Resource Economics Banner

Spotlights: 2012

Photo of Bhagavan Award

December 11, 2012

Chris Podkowka Receives the Vijay Bhagavan Teaching Assistant of Distinction Award

The Vijay Bhagavan Teaching Assistant of Distinction Award >>More

Award Ceremony Document >>pdf
camera icon View Ceremony Awards Slide Show

Photo of Harper Award

December 11, 2012

Francesca Colantuoni Receives the Carolyn Harper Fellowship Award

The Carolyn Harper Memorial Fellowship >>More

Award Ceremony Document >>pdf
camera icon View Ceremony Awards Slide Show

Photo of Thando Zono

December 5, 2012

Resource Economics Undergraduate Thando Zono Receives the 2012 Female Fall Scholar-Athlete Award

University of Massachusetts seniors Dominic Skrajewski and Thando Zono were named the Fall Scholar-Athlete Award winners, as announced at the weekly UMass Sports Luncheon on Wednesday, December 5. The award is given during the Fall, Winter and Spring and recognizes the male and female athlete at the University who most exemplifies excellence in the classroom and in their particular sport. >> More

>> Presentation by Nathalie Lavoie
>> camera icon Slideshow

Photo of Christine Crago

December, 2012

Christine Crago Develops Sustainable Solutions for Social Problems

In a college town known as the "Nature and Science City" of Los Baños, Philippines, Christine Crago grew up surrounded by forests and lakes. Growing up in that environment instilled in her a love for nature, and led her to pursue the field of environmental economics.

As an assistant professor of resource economics, Crago combines her interest in social issues with an affinity for quantitative measures; the appeal is in applying economic tools to contemporary problems. She states her research is motivated by the need to promote sustainable energy sources and consumption practices in the developed and developing parts of the world.

Jointly selected by Commonwealth Honors College and by the Isenberg School of Management's resource economics department, Crago joined the faculty at UMass Amherst in 2012. She teaches offerings in both departments. Through teaching, she aims to "guide students in the right direction and give solid grounding in the theory and methods they need to be successfully."

Her first course, the two-semester honors research course "Implementing Sustainability and Social Responsibility in Today's Economy" offers seniors an opportunity to develop their honors thesis or project within a small peer group. The course helps students develop the tools to define and quantify sustainability. They explore what sustainability really means in a business, organizational, or regulatory context — how to measure sustainability and how to make a decision about whether or not to pursue a sustainability project.  She explains, "When you talk about sustainability and social responsibility it requires the whole picture of not just looking at a financial cost-benefit analysis, but taking into account the environmental amenities and social aspects of a certain project. That kind of scrutiny is relevant and useful in today's business settings."

By design, the course brings together students from different disciplines such as economics, engineering, and marketing and places them in collaborative projects. This kind of experience, says Crago, holds immediate significance for students. The students not only offer perspectives from their own fields, but also have the opportunity to compare how other fields contribute to the solution.

With degrees in economics and in agricultural and consumer economics, Crago's own research examines public policies designed to preserve the natural environment. She assesses if the strategies are efficient (they achieve goals at the lowest cost to society) and effective (they actually work) in meeting environmental goals while also satisfying human demand for basics such as energy or transportation. Her work has focused on examining the economic and environmental impacts of biofuels and the policies that promote them. Now, she has begun to study what incentives would be most useful in getting American households to conserve energy and invest in energy efficiency. Crago is considering incentives such as feedback, a "moral nudge" strategy of comparing neighboring households, as well as more traditional financial incentives, such as government subsidies, for reducing energy consumption.

Crago earned a bachelor's degree with honors from the University of the Philippines Los Baños.  She holds a master's degree in agricultural economics from Michigan State University and a PhD in agricultural and consumer economics from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She has published several journal articles and contributed to the Handbook of Bioenergy Economics and Policy.

>> Link to Commonwealth Honors College article
>> PDF version

Photo of Dan Lass

September, 2012

Dan Lass is the new Chairperson of the Department of Resource Economics

Dan Lass began serving a three-year term as Chair of the Department of Resource Economics on September 1, 2012. He takes over from Julie Caswell who served as Chairperson from 2006-2012. Congratulations Dan!

Photo of Lianne Hansen

September, 2012

Meet our new Chief Undergraduate Advisor Lianne Hansen

Lianne Hansen joined the Resource Economics Department as Chief Undergraduate Advisor on September 4, 2012—just in time for the new academic year. Lianne earned a B.A. from Bucknell University in mathematics and Spanish, with a secondary education certification. She earned a M.Ed. in Psychology with a concentration in student personnel administration from Springfield College and has great experience in higher education at Western New England University. She is very excited about the opportunity to work closely with ResEc students. Lianne takes over from the very able Donna Spraggon, the department’s first Chief Undergraduate Advisor. Donna will stay with ResEc taking on more statistics teaching. Thanks Donna and Welcome Lianne!

