Summer has finally arrived in Madison. For a while, we were not sure it would ever arrive. Although the season brings a little slower pace to campus, Taylor Hall continues to stay abuzz with activity, among students, faculty and staff. Below I touch on some of this year’s highlights to date and introduce some of the plans we have for the coming year. As in the past, I have chosen some key words to describe our small but mighty AAE engine.
IMPRESSIVE The spring commencement was held the second week of May, with another batch of AAE graduates moving on to exciting new opportunities. The department’s hooding/graduation celebration for students and their families was a great success. Five PhDs, five Masters, 15 REDA, and 40 undergraduates completed their degrees; in addition, 42 undergraduates completed one of our certificates in either development economics or agricultural business management. While some students will continue to further their education at the graduate level, others will be taking positions around the country, from Epic Systems here in Madison, to Pepsi Co in Texas, to research positions on agricultural mechanization in Kenya. See photos on Facebook. We wish all of our graduates well, and encourage them to stay connected with the department and with UW through uwalumni.com.
Our fourth class of M.S. Resource and Energy Demand Analysis (REDA) cohort continue to find great placements in the energy industry in Madison and beyond. The 2019 REDA class included twins Brett and Zack Marohl; both will be working for the Department of Energy in Washington D.C. The Summer issue of CALS GROW Magazine featured six REDA grads and the impactful work they are doing around the country to manage energy, resources and the environment. This intensive master's program prepares you for a career in less than a year. Learn more HERE.
I continue to be impressed by our students’ capabilities, maturity and creativity. Similar to last year, I had the opportunity to teach the Capstone course for our undergraduate majors. Students’ projects this year helped the UW’s UniverCity Year partnership with Green County, informed the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) to better understand millennials’ banking preferences, analyzed sustainability for Madison’s future public market and proposed a number of exciting entrepreneurial ventures for golf courses, CrossFit training, horse training, landscaping, and CBD oil production. Two students even created their own clothing line, Earthforc3.
At the graduate level, department awards were presented in the spring. Licheng Xu received the annual Barbara Forrest Research Paper Prize, which recognizes the best paper produced by a pre-dissertator PhD student. Honorable Mention was awarded to Pukitta Chunsuttiwat and Ana Paula Melo, for a paper they co-authored. Irene Jacqz received the Bromley Paper Prize, awarded to an outstanding AAE doctoral candidate with the best paper. Honorable Mention went to Justin Winikoff. PhD student Shuwei Zeng was recognized with the Barbara and Thomas Lyon Scholarship for Cooperative Involvement. Established within the UW Center for Cooperatives (UWCC), the award supports graduate students who have an expressed interest in cooperative business.
In addition, three of our students received summer field research grants from the UW`s Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS). Erik Katovich is spending two months at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, as a visiting researcher in the Energy Economics Group. His work is focused on Brazil`s governance of a recent oil boom and the effects of the boom on municipal governments and upstream firms. Vikas Gawai is in India to investigate key aspects of a national level policy, Clean India: Clean Schools. He will be meeting with policymakers and schools for this pilot study. In the future, he wants to study the impact of this policy on health, enrollment, and perceptions of the schoolchildren impacted by the policy, in order to make policy recommendations. Ana Paula Melo is also in Brazil. Ana Paula received the Scott Kloeck-Jenson Fellowship to conduct her pre-dissertation field work. She is studying how affirmative action policy in college promotes equality of opportunity. Through her research, she hopes to obtain countrywide and detailed local evidence on the private and social returns of a large-scale affirmative action program.
Continuing the Brazil connection, Marin Skidmore, AAE PhD student and Fulbright Scholar, was recognized in June by the Secretary of Agriculture of Brazil, for her work on a project, Connections Between Water + Rural Production, where she is studying “Green water” (soil moisture) and “Blue water” (surface/underground water) on farming production in the state of Rondônia, Brazil.
This month a number of our faculty and students will be attending the 2019 AAEA Annual Meeting in Atlanta, participating in presentations and poster sessions. Gaurav Doshi will present his paper, “Effect of Transmission Integration on Prices of Congestion Revenue Rights: Evidence from the Texas electricity market". Mizuhiro Suzuki will be presenting joint work with fellow student Ana Paula Melo on the effects of heat stress on exam scores in Brazil. The work of these students is a fine example of the continuing tradition of high quality research within the department. If you are attending AAEA, we'd love to see you at the Wisconsin reception Monday evening.
