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Dear NU Economics friends and colleagues,

I am delighted to have joined the Department as professor and chair this past summer.  My predecessor, Bill Dickens, did a superb job as chair, and will be a very tough act to follow.  In addition to thanking Bill, I want to give a special shout-out to Cheryl FonvilleJacquaetta Hester, and Kathy Downey for their generous and patient help to me in transitioning to my new role.  Kudos also go to Kathy for putting together this newsletter.  As you’ll see as you read this newsletter, the Department is on a very good trajectory, with exciting recent additions to our faculty and positive developments in our undergraduate and graduate programs.

With over 700 current undergraduate students either majoring in economics or in a combined major including economics, we teach a large number of students but strive to provide them with individual attention and high-quality instruction.  A notable recent improvement is that both our B.A. and B.S. degrees in economics are now STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) certified. Our B.S. combined major programs are also STEM certified, as are our M.S. and Ph.D. programs in applied economics.  The STEM certification reflects our department’s straddling of the realms of mathematical modeling, statistical estimation and inference, and policy analysis.  Our students study a curriculum encompassing a wide range of foundational skills that prepare them well for navigating the ever-changing and hard-to-predict labor market conditions that they will encounter throughout their careers.  Overall, our department thinks that economics is an ideal basis for Northeastern’s model of an experiential liberal arts education.

This newsletter is full of other department news, including information about our six new faculty members, the inauguration of the DIVERSEcon initiative, and news and accomplishments of our faculty, students and alumni.  For those alums who I have not yet met, I hope to meet you if you’re on-campus in the future and please keep in touch with the Department – for how to do so, please see the “Stay in touch!” section at the end of this newsletter.

Bob Triest

Chair, Department of Economics

Farewell from Professor Bill Dickens

I believe that we have accomplished a lot together over the last five years. A new generation of colleagues have replaced those who have retired. We have put in place numerous innovations in our programs which have grown and improved steadily. We have expanded our undergraduate offerings by hiring a remarkably talented group of Teaching Professors. Most of all, we have done this while maintaining an atmosphere that makes coming to work a joy.

I have been very lucky as Chair to work with such a great group of people. I have been consistently impressed with everyone’s willingness to go above and beyond to help the department progress. Nothing made my job easier than everyone’s willingness to contribute time, energy and ideas to deal with the problems and opportunities that we faced.

It is difficult to single out individuals when everyone has contributed so much, but we all know how important Cheryl Fonville is to the department. My time as chair would not have been anywhere near as pleasant without her and I expect that there would be much less for the department to celebrate now without her help.

My work has also been made much easier by our office staff. Northeastern’s pace of innovation can be hard to keep up with but Kathy Downey has done an excellent job of moving the department onto the web and into social media single handedly. Jacquaetta Hester has  made a substantial impact in her new roles. I strongly suspect that our amazing success in recruiting Ph.D. students this last year is owed to her efforts.

So thanks to all of you. The last five years have been an enormously rewarding time for me and I have to thank each and every one of you for your support. I am excited to be returning to research and then teaching in the Spring.

DIVERSEcon is the brainchild of Associate Professor Alicia Sasser Modestino in response to the growing awareness of the lack of diversity within the economics profession and from conversations with Northeastern University economic students, specifically Rachel Sederberg, Ph.D. Candidate in Economics and Erica Smith, B.S. Candidate in Economics.

Funded by the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, DIVERSEcon will host an external speaker each semester who will discuss their research as well as their career experiences. The goal is  to provide  strong  role  models  as well as  practical  knowledge  of  the  challenges  within  the  profession  and  strategies  that  others  have  found  effective  in  overcoming  career  hurdles.  This will be  followed  by  a  town  hall  style  question  and  answer  session  focused  on  discussing  issues  of diversity within  the  economics  profession  to  raise  awareness  and  formulate new  approaches that  can  be  implemented  on  campus.  Both  seminars  will  be  followed  by  an  informal  gathering  including  light  refreshments  during  which  students  and  faculty  can  network  and  socialize,  further  building  a  sense  of  community  and  mentorship.

