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Department News


Greetings from the Head


The two years since our previous newsletter have flown by, and I welcome the opportunity to discuss our recent accomplishments, the current state of the department and our plans for the future. Although the Illinois budget impasse has presented challenges to the entire university, our efforts to raise resources along with the careful stewardship of the college and university place us in a strong position to weather the storm and continue to build upon our successes in research and in the classroom.

The directors of graduate and undergraduate studies provide program updates below, but I want to highlight some of the most noteworthy accomplishments made possible by the outstanding work of our faculty, staff and students. This year our graduates of our PhD program did extremely well in the job market. Our capacity to fund research assistantships led to a number of student-faculty joint publications in peer-reviewed journals, and we believe that these played a major part in the job market success. We have also expanded funding to support undergraduate research, and this has almost certainly contributed to job placements at Federal Reserve Banks three years running. Research positions at the Federal Reserve are wonderful stepping stones for graduate work in economics, public policy and other fields. Increases in the number of majors also indicate that our curricular changes and efforts to elevate the quality of instruction have been successful in both increasing the number of majors and raising participation in the Economics Club. The number of women majors has grown particularly quickly, as has the ascension of women to leadership positions in the Economics Club. We are eager to continue attracting students with diverse interests and backgrounds.

The state budget impasse and related financial pressures have curtailed hiring and program spending this year, but our aspirations to become a leading applied economics department remain, as do our commitments to providing excellent undergraduate and graduate programs with the resources needed to support our diverse student body. The procurement of research grants by a number of faculty members enables us to fund research assistant positions, run a research-lunch seminar series, bring in prominent economists from outside UIC, and support a tutoring and mentoring program for undergraduates. As we describe below, we have also developed an MA Program in Applied Economics that has received approval to begin operation this summer. We expect this program to generate substantial revenue and provide some insurance against further declines in state support.

I also encourage you to consider how you might be able to help and support our students and faculty. A growing number of alumni have returned to speak to the Economics Club, and financial support helps us to maintain programming in the face of budget pressures. Knowing that we have the support of our alumni will provide a great boost as we endeavor to provide the best education and research opportunities for our undergraduates, graduate students and faculty. You can make a gift online at

I have been at UIC for five years and had the opportunity to teach and advise a number of recent alumni, and I look forward to building upon these relationships and meeting many more in the coming years. It has been an honor to head the Economics Department, and I look forward to enjoying the privilege of serving as department head for another five years.

Best, Steven Rivkin, Department Head


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A New Direction for Graduate Education

By Professor Darren Lubotsky


I am delighted to take over as the new Director of Graduate Studies and am excited about the direction of our program. Working with graduate students is one of the great pleasures of being a faculty member at a research university. Our students are bright, motivated, curious, and have a diverse set of interests and backgrounds. I learn from their research and they continually push me to better understand and explain concepts that I may have taken for granted.

Over the last several years we have made a series of changes to the curriculum to emphasize empirically-based applied research, especially in the fields where our department has a relative strength. All of our students now take a rigorous three-semester sequence in econometrics that has an increased emphasis on tools to credibly estimate causal effects. Under the direction of Professors Erik Hembre and Benjamin Feigenberg, our core courses in Microeconomics have been retooled to emphasize the practical applications of price theory to applied research. The transition from courses to independent research is particularly challenging and so a major focus of our efforts is to have students begin their research earlier in the graduate career. To help students through this process, students now write an original research paper in their third year under the direction of two faculty members.

This fall the Department welcomed nine new PhD students to the program. I look forward to getting them better, especially next semester when I teach their Econometrics class. I know I speak for all of my colleagues when I say that we are honored that they chose our department to study economics.


Look at what our new Ph.D.’s are up to!

I am especially happy to report that twelve of our students earned their Ph.D. in 2015 and 2016.  I had the pleasure of working directly with most of them in some capacity and enjoyed getting to know them and learning from their fascinating research projects. I am incredibly proud of all of their accomplishments and excited about the opportunities in front of them.

