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Spotlights: 2010

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November 30, 2010

ResEc Students Live with Supermarket Guru, Phil Lempert!

Students in Cynthia Barstow's Food Merchandising course were surprised on November 30th when their daily viewing of The Lempert Report for food industry news suddenly went live--and Phil Lempert, the Supermarket Guru, made a visit via Skype to the class to talk with them about food marketing.

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November 8, 2010

Christopher Burns and Bilal Janjua Receive the Vijay Bhagavan Teaching Assistant of Distinction Award

The Vijay Bhagavan Teaching Assistant of Distinction Award >>More

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November 8, 2010

César Viteri Mejía and David Timmons Named Carolyn Harper Fellows for 2010-2011

César Viteri Mejía. César is completing his Ph.D., with his dissertation focused on the impacts of tourism on the Galapagos Islands. His work is funded through a competitive grant from the Latin American and Caribbean Environmental Economics Program. César is Ecuadorian; he earned his Master’s degree at the Universidad de Concepción in Chile. César has been active in presenting his work at conferences such as the World Congress of Environmental and Resource Economists in Montreal and the Economics and Environment Network Symposium in Australia. He has taught microeconomics in the Sustainability Residential Academic Program at UMass Amherst.

David Timmons. David is completing his Ph.D., with his dissertation focused on the potential supply and cost of cellulosic biomass energy crops in western Massachusetts. He earned his M.S. degree from the University of Vermont; has done research on local food systems; has led undergraduate groups to Iceland to study renewable energy, technology, and resource economics; teaches a MBA course on Managing for Sustainability at Marlboro College; and has taught several courses in Resource Economics in the Residential Academic Program at UMass Amherst. He will join the faculty of the University of Massachusetts Boston in January 2011.

The Carolyn Harper Memorial Fellowship >>More

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September 29, 2010

Resource Economics Faculty-Student Meet & Greet

As part of its mission to bring faculty, undergraduates and alumni of Resource Economics together, the Resource Economics Society (RES), the department undergraduate student group, hosted this year’s Faculty-Student Meet & Greet. Several members of the ResEc family joined in for pizza, socializing, and conversation about graduate school, employment, internships, academic advising, courses, and more.

This marked the second of many events planned by the Resource Economics Society this semester. Earlier this month, a Resource Economics Career Fair Preparation Session was held and attendees heard from Kim Figueroa (Internship Coordinator, Isenberg Chase Career Center) and Julie Caswell (Chairperson, Resource Economics). The preparation session was centered on discussing how to present yourself and your Resource Economics degree.

Starting in the third week of October, RES has organized a three part Internship series for Resource Economics majors. Part one will focus on Student Experiences (Oct 20th) and hear from a panel of Resource Economics students about their experiences with past internships. The second part entitled Internship Process (Nov 3rd) will cover the ins and outs of the internship process and will be presented by Kim Figueroa from the Isenberg Chase Career Center. The third and final part of the internship series, Resumes and Interviews (Nov 17th), ties it all together with exercises to practice these necessary skills.

RES will also be making a field trip Nov 6th to the Berkshire Brewing Company to look at a local producer. Resource Economic classroom principles will be brought to life!

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September 2010

Dr. Sheila Mammen is awarded a grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), USDA Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Program award. 

NIFA project: Core Health Messages: A Strategy to Improve the Health and Well-Being of Rural, Low-Income Families

Sheila Mammen (PI) and an interdisciplinary team of researchers have received $350,000 from The National Institute of Food and Agriculture for a one-year study to improve the health outcomes of rural, low-income families with children and of the communities in which they live.

Research consistently demonstrates that rural, low-income families face greater challenges to their physical, mental, and dental health than the nation as a whole. This is partly due to structural factors such as limited availability and access to health services as well as inadequate health insurance coverage. It is also the result of factors embedded in individual, familial, and community culture. To alleviate these health disparities, it is necessary to promote an environment in which health is valued. If health information is timely, culturally relevant, based on principles of health literacy, and disseminated in a culturally acceptable manner then individuals, families, and communities are more likely to make better decisions and take appropriate actions that promote their health and that of their children.

This project proposes the creation of learner-driven Core Health Messages, which are developed and delivered in collaboration with rural, low-income families and their communities. Mammen and her colleagues will use the health findings of two of their research studies Rural Families Speak (RFS) and Rural Families Speak about Health (RFSH) along with the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordability Act of 2010 to create the Core Health Messages. The target audience includes ethnically diverse mothers (African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic, Native American, and White) who live in rural communities in 14 states and are the primary caregivers of at least one child between the ages of 0 and 12 and have an income that is 185% or less of the federal poverty line. The final Core Health Messages, presented in a culturally-acceptable everyday context, will be externally disseminated via multiple modalities.