The inaugural lecture will take place on Wednesday, December 5, 2018 in Renaissance Park 909 and feature Maria Luengo Prado as the speaker.  María José Luengo-Prado is a senior economist and policy advisor in the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Research Department and was a tenured associate professor in this department.

Jill Dupree Assistant Teaching Professor of Economics Jill Dupree’s research interests are in economic development and global economic history. Her teaching specializations include economic development and global economic history, macroeconomics, and international finance.
Donghee Jo Assistant Professor of Economics Donghee Jo is an affiliated faculty member of the Network Science Institute. He specializes in political economy and media economics. The current primary focus of his research is the causes, consequences, and potential remedies of political polarization.
Silvia Prina Associate Professor Silvia Prina is a development economist interested in understanding the behavior of poor households for the purpose of uncovering potential strategies to improve their lives. She is currently working on several field experiments in Mexico and Latin America, Nepal, Tanzania, Uganda, and the U.S.
Aysen Tanyeri-Abur Associate Teaching Professor Aysen Tanyeri-Abur’s expertise and research interests lie in development economics, with a focus on economic analysis of food and development policy, global/regional/local food systems, and agricultural investment. Her teaching specializations include agricultural and applied economics, international development, food policy, and resource development.
Robert Triest Chair and Professor of Economics Robert Triest is an applied economist whose research focuses on labor economics and public policy. His recent work focuses on the intersection of economic circumstances and educational outcomes, as well as the impact of long-term unemployment on household finances.
Madhavi Venkatesan Assistant Teaching Professor of Economics Madhavi Venkatesan’s present academic interests include the integration of sustainability into the economics curriculum. Her teaching specializations include economics, finance and sustainability, labor and environmental economics, and economic history.

Assistant Professor Catalina Herrera Almanza’s paper “Teen Fertility and Female Employment Outcomes: Evidence from Madagascar co-authored with  David E. Sahn (Cornell University) and Kira Villa (University of New Mexico) has been accepted for publication at the Journal of African Economies.

Professor James Dana’s paper “Bundling and quality assurance” joint with Professor Kathryn Spier at Harvard University has been published in the Spring 2018 issue of the RAND Journal of Economics.

In July, Assistant Teaching Professor Jill Dupree was a featured guest on WBZ radio’s Bradley Jay’s program to discuss steel tariffs.

Assistant Professor Bilge Erten‘s paper, “For Better or for Worse? Education and the Prevalence of Domestic Violence in Turkey,” with Pinar Keskin, has been published in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics (2018, 10 (1): 64-105).

In addition, her paper “Breaking the Cycle? Education and the Intergenerational Transmission of Violence,” (with Pinar Keskin) has been accepted at the Review of Economics and Statistics.

In early October, the News at Northeastern featured Assistant Professor Donghee Jo and his research on partisan politics in the US.

Read the article here.

Donghee Jo’s research has also been cited in a September 7 Washington Post article by Carolyn Johnston, “Bursting people’s political bubbles could make them even more partisan”.  Link to article.

The Antitrust Revolution 7th edition by Professor  John Kwoka and New York University’s Larry White has been released. This book examines the critical role of economic analysis in recent antitrust case decisions and policy.

The American Antitrust Institute (AAI) has released a new paper by Professor Kwoka,  Reviving Merger Control: A Comprehensive Plan for Reforming Policy and Practice.  This is a comprehensive plan consisting of ten specific, empirically supported proposals for reforming and revitalizing merger enforcement.. The White Paper can be found on the AAI website here.  On November 14, Professor Kwoka discussed this  white paper  at an event sponsored by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. This event– “Building a New Consensus on Antitrust Reform”–was keynoted by Sen. Amy Klobuchar and was held in the Senate Office Building in Washington, DC.

Two of John Kwoka’s papers were recently published:

  • “The Structural Presumption and the Safe Harbor in Merger Review: False Positives or Unwarranted Concerns” has been published in the recent issue (Volume 81, No. 3) of the Antitrust Law Journal.
  • Nonprice Effects of Mergers: Issues and Evidence,” written with PhD candidate Shawn Kilpatrick has been published in the June 2018 issue of  The Antitrust Bulletin.