Patrick Baude is an Assistant Professor the University of Toronto, specializing in labor and education.

Moiz Bhai is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, specializing in health, labor and education.

Pavel Dramski  is a senior economist at the Partnership for a New American Economy (NAE).  NAE is a not-for-profit organization with a goal of passing comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. by making the economic case for immigration.

Anuj Gangopadhyaya is a research associate in the Health Policy Center at the Urban Institute, Washington, DC. His primary research investigates links between health and human capital.

Irina Horoi is an economist at Amazon Headquarters in Seattle, Washington. She analyzes the impacts of Amazon Business Loans on third party Sellers' business and the channels that drive that business performance on the platform.

Tyler LaPlante is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics at Pomona College, Claremont, California, where he teaches Health and Microeconomics. He uses methodology from behavioral economics and neuroeconomics to better understand consumption and labor supply behavior.

Cuiping Long Schiman is a postdoctoral fellow at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. Her research focuses on health economics and policy evaluation, where she has written on child care policies, maternal human capital investment, and prescription drug insurance and patient health. She is currently studying the association between early to middle life cardiovascular health and later-life health outcomes and health care costs.

Jeffrey Schiman is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Georgia Southern University. He is also a research affiliate at the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. His research interests include the economics of education, labor economics, and public economics, and he has published on topics including principal and teacher quality, the educator labor market, and the return to classroom instruction time.

Richard Schwinn is a Research Economist for the Office of Advocacy at the US Small Business Administration. He and his team wrote a publication using reproducible R-code, describing the state of small business around the country.

Naveen Singhal joined the staff of the Congressional Budget Office.

Thomas Walstrum is employed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Michael Yang is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics at St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY. His research interests include international economics, public finance, and time series analysis. Currently, his research focuses on the relationship between economic openness and fiscal policy.



Improving our Undergraduate Program

By Professor Evelyn Lehrer


A few years ago we made several revisions to improve our undergraduate curriculum.  A major change was to add a weekly discussion session to the Principles of Microeconomics and Macroeconomics classes. This revision has been received enthusiastically by students. They greatly value having an opportunity to meet with TAs in small sections, where they can go over homework problems and ask questions. The graduate students have also appreciated the opportunity to get on-the-job training and develop their skills as teachers, with close mentoring from the experienced faculty who teach these classes.

We also revised our course in Health Economics so that the only prerequisite is Principles of Microeconomics.  Many students preparing for careers in the health care sector have been interested in this course, and we now offer it every semester including summers.  Similarly, our non- technical courses in the Economics of Education, Economic History and Law and Economics are accessible now not only to economics majors but also to students pursuing majors in other disciplines.

The recently developed course, Freakonomics, is filled to capacity each time we offer it. Students have also been pleased to see a course on Behavioral Economics added to our offerings. In addition, last year we resumed offering two popular courses that had not been in our schedule for a long time – Sports Economics and Environmental Economics.

Our more mathematically oriented students have appreciated the opportunity to take Game Theory - a course we are now offering in collaboration with the Mathematics Department.  Among students who have plans to pursue graduate studies, several are involved in research projects with faculty members, and a number are working on senior theses to fulfill one of the requirements for graduating with highest distinction. 

Each semester, two or three of our top students volunteer to participate as tutors in the Econ Club Tutoring program. This program provides help to students who are struggling with 100- and 200- economics level classes.  In response to feedback we received from students, we recently expanded it to include a peer mentoring component as well.  Selected top students are excited to participate this Fall in the annual Fed Challenge program under the leadership of Professor Roberts. As they prepare for the competition, students apply knowledge acquired in several courses, including Monetary Theory, Macroeconomics, and Econometrics, and hone their skills in presenting economic analyses. Graduates of our program have commended Fed Challenge as an extremely useful extracurricular activity sponsored by our department.


