Villanova University
Department of Economics
Summer 2023
Letter from the Chair
Dear friends of Villanova Department of Economics,

It is our pleasure to share with you the highlights from the past academic year. With the pandemic in the rearview mirror, the Economics Department organized three major, Connelly-Center-filling, in-person events, which I would like to provide some more details on.

First, we were particularly pleased by the fact that the 2022 Lucia Lecture was delivered by Daron Acemoglu, PhD, Institute Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Dr. Acemoglu is among the most cited economists alive and has contributed intensively to the discussion about the impact of robots and automation on the workforce. Expanding on that theme, Dr. Acemoglu’s lecture introduced a theory that posits that not all technological advances are created equal; while some benefit society and increase worker productivity, others replace workers without significant productivity gains.

While hearing from economists at the pinnacle of our profession is informative and inspiring to our faculty and students, we also significantly stepped up our offering of events that focus specifically on education about economics as a field, career and major at Villanova.

Consequently, the remaining two in-person events were part of a novel effort to directly demonstrate the versatility of the economics major to all our “intro” students. In the fall, Rapidan Energy Group president Robert “Bob” McNally relayed his path from economics major to energy expert and award-winning author to more than 400 of our Intro to Micro students. In the spring, Matt Luzzetti, PhD, ’06 CLAS, Chief US Economist at Deutsche Bank, presented his career path to a similar number of Intro to Macro students.

On the faculty side, the department research seminar series continued with seven talks on a variety of topics. The leadership organizing the series will experience a changing of the guard over the summer; we are very grateful for the long and dedicated stewardship by Michael Curran, PhD, who has steered the series deftly through some COVID-troubled waters over the last years. Taking over will be a team consisting of Laura Meinzen-Dick, PhD; Maira Reimão, PhD; and Xiaoxiao Li, PhD; and we are excited for the future.

Starting on Aug. 1, Villanova economist Wen Mao, PhD, will serve as the next Helen and William O’Toole Dean of the Villanova School of Business. I know I speak for the entire department when I extend my most sincere congratulations and heartfelt well wishes to Dr. Mao, whose experience includes serving as our department chair from 2007 to 2015.

I hope you enjoy reading about our year. Please contact Mary Kelly, PhD, or me if you have questions, suggestions or would like to engage further with Villanova Economics!

Erasmus Kersting, PhD
Over the weekend of Sept. 17 and 18, department faculty members greeted prospective students and their family members and answered questions about the Economics major in CLAS and VSB.
The department hosted a Careers in Law panel on Thursday, Sept. 22. Participating as panelists were: Nick Dowdle ’17 CLAS, ’22 CWSL; Kristen Mericle ’17 VSB, ’20 CWSL; Kathleen Negri ’12 VSB; Matt Nelson ’18 VSB; and Patrick Venter ’11 VSB. Jonathan Klick, PhD, ’97 VSB, professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania, served as moderator. Earlier in the day, Dr. Klick spoke to students in the Industrial Organization course taught by Mary Kelly, PhD, about the Federal Trade Commission/Department of Justice merger review process.
The department’s research series kicked off in September with two speakers. On Friday, Sept. 23, Hajime Shimao, PhD, from McGill University, discussed his paper on “Welfare Cost of Fairness and Accountability in Insurance Pricing.” A week later on Sept. 30, Richard Clark, PhD, from Cornell University, presented on “Conditionality and the Composition of IO Staff.”
Throughout the month of September and early October, students from all Intro to Micro sections attended a class in the Gmelich Lab for Financial Markets. In addition to becoming familiar with how the Bloomberg terminals work, students researched and analyzed news and data on the oil and gas industry.
Under the guidance of Sarah Burke, PhD, and Paul Suckow, Villanova once again competed in the FED Challenge, an academic competition sponsored by the Federal Reserve System. Eighty-four participating schools submitted presentations on the current state of the economy that included monetary policy recommendations. Our Villanova team, consisting of Brandon Catanzaro ’23 CLAS, Mark Niland ’23 CLAS, Dorian Scourtos ’24 CLAS, Henry Gilroy ’24 CLAS, and David Moore ’23 VSB, was selected as a regional winner and advanced to the semi-final round, with Princeton University winning first place. Teams were scored on content and analysis, responses to questions, teamwork and presentation skills.