During the week of October 15, Prof. John Kwoka was invited to Lima Peru, as a guest of the School of Government and Public Policies at la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. The Peruvian Congress is currently considering legislation that would strengthen its competition policy, and Prof. Kwoka was asked to discuss his research and understanding of the value of adding merger control to the mission of the competition agency.On Tuesday the 16th, Professor Kwoka was the keynote speaker at a conference on “Free Competition, Concentration, and Regulation in Peru and the United States” at the University where he discussed trends in concentration and its effects. On Wednesday October 18, Professor Kwoka spoke and answered questions in an open meeting with Congressman Jorge del Castillo, one of the sponsors of the new legislation about the importance of merger control in Peru. One of his several media interviews was with Peru’s leading newspaper, La Republica.  Link to article.

Patrick Legros, Distinguished Professor of Economics, was an invited speaker at the  Think7 forum, a summit of academic institutions and think tanks from the G7 countries in Quebec City. The experts worked on the challenges of complexity and inclusion in global governance and presented the synthesis of their reflections at the end of their meeting.

Professor Legros presented on matching international migration and labor market needs.

Associate Professor Alicia Sasser Modestino received a $30,000 grant from the Office of Workforce Development to study labor market mismatch and presented two papers at the NBER Summer Institute.  In August, two of her papers were published in the Harvard Business Review.

  • “Why More Cities Should Offer Summer Jobs for Teens”
  • “Research: When the Economy Is Good, Employers Demand Fewer Credentials

Associate Professor Alicia Modestino and  Phd Candidate Richard J. Paulsen‘s paper “Reducing inequality summer by summer: Lessons from an evaluation of the Boston Summer Youth Employment Program” has been published in the Evaluation and Progam Planning journal.

Richard Paulsen‘s paper  “Contract Options and Performance: The Case of Major League Baseball” was recently accepted for publication at the Atlantic Economic Journal.

NU Economics and Political Science student, Jessica Ofurie, vows to fight homelessness in the U.S. She says, “I just knew public service was in my character.”


Link to News at Northeastern article.


Assistant Professor Imke Reimer’s paper “Copyright and Generic Entry in Book Publishing” was accepted for publication at the American Economic Journal – Microeconomics.

Keyon Rostamnezhad (Class of 2021 BS Economics/International Affairs) has been selected to be a 2018 Millennium Fellow.

The fellowship is a semester-long leadership development program that is the result of a partnership between the Millennium Campus Network and the United Nations Academic Impact initiative.

Link to News at Northeastern article.


Assistant Professor Ivan Petkov and Associate Professor Alicia Sasser Modestino were selected to participate in the Global Resilience Institute of Northeastern as research faculty. Here is a link to the website:

Associate Professor Silvia Prina’s research on training in new credit technologies for the rural sector has been awarded a grant  (10,000 euros) from BBVA. The paper, “Milking it for all its worth: Digital Credit and Payments in the Dairy Sector”,  was co-written with Alfredo Burlando (University of Oregon) and Jessica Goldberg (University of Maryland). This research was one of five state of the art research projects selected by the BBVA Center for Financial Education and Capability  in its first Call for Expressions of Interest (EOI).

In addition, Silvia Prina’s paper “Incentives and unintended consequences: spillover effects in food choice,” with Manuela Angelucci, Heather Royer, and Anya Samek was accepted for publication at theAmerican Economic Journal – Policy.

Read about Jessica Sun (Class of 2022 BS Economics/Business Admin) from overcoming learning challenges to co-founding an education startup in 

Link to article.



Northeastern University Assistant Teaching Professor Madhavi Venkatesan has recently been named as the book review editor of The Journal of International Women’s Studies.  Link to journal

Madhavi Venkatesan received an Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) grant to support a curriculum development of a course on religion and economics. IFYC mission is to promote interfaith corporation in America. Her paper on teaching sustainability in economics: “Our common future: The role of economics in promoting sustainability,” will be published in a special issue of New Directions in Teaching and Learning. On October 15, she presented at the Faculty Works in Progress Seminar Series sponsored by the CSSH on this very topic.