Economics Club

The Club has many new members this year, with strong attendance and lively discussions at our weekly meetings. More so than in previous years, many of the Club’s guest speakers are graduates of our department’s BA, MA and PhD programs. We are excited that one of them was the first President the Club ever had, Pauline Adams; and another was the student who developed the Club’s first website, Mariel Teune. Other speakers in this year’s schedule include representatives from various government institutions and business firms, and Economics Department faculty. As always, the Club’s goals are to provide opportunities for students to learn economics outside of the classroom and to acquire information about possible career paths for economics majors. The Club also seeks to facilitate networking that may lead to internships and jobs.

For students who serve as officers, the Club also provides opportunities for the development of skills in the areas of leadership, written and oral communication, and information technologies. Several students are serving as officers this year: Franchesca Cristoforo (President), Jessica Mueller (Vice-President), Emmanuel Ruiz (Webmaster and IT Officer), Ahmad Atra (Assistant to the Webmaster and IT Officer), Emely Flores (Public Relations Officer), Rodrigo Garcia (Treasurer), Amena Siddiqua (Secretary), and Magdalena Kowalkowska (Logistics Officer). Cody Shadoin, Paul Curtiswittenberg and Jeffrey Peterson are serving as Assistants to the President.

At our Spring banquets of 2015 and 2016, several students received departmental awards for exceptional academic performance and for outstanding leadership/ service.  Some students also received UIC awards (The Laurette Kirstein Scholarship and the Chancellor’s Service Award).


Announcing the MA in Applied Economics program

This summer the Economics Department will inaugurate a new MA in Applied Economics program. This program is designed for students who desire an MA degree in economics as either a stepping stone to a PhD program or a career that requires such training. Such careers typically involve data analysis, and the emphasis on empirical economics will prepare students for these professions. The curriculum covers economic theory and econometrics in a manner that deemphasizes mathematical derivations. Rather it focuses on problems and questions found in empirical research and the development of skills relevant to a wide range of applications.

Consistent with the UIC mission, the MA in Applied Economics program will provide a wide range of students not prepared for PhD-level study with the educational opportunity only a leading research university can offer. Our expertise in health, labor, education and public economics will be used to prepare students for jobs in these sectors and for studies at the PhD level in programs that offer the opportunity to conduct research in these areas of economics and public policy.

In addition, the program will provide much-needed revenue to support PhD students, undergraduates and faculty research. Little or no financial aid will be offered to students entering the MA program in Applied Economics, and we will share the revenues with the college of liberal arts and sciences and the university. We expect the income to offset declines in state support and enable us to expand our support for graduate and undergraduate student research. Of course funded research assistant positions also raise faculty productivity and make UIC a more desirable and exciting place to work.



Professor Emeritus Ali Akarca

Professor Akarca, despite his retirement last year, continues to publish his research pertaining to Turkish politics and economics.  He has become a leading expert on these issues, and regularly shares his views and analyses in the Turkish media.  His latest publication, “Turkish Voter Response to Government Incompetence and Corruption Related to the 1999 Earthquakes,” (with A. Tansel) was published in the 2016 Journal of Economic Studies, Vol. 43, No. 2, pp. 309-335.In 2015, “Putting Turkey’s June and November 2015 Election Outcomes in Perspective,” was published by Insight Turkey, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp. 81-104.  He also presented two papers, “Single Party Governments as a Cause and Coalitions as a Consequence of Coups in Turkey” at the 15th International Conference of the Middle East Economic Association, Doha, Qatar, 23-25 in March 2016 and “Darbeleri Doğuran Tek Parti İktidarları ve Koalisyonları Doğuran Darbeler: Döngü Devam Ediyor mu?” (Coups Caused by Single Party Governments and Coalitions Caused by Coups: Does the Cycle Continue) at the Siyaset, Ekonomi ve Toplum Araştırmaları Vakfı (SETA, Foundation for Political, Economic, and Social Research), Ankara, Turkey, in April 2016.

