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Spotlights: 2013

Photo of Angela de Oliveira

October 18 & 19, 2013

Angela de Oliveira recently presented her work “Care Provision: An Experimental Investigation” at the Science of Philanthropy Initiative’s (SPI) 2013 annual conference. The conference was aimed at bringing together academics and practitioners to begin pushing the science of generosity forward in a more policy-relevant manner.

Dr. de Oliveira’s paper, which is part of a larger project funded by the National Science Foundation, introduces a new experimental model to capture key aspects of the care worker relationship. Her research looks at two major programs designed to improve the welfare of individuals who are care recipients and tests the effectiveness of those two programs.  Recipients of care services can be thought of as those in need of individual medical or educational services, such as the ill or elderly, or children.  Dr. de Oliveira asked whether worker training programs, which enhance worker productivity, are more effective than subsidy programs, which provide supplementary budgets for services such as home health care.  Supporters of worker training programs argue that better-trained providers have a direct effect on improving the welfare of their clients, while supporters of subsidy programs argue that using home-care subsidies allows households to directly provide or contract for needed care.  Using experimental economics, Dr. de Oliveira simulates a situation where a person in need of care is ‘provided for’ by a manager who can employ a care worker.  She then tests two programs designed to capture critical features of subsidy and training programs and finds that training programs have a larger impact on the welfare of care recipients than direct subsidies. Her study shows how lab experiments can be used to provide insight on the effects of potential policy alternatives. 
More information about the Science of Philanthropy Initiative can be found at:
Information about the conference, including webcasts, can be found at:

Photo of ResEc Interns

Spring, 2013

ResEc Interns Mark Van Orden, Heather Pekarovich, and Boris Gluz work with The Food Bank of Western MA on the adequacy of SNAP benefits in Western MA.

Does the formula that determines SNAP benefits accurately reflect the experience of people in Western Massachusetts? This was the question that ResEc interns Heather Pekarovich, Mark Van Orden, and Boris Gluz set out to answer in spring 2013 in collaboration with The Food Bank of Western MA. They found that the current formula used by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called food stamps) to determine the benefits of participants needs to be updated to capture the experience of people living in Western MA—particularly to reflect food and housing costs that are higher than the national average. Mentors for the interns’ work were Andrew Morehouse, Executive Director of The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, and Julie Caswell, Professor of Resource Economics.

Photo of Julie Caswell

August 1, 2013

Julie Caswell visits Capitol Hill to speak about her research on the economics of risk based food safety systems and how it’s been funded.

Julie Caswell is in Washington DC to begin her presidency of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA). While in Washington, Julie also visited Capitol Hill to give a lunch seminar on the House side and a briefing on the Senate side on her research. Congratulations Julie on becoming the AAEA President. We're all very proud to have Julie represent UMass and Resource Economics prominently on the national policy stage. >>More

Photo of Students holding ResEc sign

May 10-11, 2013

Resource Economics celebrated the accomplishments of our undergraduate and graduate degree recipients on May 10 and May 11!

Graduate and undergraduate ceremonies were held on May 10 at the Mullins Center (Graduate Ceremony) and McGuirk Alumni Stadium (Undergraduate Ceremony).  Bachelor degrees were earned by 83 Resource Economics students this May and 8 graduate students earned MS degrees in 2013.  The Department is proud to have been a part of these fine students’ educational careers.  We know they are off to do great things!  Congratulations all!

camera icon Undergraduate Commencement Slide Show
camera icon Graduate Commencement Slide Show

Photo of Award Recipients

April 30, 2013

Resource Economics Students Recognized with Departmental Awards and Scholarships

Resource Economics Students were recognized with Departmental Awards and Scholarships at the Isenberg School’s Awards Banquet on April 30, 2013. >>More

Photo of ISSR consultants

April 12, 2013

Ph.D. student Chris Burns consults on research methodology for the Institute for Social Science Research

Chris Burns, Ph.D. student in Resource Economics, is one of five advanced graduate student consultants working with faculty and students on research and research methodology in the new UMass Amherst Institute for Social Science Research. >>More

Photo of Kareem Agha and Ian Lapolla

April 5, 2013

Kareem Agha (founder and executive director) and Ian Lapolla (community manager) are part of the student team bringing TEDx Innovative Thinkers session to campus on April 13

ResEc students Kareem Agha (BS ’13) and Ian Lapolla (BS ’15) are part of the 100% student run team organizing the TEDx Innovative Thinkers session on campus on April 13. This is the first-ever TEDx at UMass Amherst. See more at:

Photo of MJ Alhabeeb

April 1, 2013

Professor MJ Alhabeeb participates in NY Times Debate on Teaching the Value of a Dollar to Young People

The NY Times debate focuses on “When young people need to understand compounding interest before they even graduate from high school, it seems more important than ever for parents to teach lessons about money as early as possible. But what lessons? Does an allowance for children create a sense of entitlement, or develop money management skills? Does a job during high school instill a work ethic, or put short-term gratification ahead of academics?”
Based on his research, Dr. Alhabeeb argues in response to these questions that “Jobs and Paychecks Are Learning Opportunities.” >>More

Photo of Sylvia Brandt

January 23, 2013

Sylvia Brandt’s asthma paper among top environmental health research of 2012

Congratulations to Sylvia Brandt! Sylvia coauthored a paper published in the European Respiratory Journal that has been named one of the top research papers of 2012. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences selected the paper as one of the top research papers of 2012. >>More

Photo of Snap Cover

January 17, 2013

Julie Caswell and Sheila Mammen are major contributors to a report released by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies

Congratulations to Julie Caswell and Sheila Mammen for their work on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) report released recently by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies! Julie (committee chair) and Sheila worked on the National Academies report over the past year that was released recently. SNAP is the largest such program administered by the USDA. The USDA asked whether it is feasible to objectively define the adequacy of SNAP allotments and, if so, to outline the data and analyses needed to support an assessment of SNAP adequacy. Their work, important to 1 in 7 Americans, can ultimately help provide participants greater opportunities to become more food secure.

>> The Report at a Glance (pdf)