"We want to encourage people who want to make a difference, at every stage of their careers, to consider public service," said Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome H. Powell. "These students view the issues we face as a country from their own perspectives, and those fresh views and understanding are valuable."
After a two year pause because of COVID-19, the department’s annual Joseph L. Lucia Lecture was back. Held on Oct. 19 in the Connelly Center Cinema, the keynote address was given by Daron Acemoglu, PhD, Institute Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Acemoglu’s talk was “In the Name of Progress: Our Thousand-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity.” He has published more than 150 articles in leading Economics journals. In addition, Dr. Acemoglu has authored several books, including the classic, Why Nations Fail: Origins of Power, Poverty and Prosperity, which was recognized as the Best Political Book of the Year Award in 2013 and was awarded The George S. Eccles Prize for Excellence in Economic Writing by Columbia Business School. Dr. Acemoglu is a past recipient of the John Bates Clark Medal awarded by the American Economic Association for distinguished contributions to economic thought and knowledge.
The department’s research seminar series continued in October with presentations by John Rogers, PhD, formerly a macroeconomist from the Federal Reserve Board and current professor at Fudan University, on “Macroeconomic Transmission of (Un-) Predictable Uncertainty Shocks,” and by Bryan Stuart, PhD, of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia on “The Effects of Racial Segregation on Intergenerational Mobility: Evidence from Historical Railroad Placement.”
On Oct. 27, Erasmus Kersting, PhD, gave a lecture in Wilmington, Delaware for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Delaware. The topic was “Taking the Economy’s Temperature: Where Are We and Where Are We Headed?”
On Nov. 9, the department hosted Robert “Bob” McNally, founder and president of Rapidan Energy and author of the award-winning book Crude Volatility, to virtually speak to over 400 students in the introductory economics courses. McNally spoke about the historical boom-bust cycles in oil markets, the role of OPEC+, and geopolitical and economic factors that influence global oil markets.
On Nov. 17, Elizabeth “Libby” Pica ’16 CLAS, an associate attorney at Gibson Dunn in New York City, returned to campus to talk to students in the Industrial Organization course about antitrust and sports.
Chris Jeffords, PhD, was recognized by Affordable Learning PA as the Affordable Learning Champion of 2022. “The basic thrust is to attempt to conserve financial and environmental resources while providing high-quality instruction peppered with reflections on the current course materials compared to what we could be using,” said Dr. Jeffords. “This part of the process makes the use of the open access materials more immersive and, if I’m being honest, there are few noticeable content differences across introductory economics textbooks aside from chapter ordering, the author’s ‘voice,’ and the choice of examples. So, why not use a regularly updated and open access textbook as the baseline?”
The department’s research seminar series began 2023 with a talk by Lukas Wellner from the University of Göttingen on "Does Foreign Aid Reduce Migration? Micro-Evidence from World Bank Projects."
In late February, recent alum Austin Glass ’22 VSB presented his senior thesis, “Value and Cents: Exploring the Relationship Between Income Inequality and Social Trust Globally since 1980” at the Eastern Economic Association (EEA) annual meetings in New York. Laura Meinzen-Dick, PhD, and Maira Reimão, PhD, also presented their research at the conference.
On March 15, the department held a Welcome to the Major event for newly declared students in CLAS. Seniors, Andrew Johnson ’23 CLAS, Justin Lo ’23 CLAS, Vincent Iannello ’23 CLAS, and Cat McCullough ’23 CLAS, spoke to the students about their experiences with majoring in economics at Villanova and their post-graduation plans.
The department’s research seminar series continued with Carola Binder, PhD, associate professor at Haverford College, speaking on “Central Bank Communication and Hose Price Expectations.”

On March 22, Helene Purcell, PhD, ’11 VSB spoke to students about her career path since graduating from Villanova, including her current role as a post-doctorate researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. In Dr. Purcell’s research, she is exploring the impact of natural disasters on risk preferences in Indonesia as well as the efficacy of a technology intervention for pastoralists in Tanzania and Ethiopia.
On March 30, Mary Kelly, PhD; Sarah Burke, PhD; and Theresa Rissell accompanied 42 students to Washington, D.C., to attend the second day of NABE’s Economic Policy Conference on “Orienting Policy Toward a Polarized World.” The highlights of the day included hearing presentations by Sheila Bair, former chair, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; Susan Collins, president and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston; and Janet Yellen, United States Secretary of the Treasury.
In April, two senior Economics majors presented their research at an undergraduate economics conference hosted by Stony Brook University. Anthony Grasso ’23 VSB presented on “Impartiality in Humanitarian Assistance: An Investigation of Refugee Outflows Informing Levels of Food Aid Inflows” and Yen Nguyen ’23 CLAS discussed her paper on “Humanitarian Assistance and the Child Recruitment Crisis in Yemen,” These were both capstone papers for “Economics of Humanitarian Assistance” taught by Maira Reimão, PhD, in the spring semester.