DEVOTED Our faculty continue to strive and thrive. Steve Deller’s work on community development was recognized at the end of last year with the Walter Isard Award for Scholarly Achievement from the North American Regional Science Council. The award recognizes scientists who have made significant theoretical and methodological contributions to the field of regional science. Recently Steve’s writings on the entry of Foxconn into Wisconsin’s state economy has received much exposure. Nick Parker was recognized with a Vilas Faculty Mid-Career Investigator Award. This is a great honor and confirms that CALS and campus hold Nick and his work in the same high esteem that we do here in AAE. Within the department, congratulations are due to Guanming Shi, for her promotion to full professor. Guanming is the faculty lead for the new Visiting International Student Program (VISP) and the Masters Professional Option (MS-PO). Additional kudos to Sheldon Du, for being named the Renk Professor for 2019 and to Jean-Paul Chavas, for his re-appointment as the Anderson-Bascom professor.
In staff news, Kathy Martin-Taylor retired after 37 years at UW-Madison, 33 of those spent helping and supporting faculty and staff in Taylor Hall. We wish her the best in her retirement even while we will miss her kindness, enthusiasm, and dedication to the department. Last month Anne Reynolds, former Executive Director of the UW Center for Cooperatives (UWCC) and Faculty Associate in AAE, was inducted into the Cooperative Hall of Fame for her significant contributions in support of the cooperative form of enterprise. Although retired, Anne continues to work in the field by developing and directing workshops on strategic planning, board training, and business feasibility and through her involvement with the Madison Cooperative Development Coalition, implementing a $3.2 million City of Madison program to create jobs and increase equity by developing unionized worker co-ops.
The work of the department continues to evolve. Late spring we hosted the 16th annual Midwest International Development conference. As usual, an excellent slate of research on development topics was presented by researchers from across the US and around the world. Our keynote speaker Oriana Bandiera, professor at the London School of Economics, presented her work on how to think about and re-think the incentives in bureaucracy in organizations.
This fall we are pleased to welcome new assistant professor Andrew Stevens who adds to our expertise in the Economics of Agriculture. Andrew, whose recent research spans agricultural labor, land, and production economics, holds a UC-Berkeley ARE PhD and was previously an assistant professor at Mississippi State University. His research and teaching will help revitalize our Economics of Agriculture sub-field at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
We are also pleased that campus approved a faculty cluster hire proposal on freshwater sustainability that AAE helped champion. We will be searching for a new faculty member in the economics of water issues. Cluster hires foster collaborative research, education and outreach by creating new interdisciplinary areas of knowledge that cross the boundaries of existing academic departments, providing for new research tracks and collaborative opportunities to address complex societal problems. In Wisconsin, water sustainability is a particularly salient issue, where many emerging resource management challenges are related to water quality and water scarcity. Thanks to AAE faculty Dan Phaneuf for his work on this proposal.
GIVING In April UW-Madison held its first-ever Day of the Badger, inspiring alumni and friends to give generously to their favorite departments, units and causes. In AAE, we devoted the day to the Graf-Groves Fund and a challenge match for the first $2000. Thanks to all the donors who participated, we have a solid foundation of funds towards our $20,000 goal. You can still show your Badger pride by helping us raise the remaining $13,000 to support renovation of the Graf-Groves conference room. Find more information on the AAE Giving page.
As you can see, AAE continues the traditions of engaging, relevant and quality research and education, while still managing to enjoy the campus traditions like sunsets on the Terrace, Babcock ice cream, and sailing with Hoofers. Wherever you are these summer months, we hope that you are enjoying your favorite summer pastimes, keeping cool and staying curious. If you find yourself back in Madison, stop by Taylor Hall and say hello, or drop us a line. We'd love to hear from you!
Jeremy Foltz, Chair
2019 PhD graduates (L-R): Shuwei Zeng, Charng-Jiun Yu, Jordan van Rijn,
Alexey Kalinin (Nelson Institute), Esteban Quiñones and Jessica Zhu.