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Fall 2014 Newsletter Supplement

November 14, 2014

PhD Student Attends Lindau Conference

Matthew Wilson among top young economists to hear from Nobel laureates and world leaders.


In August, doctoral student Matthew Wilson attended the famed Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings in Germany. The meetings provided Wilson with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the latest research from 17 of the 38 living Nobel laureates in economics.

In addition to rubbing shoulders with 450 top young economists and networking with fellow PhD students from around the world, Wilson heard from global leaders—including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

For Wilson, the high points of the conference were the presentation given by Ed Prescott, most known for his Real Business Cycle model, and the opportunity to discuss some of his research with 2004 Nobel winner Finn Kydland. “That was a pretty amazing experience,” Wilson says.

Wilson was chosen to attend the conference from among a large group of PhD students nominated from across the country and around the world. He also received a sponsorship from the NSF for much of his travel costs. The remainder of his travel expense was covered by a fund created by generous donations from alumni and department supporters.

Faculty member George Evans, who recommended Wilson for the trip, states that “This was the fifth Lindau Meeting, and our department has an impressive record of having had one of our grad students nominated for each one.” In reference to Wilson’s third year research paper, Evans says, “Matt’s paper was a successful and provocative piece of research, making him an ideal candidate to benefit from this experience.”



November 4, 2014

Graduate student selected for dissertation workshop

Graduate Teaching Fellow Gulcan Cil is among 16 students nationwide invited to participate.


PhD student Gulcan Cil

The Western Economic Association International (WEAI) Conference (sometimes referred to as “The Westerns”) is a major annual event for many economists. For UO’s Gulcan Cil, it was a special opportunity to hone her presentation skills in preparation for the job market.


UO Economics GTF Gulcan Cil (fourth from left, in blue) is pictured alonside fellow students chosen to participate in the Graduate Student Dissertation Workshop hosted at the WEAI conference in Denver.

Cil was chosen to participate in the Graduate Student Dissertation Workshop—one of only 16 students nationwide invited to attend. “About half the students there were from the East Coast—not just schools in the West,” Cil says. “It was a great opportunity to present my work and get feedback from faculty members and other PhD students who didn’t already know me.”

In addition to having the opportunity to present her work to a small group of PhD candidates and a faculty advisor with similar areas of focus, Cil also was able to participate in mock interviews with a group of volunteer faculty members. “All they knew about me was what was on my CV and what I said in the interviews,” Cil noted. “I was able to find out what they thought of me and learn those things you might not necessarily know” about how she presented herself in interviews.

She also discovered one advantage she had as a GTF in the UO’s Department of Economics that students from many of the larger programs across the U.S. didn’t have. “I was the only one in my group with any teaching experience,” Cil says. “The opportunity to teach classes is not something every graduate student receives.”

2014 Economics Scholarships Announced

Five undergraduates receive Kleinsorge, Grace Miller scholarships.

Five undergraduate students studying economics have been selected to receive scholarships from the Department of Economics in 2014.

Kleinsorge Scholarship Recipients

This year’s recipients are Brady Cooley, Joseph Kim, Sergio Campos Ramirez, and Pedro Rivera.

brady_cooley_web_100x100Brady Cooley was born and raised in Cedar Rapids, IA, and attended a local community college before joining the Navy. After five years in military service, Cooley moved to Oregon to pursue a degree at the University of Oregon. He’s completing his senior year, and expects to graduate in spring of 2015. He hopes to go on to graduate school with the goal of teaching economics at the university level. Cooley was also the recipient of this year’s Grace Miller Scholarship.

Joseph Kim_web_100x100Joseph Kim is a junior at the UO. Originally planning to be a history major, Kim changed to Economics after his first term after taking an “Introducktion” course on the topic. He hopes to get a position in the private sector after graduation, possibly as an analyst.


Sergio Campos Ramirez_web_100x100Sergio Campos Ramirez is currently a senior at the UO. Born in Michoacán, Mexico, his family immigrated to the U.S. in 2002 to seek new opportunities. He graduated with honors from McKay High School. He enjoys reading and tennis, and lists Health Economics taught by Ben Hansen as his favorite course in the Department of Economics.