Anthony reflected on his experience: “I learned about the process of presenting research in a formal academic setting and got a glimpse of what it would be like to attend a graduate program in economics," he said. "The honest and constructive feedback that I received at the conference helped me to strengthen both my argument and my ability to defend it, and it left me with strategies and techniques that I believe will be extremely applicable in my career and future education.”
On Tuesday, April 11, the department hosted an alumni panel on Business Careers in the Health Care Industry. Dik Barsamian, MBA, ’87 VSB was the moderator. The panelists included Brendan Cummings ’13 CLAS, Taylor Grosjean ’16 VSB, Anna Heleniak ’11 CLAS, Tom Keane ’19 VSB, and Joe Kelly ’12 VSB.
On Thursday, April 13, Matt Luzzetti, PhD, ’06 VSB, Chief US Economist at Deutsche Bank, spoke to students in the Intro to Macroeconomics course about the macroeconomic outlook and key issues facing the US financial system.
On April 14, the department welcomed Doug Webber, PhD, from the Federal Reserve Board to present his paper "When Do Students and Taxpayers See a Return? Optimal Accountability Thresholds in Higher Education" as part of the Research Seminar Series.
On April 16, Chris Jeffords, PhD, was one of six speakers in the TEDxVillanovaU Conference, “Paradigm Shift for Sustainability.” He discussed his research in environmental economics, sustainability and human rights, and teaching economics with a human rights foundation. A day later, Dr. Jeffords was invited as a panelist for the Villanova ChatGPT Faculty Discussion. He discussed how he uses ChatGPT in his environmental economics course and his plans for using it in his other classes.
In mid-April, fifteen members of the Villanova Chapter of the Philly Justice Project attended the Innocence Network Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. The experience was partially funded by supporters across campus, including the Economics Department. Students got the opportunity to hear from medical and legal experts, professors and scholars, and those who have faced the unfathomable experience of being wrongfully convicted.
At an award luncheon on April 21, the department recognized this year’s inductees into Omicron Delta Epsilon (ODE), the international Economics Honor Society. The event was organized by Julie Becher, PhD, the faculty advisor for Villanova’s chapter of ODE. At the luncheon, students received their certificates and honor cords to wear at graduation. Those inducted into ODE include:
Fikayo Ajeigbe
Sela Andrews
Vivian Bear
Andrew Blloshmi
Devin Boatsman
Keith Carra
Richard Centofanti
Michael Cuocolo
Aidan Daniels
Morgan Devine
Ryan Doherty
Anthony Flynn
Megan Gaughan
Henry Gilroy
Anthony Grasso
Reagan Hansen
Vincent Iannello
Andrew Johnson
Katie Jungels
Will Kendall
Will Klammer
Colin Lilly
Ryan Lonergan
Jack Matthews
Katherine Mayer
Anna Mayock
Gabi Morabito
Molly Murphy
Dillon Ryan
Gigi Schimpf
Casey Shager
Madison Stell
Allie Stockburger
Anne Marie Toolan
Joy Vaeth
Victoria Walters
On April 27, Maira Reimão, PhD, Economics professor and visiting professor in the Center for Peace and Justice, spoke on “Access to Daycare, Employment, and Living Conditions in Rio de Janeiro.”
On April 28, the three finalists in the annual Adam Smith Undergraduate Research Competition presented their papers to faculty, staff and friends. Based on faculty votes, Colin Lilly ’23 CLAS won first place for his work on “Examining the Distributional Effects of School Quality on Student Outcomes.” Second prize went to Vivian Bear ’23 VSB who examined “Aid Effectiveness in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).” Honorable Mention was awarded to Victoria Spugnardi ’23 CLAS who studied “Food Aid in Ecuador: The Efficacy of Aid Modalities and Distance to Markets.” Joining the Economics faculty in judging this year were alums and past Adam Smith prize winners Ryan Zalla, PhD, '17 CLAS, Investment Strategist at Vanguard; Matthew Fagerstrom ’19 CLAS, ’20 MA, incoming PhD student in Economics at University of Pennsylvania; and Aidan Schwob ’22 CLAS, Sales and Training Foreign Exchange Analyst at PNC Capital Markets. The prize money of $2,000 for first place, $1,000 for second place, and $500 for honorable mention is funded by a gift from John Haines ’79 CLAS.
At VSB’s Academic Excellence Award ceremony, Vivian Bear ’23 VSB was awarded the Bartley Medallion for Excellence in the Study of Economics. At the CLAS award ceremony, William McNey ’23 CLAS received the John Maynard Keynes Medallion for Excellence in the Study of Economics.
Science on Tap – Phoenixville is a monthly event that features an expert speaker who leads a conversation in their area of expertise. Founders of Science of Tap, Chris Jeffords, PhD, and Jen Santoro, PhD, secured funding through the 2022-2023 First Year Match Program and hired student worker Margaux Barrett '26 CLAS to conduct a community survey of the Science on Tap audience. As part of this project, Margaux presented the preliminary findings at the poster sessions of VSB Research Day on May 2. The title of the presentation was “Science on Tap: The Efficacy of Science Communication.”
In response to chemical spills into Philadelphia waterways, professors in the Department of Geography and the Environment Steven Goldsmith, PhD, and Jen Santoro, PhD; along with Chris Jeffords, PhD, published an opinion piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer on May 1, “Three Steps to Protect Philadelphia’s Drinking Water.”