Professor Marcus Casey

Professor Marcus Casey’s research has focused broadly on issues related to neighborhood transition, housing price dynamics and urban amenities, education, and poverty.  He recently coauthored a forthcoming in American Economic Review, Papers and Proceedings: “Does the EITC Buffer Against Neighborhood Transition? Evidence from Washington DC.” Other research studies and conference presentations have covered topics such as identifying racial/ethnic price differentials in housing markets, dynamic impacts of crime on housing prices in Chicago, measuring the dynamics in charter school quality in Texas, heterogeneous responses to being assigned to academic probation in college, and the impact of gentrification on public school enrollment patterns in Chicago

Professor Frank Chaloupka

Professor Frank Chaloupka is lead editor of the soon-to-be released monograph "The Economics of Tobacco and Tobacco Control."  The monograph is expected to be released in mid-December, 2016, as part of the National Cancer Institute's tobacco control monograph series.  It is the first in the series to be produced in collaboration with the World Health Organization.  More than ten years in development, involving over 60 authors (including several UIC faculty members and graduates) and 70+ reviewers from around the world, the monograph provides a comprehensive look at the economics of tobacco demand, supply, and control, with a focus on research from low-and middle-income countries. In 2015, at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Abu Dhabi, Professor Chaloupka received the American Cancer Society's Luther Terry Award for Exemplary Leadership in Tobacco Control for Outstanding Research Contribution.

Professor Ben Feigenberg

Professor Feigenberg is working with Professor Darren Lubotsky to study how the passage of state-level legislation mandating the use of E-Verify, an electronic employee work eligibility verification system developed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, has affected local migration flows, formal and informal labor market participation of undocumented residents, and labor market outcomes for native workers. In order to investigate how E-Verify usage has affected patterns of immigration and labor market participation, they are using panel data from the American Community Survey and Quarterly Workforce Indicators data files, in conjunction with panel data on E-Verify queries and Mexican household survey data on U.S.-Mexico migration flows. To isolate the effects of E-Verify, the professors are using state-by-year variation in E-Verify passage along with within-state variation over time in the predicted labor market coverage of E-Verify legislation. This work is designed to improve the quality of evidence on the impacts of sub-national immigration legislation that is available for immigration policymakers and the general public.

Professor George Karras

Professor Karras’ research continues to focus on macroeconomics and international economics. In a number of recent papers, he investigates the relationship between inflation and its volatility. His estimates from the US, Japan, and the UK show that, contrary to conventional wisdom, reducing inflation below a certain value may actually increase its volatility. This has
important implications for monetary policy if this volatility-minimizing inflation threshold is higher than the central bank’s inflation target. In other research, he estimates the growth effects of tax changes in the OECD countries and finds that they are asymmetric: tax increases reduce output by more than tax cuts increase it. In another project, he looks at the effects of macroeconomic volatility on the current account, where his evidence is consistent with the theory of precautionary savings: periods of heightened (relative) uncertainty result in increased national savings and thus an improvement in the current account balance.

Professor Evelyn Lehrer

Professor Lehrer’s findings show that most empirical analyses of divorce in the U.S. have used use pooled data sets with all racial and ethnic groups combined, and simple controls for race/ ethnicity. This is a concern, because there are large differences in socioeconomic status across the groups, and the data sets used in the various studies contain only limited information on socioeconomic characteristics. 

In “Women’s Age at First Marriage and Marital Instability in the United States: Differences by Race and Ethnicity” Professor Evelyn Lehrer and graduate student Yeon Jeong Son examine the relationship between women’s age at first marriage and marital instability. They take advantage of a nationally representative U.S. data set that has a sample size big enough to permit estimation of separate regressions for the marriages of white, black, and Hispanic women. Focusing on reduced-form estimates, they find that for white women the probability of dissolution falls with age up to ages 30-32 and thereafter the curve flattens out. For black women, marital instability decreases with age only up to ages 24-26. For Hispanic women, marital instability falls from age ≤20 to 21-23 and then the curve flattens out; beyond ages 30-32 the curve turns upward. Explanations for these patterns are suggested based in part on the fact that for white women, but not for their black and Hispanic counterparts, delayed entry into marriage is associated with a small increase in non-marital fertility and a pronounced increase in education. The striking differences across the three groups in the shape of the curve relating age at marriage to marital instability suggest that pooling all groups together would lead to misleading conclusions. The findings of this study underscore the desirability of conducting separate analyses by race / ethnicity wherever possible.

