implemented a public health campaign in conjunction with UMass Health Services. She managed the entire campaign – including meeting with and achieving buy-in from all of the relevant departments and organizations on campus. She extends the model of warm glow to incorporate the impact of messages on either the private or the public benefit of the vaccine in a manner similar to identity priming impacting utility. She then uses the experimental data from the public health campaign to examine the impact of different risk messaging—focusing on risks to self, others, or both—on the willingness to get a flu vaccine. She finds that social messaging is positively related to the probability of getting a flu shot. That is, individuals who see the ‘protect yourself and the community’ messages are more willing to get a flu shot than those who see only the community-messages or the self-messages. However, this result is predominantly driven by the response of women.

In addition to her research, Irene has been an outstanding teaching assistant winning the Vijay Bhagavan Teaching Assistant of Distinction Award in 2014. She has taught our University RAP course, Consumer in Society, several times with excellent ratings as well as the math camp for entering graduate students. She is an active member of the Department contributing in many ways – we are delighted to recognize her scholarship and citizenship with this award.