On May 2, Dr. Jeffords participated as a speaker at the Villanova Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference. The theme was "Sustainability and the Church: Balancing Our Ethical Responsibility to the Planet with the Financial Realities of Going Green." He discussed fiscally responsible options for "greening the church."

Shortly after on May 4, Dr. Jeffords published an opinion piece in The Hill, “Three words can make Biden’s environmental orders more than shiny distractions.” This was in response to the Biden Administration’s executive order on environmental justice.
On May 4, Mary Kelly, PhD, delivered the Last Lecture to the senior class. Seniors across the four colleges voted for their favorite faculty member to deliver the talk.
At year-end faculty award ceremonies, Sutirtha Bagchi, PhD, was awarded the McDonough Family Faulty Award for excellence in academic research, and Chris Jeffords, PhD, was the inaugural recipient of VSB’s Augustinian Values and Excellence in Mission Rising Star.

Several faculty members received summer grants for teaching and/or research. At the University level, Xiaoxiao Li, PhD, and Maira Reimão, PhD, were awarded a research grant. VSB Teaching Innovation and Development Grant winners were awarded to Sarah Reed, PhD; Theresa Rissell; and Peter Zaleski, PhD. Recipients of VSB Research grants were Sutirtha Bagchi, PhD; Scott Dressler, PhD; Chris Jeffords, PhD; Erasmus Kersting, PhD; Christopher Kilby, PhD; Victor Li, PhD; Dr. Xiaoxiao Li; Laura Meinzen-Dick, PhD; Dr. Reimão; Zeynep Yom, PhD; and Dr. Zaleski.
In mid-May, Michelle Casario, PhD, led her third undergraduate study abroad program to Sydney, Australia, where students completed a special section of Global Political Economy with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region. This intensive short-term study abroad program provided students the opportunity to gain an understanding of the political, social and historical origins while experiencing cultural immersion living and studying in an international and multicultural city. Assisted by Mary Kelly, PhD, students attended lectures, met with business leaders and participated in company site visits. Business meetings included: KPMG, EY, Salesforce, Snap, Lendlease, Costco, DHL, Forecast Global, WPP AUNZ and Pfizer. A highlight of the program was the corporate site visits with Villanova alumni in leadership positions at KPMG and Lendlease.
During the spring semester, we solicited help from students and alumni to help us create a “Why Economics” video to showcase the benefits of studying economics. We are so grateful for their help!
Congratulations to the class of 2023! On May 19, Villanova commencement ceremonies took place in the stadium. With excitement in the air, Economics faculty gathered to celebrate the end of another academic year and congratulate graduates and their family members at the reception in Bartley Hall. This year, 113 students graduated with a degree in Economics, 96 from CLAS and 17 from VSB.
Faculty and Staff News
Major Milestones
On Oct. 25, 2022, Cathy Costello celebrated the birth of her granddaughter, Aspen Costello-Scott.
On Dec. 18, 2022, Teri Rissell welcomed her first grandchild, Benedict Craig, into the world.
On March 15, Victor Li, PhD, and his wife welcomed their son, Timothy, into the world who was 6lbs, 3oz.
On a beautiful day in early June, Sarah Reed, PhD, married her college sweetheart, Jake Jacavage.
Faculty Publications
Aysun, U., Guldi, M., Honig, A., and Yom, Z. (2023). R&D, Market Power and the Cyclicality of Employment. Journal of Money, Credit and Banking.

Bagchi, S. (2022). Withholding Matters: The Impact of Act 32 on Compliance with the Earned Income Tax. Economics Letters, 219.

Hogan, K., Mills, J., and Olson, G., Zaleski, P. (2023). An Analysis of Cyber Breaches and Effects on Shareholder Wealth. International Journal of the Economics of Business. 

Kelly, M. and Swann, C. (2023). Disruption in the Meat Industry: New Technologies in Nonmeat Substitutes. Business Economics.

Kejriwal, M., Li, X., Nguyen, L., and Totty, E. (2023). The Efficacy of Ability Proxies for Estimating the Returns to Schooling: A Factor Model-Based Evaluation. Journal of Applied Econometrics. 

Li, X., Mao, W., Zaleski, P. A., and Kenny, C.* (2023). The Ends Against the Middle: The Case of Municipal Golf. Public Finance Review, 51(3), 339–367.

*Villanova graduate student.
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