Professor Emerita Deirdre McCloskey

Professor McCloskey, despite her retirement last year, reports she has never been busier.  She states, “Deirdre has been crazy-busy since she "retired" in August of 2015.  She finished her trilogy on The Bourgeois Era with volume three, Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World (University of Chicago Press), and since then has been on the road more or less continuously peddling its central ideas, or scribbling about them at home in Chicago.  For example, in October 2016 she was in China for a few weeks doing so​, after receiving honorary degree from the Universidad Adolfo Ibañez, Santiago, Chile (and seeing a show in her honor in the south of the country of the Lipizzaner horses!).  She's written a lot of journalism, too, for the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, both of which seem to provide the proverbial 15 minutes of fame.  A little like being on the old Oprah show.  She reckons she is healthy, but at 74 one never knows, do one?”

Professor Emeritus John McDonald

Professor McDonald presented talks about his book, “Chicago:  An Economic History,” published by Routledge, 2016, at the University of Pennsylvania and Roosevelt University.  His second book, “Rethinking Macroeconomics: An Introduction” also came out in 2016.  He will be teaching a course based on the book at Temple University in Spring 2017.  Professor McDonald was also bestowed the title of Penn Institute for Urban Research Scholar this Fall.

Professor Lawrence Officer

Professor Lawrence Officer continues to teach and mentor the instructors for the department’s sections of Micro and Macro for Business Administration students.   He has also been very involved with the media granting interviews.  The Chicago Tribune interviewed him three times this year, topics being gas prices, consumer spending, and what the World Series meant to the local economy. He also was interviewed by the Illinois News Network on the decline of manufacturing jobs in Illinois, and on prime-age workers leaving the state. Professor Officer appeared on the Cliff Kelley Show (WVON am 1690, Chicago) to discuss the American aging workforce.

Professor Ben Ost

Professor Ost states, at both the national and local level, increasing the rate of college attendance has become a major policy goal. President Obama has called this an "economic imperative" and has launched a variety of initiatives aimed at restoring the United States' lead in the rate of college attendance. While there is little doubt that on average the economic returns to college are high, recent increases in the amount of student debt as well as relatively high student loan default rates have prompted many to question whether college pays off for all students. In other words, are some students actually better off dropping out of college? Assistant professor Ben Ost, graduate student Weixiang Pan and Temple University professor Doug Webber seek to provide evidence on this question in an ongoing research project.  In order to answer this question, they focus their research on low-achieving students who are at risk of college dismissal due to poor grades.  They then examine how earnings at age 30 are affected by whether or not a student is dismissed from college.  They find that dismissal significantly reduces the future earnings of low-performing college students, suggesting that even students with very low GPAs benefit from attending college.

Professor Joseph Persky

Professor Persky’s book, The Political Economy of Progress: John Stuart Mill and Modern Radicalism, was published this summer by Oxford University Press.  It is a volume in the Press' series, Oxford Studies in the History of Economics.  Professor Persky also testified at the Cook County Board on Oct. 25 in favor of the proposed increase in the County minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2020.  The measure passed the Board.  An increase to $10 per hour will go into effect July 1, 2017.

Professor Javaeria Qureshi

Professor Qureshi’s research interests are in the economics of education, labor and development economics with a focus on understanding the determinants of investments in education, and the role of family and school inputs in human capital production. In current research, she is investigating sibling spillovers in education, how families sort their children into classrooms within schools, and the effect of Medicaid coverage on academic achievement. 