Pedro Rivera_webheadshot100x100Pedro Rivera is originally from Inglewood, CA, and moved to southern Oregon as a young child. He is a graduate of Phoenix High School. He is currently a junior studying economics and math. He hopes to attend graduate school and receive a PhD in economics, and would like to study behavioral economics and minorities in the United States.


About the Alanson H Kleinsorge and Grace Miller Scholarships

The Alanson H. Kleinsorge Economics Scholarship recognizes economics students who have faced academic challenges earlier in their college careers. The scholarship award is $1,500 toward a student’s college expenses. The Grace Miller Scholarship is a $2,500 award endowed by Grace Miller, a former UO Master’s student who went on to teach economics at South Eugene High School. The award goes to a UO economics student who is an Oregon resident and has an interest in pursuing a career in teaching.

Students are invited to apply for either scholarship at any time. Visit the Scholarships & Honors page for more information and a link to the application.

GTF Presentations in 2014

Graduate students within the department have been busy this year! Here’s a list of presentations given by our graduate teaching fellows in conferences and meetings throughout the nation and worldwide this year.

GulcanCil_100x100Gulcan Cil presented her paper “Heat waves: Effects on fertility decisions and birth outcomes” at the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (AERE) Summer Conference in Banff, Alberta, Canada. She also was selected to participate in the Graduate Student Dissertation workshop at the Western Economic Association International (WEAI) Conference in Denver (see related article).


BenF-F_100x100Ben Fitch-Fleischmann presented his paper “The political economy of aid flows after climate catastrophes: Micro-level evidence from Nicaragua” at the Sociedad de Economia de Chile (SECHI) annual meeting in Vina del Mar, Chile, and at the International Conference on Business Administration and Economics (ICBAE) at the Universidad de Talca, Chile. He also presented at the Northwest Development Workshop at Portland State University.


Kolstoe, Sonja_100x100Sonja Kolstoe presented “The value to birders of species abundance and biodiversity: A random utility model of site choice by eBird participants” (co-authored with Trudy Ann Cameron) at the WEAI Conference in Denver. In addition she presented her paper “Spatial context and valuing natural capital for conservation planning” at the 2014 Belpasso International Summer School in Italy.


Thacker, Michael_100x100Michael Thacker presented his paper “Telephony choices and the evolution of cell phones” at the Western Economic Association International (WEAI) Conference in Denver.



JonThompson_100x100Jonathan Thompson presented his paper “Culture and the coordination game” (co-authored with Chris Ellis) at the Central European Program on Economic Theory (CEPET) in Udine, Italy.



Wyer, Joe_100x100

Joseph Wyer presented his paper entitled “Tour complexity and mode choice: Do smart phone owners make different mode choices?” at the Western Economic Association International (WEAI) Conference in Denver. 

Remembering Barry Siegel (1929-2013)

Professor Emeritus Barry Siegel passed away on December 9, 2013.  Barry was hired by the UO economics department in 1961 to serve as its money and banking specialist. He retired in 1999 after establishing an impressive record of contributions to the Department, the College, the University, and general academic community. Barry’s long-time colleague, Joe Stone, offered the following highlights.

Champion of shared faculty governance. One of my first memories of Barry is of running into him as he was putting an AAUP membership brochure in my department mailbox. It took Barry about three sentences to convince me to join.  I soon learned that Barry played an important role in helping shared faculty governance work on campus. As a leader in the campus AAUP he helped to keep lines of communication between faculty and university administrators open and well travelled. Barry’s wife Jetta also played a pivotal role in the state level AAUP. Much of the best of shared governance in Oregon over several decades was due to the efforts of people like Barry and Jetta.  Such was the mutual respect and confidence among faculty and administrators in those days that it was not uncommon to have a university provost or president simply show up, take an empty seat, and be welcomed to participate in an AAUP meeting.  How times change.

Bitcoin pioneer.  The breadth of Barry’s professional interests were remarkably broad. After authoring a widely used monetary theory textbook, which was both Keynesian and monetarist in perspective, Barry’s interests turned to Austrian economics and free-market approaches to dealing with issues of the role of money in economic stability and prosperity.  Decades before the term “bitcoin” had even been conceived, Barry published a collection of papers on mechanisms for free-market money, including papers by Lawrence White and Leland Yeager.  Many of the issues bitcoins now face are addressed in this edited volume.

