Mihaylo Students Attend 2014 American Economic Association Conference

Nobel laureate Edward C. Prescott walked across the stage, giving a lecture about the path to prosperity for the United States. Among the thousands of attendees, four Mihaylo business students got a better understanding of life as an economist.

Mark Mejia ’15, Charmaine Lansangan ’15, Bita Kianian ’13, Aaron Mendez ’14

Economics majors Bita Kianian ’13, Charmaine Lansangan ’15, Mark Mejia ’15 and Aaron Mendez ’14 were selected to attend the 2014 American Economic Association Annual Conference in Philadelphia. The group attended the three-day event as part of the Mihaylo Undergraduate Research Program, in which each student is currently working on a research paper regarding economics.

Conference poster sessions included research projects displayed by economists, and the authors were present to answer questions and discuss their theories. Kianian attended the microeconomics poster session, which she says, “consisted of more than 20 different authors researching various subjects from measuring economic change in Indonesia to infectious disease detection with private information.”

Kianian’s research paper focuses on gender-specific wage differentials, and much of her time at the conference was spent at meetings or talks, which were held in different locations across the city. During these sessions, four economists presented their research papers, which were then critiqued by a colleague and discussed by the audience.

One of the presentations that stood out for Kianian was the lecture, “Rapid Growth or Stagnation for the United States Economy,” given by Prescott, the Nobel laureate.

“It was surreal to have someone I have read about in school standing right in front of me presenting to a packed house,” says Kianian. “The experience was very educational, and I learned many things that I wouldn’t have been able to in the classroom.”

In addition to her research on wage differentials, Kianian is also interested in the economics of the Middle East, and she took advantage of the sessions hosted by the Middle East Economics Association (MEEA).

In order to be selected to attend this conference, students participating in the Mihaylo Undergraduate Research Program submitted a paper explaining why they would benefit from attending the conference, and the entries were reviewed and selected by the Economics Department faculty.

“I had an unforgettable time at the conference,” says Kianian. “And I am eternally grateful for being chosen to attend.”


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