Professor Helen Roberts

Professor Roberts and the UIC Center for Econ Ed were members of the team updating the Illinois State Standards in Social Studies, including Economics and (new for Illinois) Financial Literacy.  These are required to be implemented in schools starting January 2017.  Updating teachers and supporting adjustments to their curriculum through training and student competitions for K-12 started in 2016 and will be continuing through the next several years.  She continues to mentor the UIC Fed Challenge Team.  Teams from top schools in the Midwest compete at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the regional winners at the Federal Reserve Board by making recommendations for monetary policy to Federal Reserve economist judges.

Professor Houston Stokes

Professor Houston Stokes is completing his 50th and final year at UIC this spring, and we wish him a wonderful retirement but also look forward to seeing him at our research seminars in the years to come.  Professor Stokes, along with co-writer Hugh Neuburger, presented their paper, The “Thin Film of Gold” – Interest Rates and Gold Flows in the Classical Gold Standard Era, at the Illinois Economic Association Meetings in October 2016.  The paper employs VAR modeling methods to investigate empirically both the relationship between gold inflows and outflows in the UK, Germany and France and the extent of central bank management of the discount rate in their respective countries by an analysis of the dynamic pattern of discount rates in the three countries.  The results support the hypothesis that UK gold export shocks led to increases in the London discount rate that lowered subsequent UK gold losses and also led to increases in the Berlin and Paris discount rates. The latter finding suggests that the gold standard in the period 1988 – 1908 was characterized by substantial central bank coordination led by the Bank of England that is consistent with efforts to manage the effects of naturally occurring gold flows.

Professor Steven Rivkin

Chicago public schools embarked on a major school reform in 1989 that dramatically changed the structure of school governance. In “Decentralized Governance and the Quality of School Leadership,” Professor Steven Rivkin, former graduate student Jeffrey Schiman, graduate student Jason Ward, and Derek Laing investigate the allocation of principal quality in a system in which local councils at each school have the authority to hire, evaluate and dismiss the school principal. Measuring principal effectiveness on the basis of both student achievement and teacher survey responses to questions about the principal, the results reveal substantial differences in principal quality. The paper then considers how differences in local school councils translate into differences in the quality of school leadership. Using proxies for managerial capacity and incentives the analysis shows that LSCs with higher management capacity and stronger incentives to raise school quality experience larger gains in principal effectiveness following the end of principal employment contracts.

Professor John Tauras

Two recent National Bureau of Economic Research working papers by Frank Chaloupka, John Tauras, and UIC PhD graduates Michael Pesko and Jidong Huang provide new insight on how cigarette prices affect consumer demand for cigarettes, finding that not only do smokers respond to cigarette price increases but their response is greater when they face a higher cost per pack. These studies are the first to examine how the price elasticity of demand for cigarettes changes at different price levels. "The Effect of Cigarette Prices on Cigarette Sales: Exploring the Heterogeneity in Price Elasticities at High and Low Prices" (NBER working paper #22251), led by UIC Associate Professor John Tauras, is the first econometric study to examine the price elasticity of cigarette demand at different price levels. Results show that the absolute value of the price elasticity of demand monotonically increases with price. “The Influence of Geography and Measurement in Estimating Cigarette Price Responsiveness,” (NBER working paper #22296), led by UIC Economics PhD program graduate Michael Pesko, used survey data from the Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey and local-level store scanner data to calculate cigarette price elasticities that account for substantial within-state cigarette prices. Estimates based on more local measures of price are approximately triple the estimates based on state-level prices.




Each spring the Economics Department celebrates the year at the Economics Club banquet. First organized in 2006, the event is made possible by the generosity of generations of faculty and alumni. Undergraduates, graduates, alumni, faculty, staff, and families gather to enjoy an evening together and recognize student accomplishments. We celebrated the 2014-15 banquet on April 13, 2015 and the 2015-2016 banquet on April 18, 2016. 2015 Keynote speaker Professor Darren Lubotsky’s asked “How much would you pay for your dream job?” and 2106 keynote speaker Robert Kaestner presented findings from his research on the effects of the Affordable Care Act.