Lastly, my favorite memories of Barry are of his friendship and his gentle, kind and thoughtful nature.

Department Head Van Kolpin notes, “When I came to the UO in 1986, I was barely 26, had just finished my Ph.D., and my definition of a big city was a town with stop lights.  I will never forget how kind and understanding Barry was of my naiveté.  Lessons learned from his quiet and considerate mentorship prove invaluable to me to this day.”


Obituary from The Register-Guard (Eugene, Oregon)

[Originally published December 22, 2013]

Barry Norman Siegel, a Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Oregon, passed away peacefully on December 9, 2013 in Louisville, Colorado. Barry was born in Chicago to Mandel and Mary Siegel on June 4, 1929. He served in the army from 1946-1947, which enabled him to go to college under the GI Bill. Barry believed that this was the best professional decision of his life. He attended UCLA and then the University of California at Berkeley, where he met his wife, Jetta Rackow. Barry received his Ph.D. in Economics from UC Berkeley in 1957.

In 1961, following his first faculty position at the University of Utah, Barry moved his young family to Eugene to teach at the U of O. He taught at the U for 38 years, including a stint as Associate Dean of Liberal Arts during 1969-1972. In addition to his teaching and service at the University, Barry chaired a committee of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) that helped develop the Upward Bound program. He was also active in the community, serving as President of the American Civil Liberties Union of Eugene and on the committee opposing the concrete cross on Skinner’s Butte.

Barry’s career provided him the opportunity to travel with his family. In 1960 he received a Smith-Mundt grant to teach Economics in Monterrey, Mexico. In 1967, he was awarded a Fulbright grant to teach in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Although Yugoslavia was still under communism, he taught market-based economics. Following his retirement in 1999, he and Jetta moved to Colorado. Barry and Jetta used this time to see the world and enjoy their family. Barry always considered Eugene to be his home and frequently reflected on his wonderful life teaching and writing at the U of O.

Barry always spoke with great pride about his family. He is preceded in death by his parents and by his son, Daniel. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Jetta; brother, Richard (Brookline, MA); son, Ronald (Minneapolis, MN; wife, Carol); daughter, Naomi Soderstrom (Melbourne, Australia; husband, Holger); daughter in law, Diane McMurry (Seattle, WA; husband, Kevin); and seven grandchildren (Eva, Max, Elana, Nina, Joel, Kelly, and Rachael).

Photo Gallery (please click on thumbnails below to view the larger images)

October 27, 2014

Investigating Savings Habits in Africa

Professor Alfredo Burlando and a team of economics undergraduates conduct research on savings clubs in Uganda.

Why do some people save when others don’t? How is the way we save and borrow influenced by the people around us?

Professor Alfredo Burlando and a team of Economics undergrads are investigating these questions in relation to vulnerable populations by studying the members of savings groups in rural Uganda.

Savings groups are very prevalent in Uganda. Sponsored by organizations such as AVSI, the groups allow members to pool their savings and provide small loans to fellow members, in much the same way a credit union operates in the US.

Burlando and his team are collecting data from several such groups, hoping to find out if differences between the makeup of certain groups, such as a high number of relatively well-off members or members who don’t repay their loans on time, incentivizes participants to increase their saving and borrowing rate.

UO Economics major Biraj Bisht traveled to Uganda in July to assist Burlando with data collection, and helped train local residents to complete surveys for the study. “I have a new appreciation for data collection—it is so much work!” he says. “I’m excited to see the research that will come from all of the work we did.”

The experience wasn’t exactly what he had expected. “I thought I’d be working alone, in a strange country, and I wouldn’t know anyone,” he says. “But there were other interns from the US and Europe working on other projects, and it ended up being a great social environment.”

Bisht learned of the opportunity after taking Burlando’s Economic Growth and Development course in Fall 2013. “My parents work in development in Nepal, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to experience it for myself,” he says. He’s interested in pursuing a career in economic development when he graduates in December.

In partnership with the Study Abroad program, several undergraduate students have assisted Burlando in Uganda during the three-year project, giving them a rare glimpse into possible careers in development for students studying economics. Participation from students like Bisht has been supported by an agreement between the Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI) and the economics department.  Burlando is hoping to provide additional opportunities for students to assist with the research, subject to available funding from department supporters.

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