Mammen’s research on rural low-income families includes:

Mammen, S., Bauer, J.W. & Lass, D. (2009). Life satisfaction among rural low-income mothers: The influence of health, human, personal, and social capital. Applied Research in Quality of Life. 4:365-386.

Mammen, S., Bauer, J.W. & Richards, L. (2009). Understanding persistent food insecurity: A paradox of place and circumstance. Social Indicators Research, 92:151-168.

Mammen, S., Lass, D. & Seiling, S.B. (2009). Labor force supply decisions of rural low-income mothers. The Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 30:1, 67-79.

Mammen, S. & Seiling, S. (2009). Policies that support the employment decision of low-income rural mothers. Consumer Interests Annual, 55.

Mammen, S., Dolan, E. & Seiling, S.B. (2009). Poverty spells and rural families: Who gets on, who gets off the welfare rolls. In Schroder (ed.) Consumer09: Proceedings for International Consumer Sciences Research Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland, 108-112.

Mammen, S., & Lawrence, F. C. (2006). How rural working families use the Earned Income Tax Credit: A mixed method analysis. Financial Counseling and Planning, 17, 51-63.

Mammen, S., & Dolan, E.M., (2005). Employment and obstacles to employment of rural low-income mothers in the Northeast. Rural Poverty in the Northeast: Strengthening the Regional Research Effort. College Station, PA. May 2005.

Photo of Julie Caswell (courtesy of Matthew Cavanaugh for The Boston Globe)

July 26, 2010
"She watches what we eat" Julie Caswell is featured in The Boston Globe discussing strategies for making the food supply as safe as possible. (Photo: Courtesy of Matthew Cavanaugh for The Boston Globe)
>> The Boston Globe news article

Photo of  Mike Moise

April 29, 2010
Mike Moise was awarded the Resource Economics Bootstrap Award at the Isenberg Awards Banquet this spring. Nine ResEc undergraduates were honored for their accomplishments.

Bootstrap Award: The creation of the Bootstrap Award was inspired by its recipient, Mike, who knowing he was in serious academic difficulty challenged himself and took 21 credits toward his major with a resulting term GPA of 3.96. When asked why he was pushing himself so hard his only answer was "Because I have to".

The Resource Economics Bootstrap Award will recognize those that pull themselves up by their Bootstraps "because they have to" and face significant academic challenges.

Isenberg School of Management Awards Banquet: Nine Resource Economics Undergraduate students were among the recipients of scholarship and awards presented at the annual Isenberg School of Management Awards Banquet. The generosity of alumni and friends of the Isenberg School and the Department of Resource Economics affords us the opportunity to provide financial recognition of the academic accomplishments of our students.

Mike Moise, Amy Pliska, Alicia Kane, Chris DiMilla, Trevor Keegan, Mariya Arodzero, David Gatautis, Laura Ahmadi and Drew Holt joined Isenberg peers, faculty, parents, alumni and donors for dinner and award presentations. Over 100 students were presented awards for their achievements in the past academic year.

Further to the Awards Banquet, Alicia Kane and Stephen Canale were awarded the Forest Scholarship in June 2010.

Congratulations to all award winners! >>More

Photo of Julie Caswell June 2010
Julie Caswell is Part of National Academies Committee Recommending a Risk-Based Approach to Food Safety for FDA

UMass News Release June 8, 2010: University of Massachusetts Amherst food safety expert Julie A. Caswell says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration needs to implement a risk-based approach to food safety using data and expertise to pinpoint where in the production, distribution and handling chains of food there is the greatest potential for contamination and other problems.

Caswell, who chairs the UMass Amherst department of resource economics, served on a committee from the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council that released a report on FDA effectiveness today.

The report says the FDA’s ability to discover potential threats to food safety and prevent outbreaks of foodborne illness is hampered by impediments to efficient use of its limited resources and a piecemeal approach to gathering and using information on risks. It concludes the FDA should be able to direct appropriate amounts of its resources and attention to high-risk areas and increase the chances of catching problems before they turn into widespread outbreaks.

Caswell contributed her expertise on the economics of producing safe food, the incentives companies have to produce it, and how regulatory programs can work most effectively to reinforce those incentives and assure food safety. “The committee report recommends that the FDA adopt a risk-based system—what that means is that the agency systematically plans, collects data on food risks and other factors of concern, selects interventions to improve food safety based on their effectiveness, and continuously evaluates whether the system is delivering improved public health,” she says.

Overall, the report offers FDA a blueprint for developing a risk-based model. It also outlines several organizational steps the agency should take to improve the efficiency of its many food safety activities, such as increasing coordination with state and other federal agencies that share responsibility for protecting the nation’s food supply. In addition, the report says Congress should consider amending the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to explicitly provide the authority FDA needs to fulfill its food safety mission.

“As recent illnesses traced to produce underscore, foodborne diseases cause significant suffering, so it’s imperative that our food safety system functions effectively at all levels,” says committee chair Robert Wallace, professor, College of Public Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City. He says FDA uses some risk assessment and management tactics, but that is often reactive and lacks a systematic focus on prevention.