Following our keynote addresses we presented the undergraduate and graduate student awards to some of our most outstanding students. Many of these students give a great deal to the department as instructors, teaching assistants, tutors or Economics Club officers, and we delight in the chance to honor their accomplishments. Professor Evelyn Lehrer, Director of Undergraduate Studies, and Professors Robert Kaestner and Darren Lubotsky, Directors of Graduate Studies, introduced the undergraduate and graduate award winners, respectively.

Undergraduate Student Award Winners

At our Spring banquets of 2015 and 2016, several students received departmental awards for exceptional academic performance and for outstanding leadership/ service.  Some students also received UIC awards (The Laurette Kirstein Scholarship and the Chancellor’s Service Award).

2015 Awards for Excellent Academic Performance

The winners of the Undergraduate Winifred Geldard Memorial Award were Christopher Cole and Adam Peña. Chris pursued dual degrees in economics and finance with a perfect 4.0 GPA. He was also involved with UIC’s tennis team and earned the Male Student Athlete of the Year Prize for 2013-2014. Chris plans to work in the finance industry after graduation, combining work in his home country (the United Kingdom) and the U.S.  Adam Peña excelled in his   economics major while also pursuing a pre-med program.  He made valuable contributions to the Economics Club.  Adam’s goal is to train as a surgical oncologist.

The winners of the Undergraduate Mitch Krask Award were Evgeniia Cherepenina and Alan Reifer. Evgeniia’s academic performance was outstanding.  She also volunteered as Econ Club tutor and was one of five students selected to represent UIC at the Fed Challenge competition. Evgeniia plans to work in the financial sector for a few years and then go on to graduate studies in economics. Alan Reifer pursued dual degrees in economics and finance and did extremely well in all his coursework.  Alan also played tennis, serving as team captain.  His senior thesis involved an analysis of the Costa Rican economy, his home country. Alan plans to acquire some experience in the world of business, and go on from there to pursue graduate studies in public policy. 

Faizan Qadee was the winner of the Sylvia Saffrin Memorial Award.  Faizan pursued an economics major and a minor in mathematics with an excellent academic performance.  He participated in Fed Challenge and volunteered as tutor both for the African American Academic Network and for the Econ Club.  Faizan plans to pursue graduate studies in economics after some years of work experience.

The Laurette Kirstein Scholarship recognizes international students who have excelled academically.  Eliana Joon, an economics major born in Brazil, was selected as recipient of this prestigious prize.  Aside from her academic achievements, Eliana also stood out for her leadership role in several Econ Club officer positions.

2015 Awards for Excellence in Leadership/ Service

Alan Reifer earned the Chancellor’s Service Award, a UIC prize which recognizes outstanding contributions to service.  Alan participated in the formation of SPARKS – Students Performing Acts of Random Kindness – an organization that provides assistance to the homeless of Chicago. Alan also volunteered as Econ Club tutor and served in various Club officer positions.

Two students received the Ronald Moses Memorial Award - Gabriela Wandling and Brian Waddell.  Gabriela worked in the Club as IT officer and made major improvements to the Club’s website. Gabriela also developed flyers for promoting the economics major on campus.  Brian stood out for his excellent participation in the Club’s weekly meetings and was elected by his peers as Club President – the first time a sophomore has occupied the top leadership position of the Club. Brian took the initiative to draft the Club’s first constitution.

2016 Awards for Excellent Academic Performance

Six students earned the Undergraduate Geldard Award. Paul Curtiswittenberg came to UIC after five years at the U.S. Marine Corps in Japan, where he earned several awards and medals.  At UIC, Paul is excelling in his economics major, and paving the way towards his dream career – work at the Federal Reserve Bank – via participation in Fed Challenge and a summer internship program at the Fed.