Photo of Christine Crago

July, 2012

Christine Crago Joins Resource Economics

Resource Economics is very happy to welcome Dr. Christine Crago as Assistant Professor. She will teach a Capstone Course on Sustainability and Social Responsibility in the Commonwealth Honors College. >>More

Photo of Julie Caswell

July, 2012

Julie Caswell is President Elect of AAEA

Julie Caswell has been elected to the Presidency of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association ( She will take the office of President-Elect for one year at the AAEA Meeting in Seattle in August, then serve as President, and Past President. Julie was recognized as a Fellow of AAEA in 2011.

Photo of Christian Rojas

May, 2012

Christian Rojas Receives Isenberg School's Outstanding Researcher Award for 2012

Christian Rojas has received the Outstanding Researcher Award for 2012 from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst! The award in based on his publication record over the last year, which includes:

C. Rojas. 2012. The Role of Information and Monitoring on Collusion. RAND Journal of Economics, 43, 78-109.

C. Eckel, P. Grossman, K. Johnson, A. de Oliveira, C. Rojas and R. Wilson. 2011. “Social Norms of Sharing in High School: Teen Student Giving in the Dictator Game.” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 80, 603-12.

C. Rojas and T. Shi. 2011. Tax Incidence when Quality Matters: Evidence from the Beer Market. Journal of Agricultural and Food Industrial Organization, 9, 1-33. DOI: 10.2202/1542-0485.1353.

Congratulations Christian!

Photo of Bernie Morzuch

May, 2012

Bernie Morzuch is Named Outstanding Teacher for the Isenberg School for 2012

Bernie Morzuch has received the Outstanding Teacher Award for 2012 from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst. Bernie is recognized for the excellence of his teaching of quantitative decision making skills (introductory and intermediate statistics) at the undergraduate level and of advanced econometrics at the graduate level. Every year Bernie is giving his all in the classroom—he was first recognized for teaching excellence on campus with the University Distinguished Teaching Award in 1986.

Congratulations Bernie!

Photo of Swetha Valluri

May, 2012

Swetha Valluri wins NAREA Certificate of Merit for her M.S. Thesis

Swetha Valluri will be recognized with the 2011 Master's Thesis Award of Merit at the meeting of the Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association in June 2012. Swetha’s thesis is titled "Determinants of Health Care Use among Rural, Low-Income Mothers and Children: A Simultaneous Systems Approach to Negative Binomial Regression Modeling." Her advisors were Sheila Mammen and Daniel Lass. Congratulations Swetha!

Photo of Rodolfo Magno and Professor Bill Bean

May, 2012

M.S. student Rodolfo Magno wins first place award in Green Strategic Planning Competition

Rodolfo Magno won first place in the "Green' Strategic Planning Competition" in the Building Materials 597S spring 2012 course at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The award was in recognition of exceptional content, preparation, and delivery for his work on "Sustainable Camps to Support Infrastructure Constructions in Brazil." Rodolfo is completing his M.S. in Resource Economics with his thesis “Environmental and Financial Cost Savings from Green Construction Technology in the Amazon Basin: A Case Study." Congratulations Rudy!

(Click photo for larger image)
UMass Permaculture at the white House

March 15, 2012

Lilly Israel part of UMass Permaculture Team honored at the White House 

ResEc Sophomore Lilly Israel is part of the UMass Permaculture Committee that traveled to Washington, DC in March to be recognized as one of the top five winners in the "Campus Champions of Change Challenge” at the White House. Lilly is a founding member of the Permaculture Committee. Her specialization in Resource Economics is Environmental and Natural Resource Economics. >>More

Photo of Peg Cialek

March, 2012

Peggy Cialek retires after 32 years of service!

Peggy Cialek retired in January 2012 after being at the heart of the Department of Resource Economics since 1979. At her retirement party in late February, colleagues spoke of her great work ethic, contributions to making ResEc feel like family, and enthusiasm for Halloween and 60s parties. Peggy and her husband Ed are looking forward to more free time to enjoy together and with friends and family.

Photo of Sylvia Brandt

January 27, 2012

Traffic Wheeze: Asthma rate and costs from traffic air pollution much higher than thought

A research team led by Sylvia Brandt with colleagues in California and Switzerland, have revised the cost burden sharply upward for childhood asthma and for the first time include the number of cases attributable to air pollution, in a study released this week in the early online version of the European Respiratory Journal. >>More

Photo of Joe Martens

January 23, 2012

ResEc Alum Joseph Martens Leads Sustainability in New York State

"As an advocate for sustainable business practices, I owe a great deal to my training as a resource economist," observes Joe Martens '78, who is completing his first year as Commissioner of New York State's Department of the Environment and Conservation. In that role, Martens has authority over many of the state's initiatives involving the environment, conservation, and natural resources, as well influence at the policy table on incentives for business sustainability.