Photo of Mimy Wang May 2010
Graduation 2010--Resource Economics Department in the Isenberg School of Management! Mimy Wang and 100 Fellow Degree Candidates Celebrate.

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Photo of John Stranlund May 2010
Professor John Stranlund was recognized with the Dean's Research Excellence Award for 2009-2010 from the Isenberg School of Management at a ceremony on May 18, 2010. Congratulations John!

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Dr. Stranlund’s research focuses in two areas:

The theoretical design and experimental evaluation of environmental policies: Dr. Stranlund’s interest is in how to enforce the latest generation of price-based environmental policies. These policies focus on controlling pollution through imposing a price on emissions from sources of pollution (i.e., an emissions tax) or by creating a market for pollution rights where the price to release pollution into the environment emerges through emissions trading. These policies tend to be efficient alternatives to traditional methods of controlling pollution that frequently dictated the use of particular types of control technology (command and control), and so are at the center of debates about how to control greenhouse gas emissions. However, no policy can control pollution efficiently if is not enforced well.

In 2009, Dr. Stranlund published five journal articles and one book chapter in the area of environmental policy design. For example, in a key article published in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, John and his co-authors show that the common policy recommendation that pollutants like greenhouse gases be controlled with a single emissions price is not generally efficient when the costs of enforcing pollution prices are taken into account. It is only when regulators have very poor information about individual sources of pollution that a single price can be justified. For the last half-dozen years, Dr. Stranlund has complemented his theoretical work in policy design with economic laboratory experiments to test the theories. Much of his current work in progress concerns the experimental evaluation of enforcement and compliance issues in dynamic emission trading policies. This work is supported by a $1 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The use and management of local common property resources in the developing world: For the last decade, Dr. Stranlund has been collaborating with doctoral students and faculty colleagues in an investigation of the local use and management of local common property resources in Colombia. This work features field experiments conducted with local fishermen and others whose livelihoods depend on the exploitation of a local natural resource. For example, an article just published in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization includes the results of field experiments designed to investigate strategic behavior by small-scale users of a local common property. Another paper published in Economic Inquiry concludes that government intervention in small-scale resource industries can sometimes complement local community efforts to conserve the resource, but can at other times crowd out (i.e., displace) local efforts.

>>Bibliography of Dr Stranlund’s Research, 2009-2010

Photo of Mike Chisholm April 2010
Mike Chisholm Speaks to R.E.S.

Alum Mike Chisholm returned to campus on April 7, 2010 for a talk sponsored by the Resource Economics Society (R.E.S.) Michael earned his BS in Resource Economics in 2003 and his MBA from Boston College in 2009. Mike was recently promoted to Customer Business Manager, CVS Team for Schering-Plough. He has an excellent background in category management and customer relations.

Mike talked about his career path since undergraduate graduation, how statistics and econometrics really give him a leg up in his business, being a young professional, and balancing work and life. A great talk! Thanks Mike.

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Photo of Erica Bruno and Dean Fuller March 2010
Erica Bruno is Congratulated by Dean Fuller on Receiving the 2009-2010 CSG Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy Scholarship for the Isenberg School of Management.

Senior Erica Bruno has been awarded a 2009-2010 Conservation Services Group (CSG) Scholarship of $8000. CSG established this scholarship fund to support students whose studies or research involve the promotion of energy efficiency, energy policy, conservation, clean energy, and sustainable living practices. One scholarship was awarded each in the Isenberg School of Management, the College of Engineering, and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Erica is the recipient from the Isenberg School and the only undergraduate among the three winners. Erica is studying Natural Resource Economics in the Resource Economics Department and spent a semester abroad at the University of East Anglia studying energy policy. Erica's faculty sponsors are Drs. Sylvia Brandt and John Stranlund. Congratulations Erica!

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Photo of Gina Angiolillo and Jackie Casaceli February 2010
Students Share Internship and Study Abroad Experiences

ResEc students shared their internship and study abroad experiences in a Workshop on February 19, 2009 organized by Prof. Sylvia Brandt, attended by Ginger Goldsbury of Career Services and Kim Figueroa of the Chase Career Center in the Isenberg School of Management and sponsored by The Resource Economics Society Undergraduate Club. The Workshop focused on students in the Natural Resource Option. Internship speakers included Andrea Dickinson (summer 2009 internship at Washington Parks and People through the Washington Center); Jackie Casaceli (summer 2009 internship at the Environmental Protection Agency); and Gina Angiolillo (summer 2009 internship at Industrial Economics). They were joined by Erica Bruno who spoke about her semester abroad studying energy and climate change at the University of East Anglia. Ginger Goldsbury presented a great how to on searching for internships and Kim Figueroa offered further ideas.

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