Rodrigo Garcia has an exceptionally strong academic record in a demanding curriculum with a double major in economics and statistics. He has participated in the Fed Challenge program, and was the first student to volunteer to serve not only as Econ Club tutor but also as peer mentor. Rodrigo has also taken a leadership role in the Econ Club as Treasurer.  After graduation Rodrigo plans to pursue graduate studies in economics or actuarial science.

Joe George excelled in his economics major and also pursued a pre-med program. He tutored in a variety of subjects including biology and economics, and served as IT officer and webmaster for the Club. Joe plans to pursue an MD/ MPH program after graduation.

Emil Mihaylov pursued a double major in economics and mathematics with a near perfect GPA.  He participated in Fed Challenge and also made valuable contributions to the Econ Club program. Emil plans to work a few years at the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas, and go on from there to a PhD program in Economics.

Matt Pociask came to UIC after five years as Staff Sergeant at the U.S. Army Special Forces.  He is majoring in economics and minoring in philosophy, with an exceptionally strong academic performance. Matt has an interest in economics and law, and is currently working on a senior thesis that combines these two interests. His goal is to apply to some of the top law schools in the country after graduation.

Eliana Yoon has done extremely well in all her courses. She has volunteered as Econ Club tutor and also as peer mentor for freshmen experiencing academic difficulties in their transition from high school to college. She has been working as an intern at Loop Capital, a position she obtained through Chris Mier. Chris, a graduate of our MA program, has been making annual presentations to the Econ Club and each year invites top students to apply for internships at his organization.  Eliana’s goal is to accumulate additional experience in the financial industry, and go on from there to a PhD program in Financial Economics.

The Sylvia Saffrin Memorial Award was awarded to Jing He. Jing pursued a double major in economics and mathematics with a nearly perfect GPA. She volunteered as Econ club tutor and also wrote a New Immigrant Handbook, a document intended to assist immigrants in the process of adapting to their new life in the US.  Jing will attend UIC’s graduate program in Management Information Systems.

2016 Awards for Excellence in Leadership/ Service

Franchesca Cristoforo was the recipient of the Ronald Moses Memorial Award, in recognition of her leadership role in the Econ Club in numerous capacities including the Public Relations officer position. She stood out for writing particularly thoughtful thank you notes each week to the Club speakers and for her contributions to lively discussions at the Club’s weekly meetings. Franchesca is currently the Club President.

Two economics majors received the Chancellor’s Service Award - Nawal Elayyan and Eliana Yoon. Nawal was Club President in the Fall of 2015, and developed promotional materials on the economics major and Econ Club for the Involvement Fair.  In this way Nawal started a new tradition of the Club participating in the Involvement Fairs each term.  Her initiative has been successful in attracting students with other majors to the Club.  Eliana was Club President in the Spring of 2016, and participated also in numerous service activities outside of UIC. She worked in Ghana as volunteer in an orphanage sheltering children with AIDS.  In addition, she participated in the UN Women Empowerment Group – an organization formed to raise awareness on issues of gender inequality. 

Graduate Student Award Winners

We recognize the following graduate students’ accomplishments in 2015 and 2016.

  • Graduate Winifred Geldard Memorial Award - Weixiang (Victor) Pan (2016) and Chia Chang (2016)
  • Gilbert, Bassett, Barry Chiswick, Richard Kosobud & Houston Stokes Award - Minh Nguyen (2015) and Loujaina Abdel Wahed (2016)
  • James Doti Award – Naveen Singhal (2015) and Yucong Jiao (2016)
  • Dean’s Scholar Award – Jeff Schiman
  • Mitch Krask Award - Andrew Morgan (2016)
  • University Fellowship – Jason Ward (2015)
  • Houston Stokes Award - Salman Khan (2016)
  • Chancellor’s Graduate Research Award – Cuiping Long (2015)


Department of Economics
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