In August, Madhavi Venkatesan participated in an Ecological Economics (EE) retreat supported by the Gund Institute at the University of Vermont and will lead a chapter on stakeholder engagement for a book to be published (Edward Elgar) on the future research focus of EE.  She will be teaching EE in the School of Public Policy in the spring 2019 semester. She is presently a Board Member of the International Society for Ecological Economics.

Alex Faust CSSH 2012 is the television play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Kings.  Faust graduated from Northeastern University in 2012 with a degree in political science and economics.

He was the voice of Northeastern University men’s basketball, and was one of the youngest play-by-play broadcasters to call an NCAA tournament game at age 26. He was also the radio broadcaster for the single-A Staten Island Yankees for two years.

Recently, Faust’s name was trending in the news when Alex Trebek floated his name as a possible replacement to host Jeopardy in the future!  Link to the News@Northeastern article.



Betzamel Lopez BS 2016 is starting her first year at Harvard Medical School this fall. Read about Betzamel’s  pathway from economics to medicine here.

“As a doctor, I cannot simply say “you should get more exercise”—maybe my patient cannot afford to pay for a gym membership or lives in a neighborhood where it is unsafe to jog outside. Understanding the economic situation of each one of my patients can help me prepare treatment plans that better suit their lifestyles, thus ensuring successful outcomes.” – Betzamel Lopez



Faizan Qaiyum, BS 2016 currently works at Harvard Business Publishing as a Technical Support Associate.  Faizan majored in economics, and minored in business administration and psychology.

“The Northeastern University education is truly liberating! I was continuously surrounded with smart and ambitious friends – which enabled me to unlock my true potential. My passion to learn and transcend boundaries complemented well with the Northeastern values.”


Laura Crispin, BA 2004, Associate Professor at the Department of Economics at St. Joseph’s University recent paper,”Estimating the Effect of Child Caregiving on CollegeStudents’ Time Allocation.”  co-authored with Dimitrios Nikolaou,  has been accepted for publication at the Monthly Labor Review.

Laura  Mueller-Soppart  (2013 Economics and Political Science) is the founder and CEO of Built Interest. Built Interest is a growing team of developers, designers, urban strategists, and project managers dedicated to building places from the inside out. The mission is to make exciting ideas come to life from ideation to execution, from concept to brand to build.

Dr. Kamlesh Misra who earned a PhD in Economics from Northeastern University was named Vice-Chancellor at Ansal University Gurgaon in India. A turnaround specialist, he has extensive experience in institution building.

The company founded by Ken Wengrod BS 1973 was recognized for making a significant contribution to the expansion of American exports. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross  presented  the President’s “E” Award for Export Services to Ken Wengrod  at a ceremony in Washington, DC, earlier this summer. Read the News @Northeastern article here

Nehan Naim graduated with her PhD in Economics in the Spring of 2018. She has been named an assistant professor at SUNY’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

Odeta Kushi graduated with her MA in Economics in 2015 and is now a senior economist at First American Corp.

As senior economist for First American Financial Corporation, Odeta Kushi prepares analysis and commentary, and forecasts trends in the real estate and mortgage markets. Kushi’s research focuses on real estate and urban economics, and applied econometrics. Her research has been published in leading business and industry trade publications, such as Business InsiderHousingWire and Inman News.

Odeta was recently a guest speaker at the 14th annual Home-Free USA conference and the 2018 NAHREP (National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals).  She recently published an article in Business Insider on the housing market in Detroit.

Pinshuo Wang (PhD 2018 ) is an assistant professor in  Muma College of Business’s Finance Department at the University of South Florida.

In May, Pinshuo’s research paper “The Cost of Financing Education: Can Student Debt Hinder Entrepreneurship?” co-authored with Professor Karthik Krishnan in the Finance department of Northeastern’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business, was published in  Management Science.

Rand Ghayad PhD 2014  is now an Economist and  a Public Policy Advisor at the International Monetary Fund.

Congratulations to Yelena Kuznetsov Greenberg BS/MA 2010 on the birth of her beautiful baby Misha.  In 2017, Yelena graduated from Boston University Law School and is currently an associate at CARB-X.