News & Faculty Happenings

May 9, 2018 – We want to recognize all the students who successfully defended their dissertations these past couple of weeks, officially overcoming the last hurdle on their way to becoming doctors of economics!

Karo Solat – Generalized Principal Component Analysis
Bowen Shi – Three Essays on Networks
Jae-Yoon Kim – Essays on DSGE Models and Bayesian Estimation
Yu “Joey” Zhou – Skill Returns and Gender Wage Gap

Congratulations to you all, and best of luck in your future endeavors!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018 – Congratulations to Olivia Brown, Ben Chenault and Jianan Ding for being offered membership into Virginia Tech’s Mu Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most widely known academic honor society.  Phi Beta Kappa was founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary. Virginia Tech was granted a charter in 1977.


April 16, 2018 – The Department of Economics Honors and Remembers the 32 Hokies lost on April 16, 2007
April 9, 2018 – Dean Sally Morton has announced that Dr. Kwok Ping ‘Byron’ Tsang has been selected as the winner of the 2018 College of Science Outreach Award. The award, made possible through funding from Virginia Tech’s Outreach and International Affairs, recognizes the efforts of faculty who have made outstanding contributions in “putting knowledge to work” for the benefits of constituencies outside the university.

March 29th, 2018 – Econ Doctoral student wins best paper award! Jae-Yoon Kim, of the Virginia Tech Department of Economics, has been awarded the James B. Ramsey prize for best paper in econometrics presented by a graduate student. On March 19th-20, 2018, the Keio University in Tokyo hosted the 26th Annual Symposium of the Society for Nonlinear Dynamics and Econometrics. Of the 140 papers presented by academic economists and graduate students, Kim’s paper, “DSGE-VAR(λ) for a Model Evaluation Revisited,” was selected by the organizing society for the Ramsey award, which included a $500 prize. The award was established by the Economics Department of the Norwegian Business School.  Jae-Yoon is doctoral advisor is Dr Aris Spanos, Wilson Schmidt Professor of Economics at Virginia Tech. For more about Jae-Yoon’s research, click here

March 21, 2018 – Thank you to everyone who helped the Department of Economics rise to the challenge for #VTGivingDay!! We had a total of 118 gifts for $6,373.30, finishing in 2nd and 4th place (out of 11) in the College of Science gifts and amount raised.  Our donations also helped the COS finish in 3rd place on the Vice President’s Participation Leadership Challenge! Click here for all COS Giving Day information.

March 20, 2018 – A Giving Day Story by ECON Club: College of Science and College of Business students give most to charity!
On October 26th and 27th, 2017, members of the Economics Club at Virginia Tech carried out a study on giving. The experiment had the participants play a classic Economics game, called the Dictator Game, against either (i) a VT student, or (ii) Feeding America Southwest Virginia, a local food bank that provides meals to needy families in the Virginia Tech region. In this game a player is given a certain sum of money to divide between themself and another person called the recipient in any manner they like. Click here to read more…

March 15, 2018 – To celebrate Women in Science Month 2018, the Department of Economics highlights our fabulous female faculty: Sheryl Ball, Suqin Ge, Xu Lin, Shaowen Luo, and Melinda Miller.

March 15, 2018 – Econ Faculty Receive Grant that Provides Scholarships for Study Abroad Program!!!

Drs. Ball and Smith received Partners of The Americas grant to fund Econ Study abroad Program in Peru! This is a unique bi-directional study abroad program where students from VT and Universidad di Piura will learn about lab (at VT) and field experiments (at UDEP) in policy-making. The $25,000 grant from the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund will be used to provide scholarships to students who enroll in the study abroad program.
Students will spend the first week doing online preparation. Week 2 for all students will be in Blacksburg and weeks 3&4 in Lima and Piura. With scholarships the total cost will be $1,700 plus tuition. Spots are limited!
This study abroad program provides policy-related experiential learning is also been supported by a CIDER grant and the Global Education office at Virginia Tech.
The other investigators on the grant are Rachel Fitzgerald from the Global Ed office and Dr. Marcos Agurto Director, Lima School of Economics Peru.

March 14, 2018 – A tighter community matters: Congratulations to Sudipta Sarangi whose paper titled Lineage-based heterogeneity and cooperative behavior in rural China” (co-authored Quqiong He and Ying Pan) has been published by the Journal of Comparative Economics. This paper shows that villages with a larger concentration of the same clan name or a more tightly knit community will exhibit higher reciprocal behavior within the clan and in the provision of public goods that are shared by members of different clans living in the same village. Importantly, the paper also shows that over time villages with a more tightly knit community do better in an economic sense. This paper has an important message, especially for a county like America which has always been considered a melting pot. It suggests that creating a sense of community is important matter for cooperative behavior and provision of public goods.

March 1, 2018 – The Department of Economics at Virginia Tech and the University of Piura in Peru have joined forces to create a new study abroad program, VT-UDEP Economics Lab:  Experiment-Driven Policy Making in Peru where 10 VT students will be paired with 10 UDEP students.  During Summer II 2018, they will spend a week in Blacksburg doing lab experiments and then 10 day in Peru studying field experiments.

January 10, 2018 – As Virginia Tech moves forward with the Destination Areas and Strategic Growth Areas, our faculty are heavily involved in research relating to different aspects of these focus areas. Four different projects involving economics faculty received grants to conduct their research.  Dr. Sheryl Ball is part of collaborative grant titled Toward Mental Health through Decision Neuroscience funded by the Adaptive Brain and Behaviors DA, as well as Dr. Alec Smith. Dr.’s Adam Dominiak, Gerelt Tserenjigmid, and Matt Kovach were awarded a grant to fund an international conference on decision-making titled Advancements in Behavioral Decision by the Data and Decisions DA to be hosted at Virginia Tech in April 2018. Dr. Ball is also part of a research team led by Dr. Brooks King-Casas to explore social influence on decision-making that received funding from this DA. Finally in collaboration with researchers from the Department of Philosophy, Dr.’s Sudipta Sarangi and Adam Dominiak received funding from the Policy Strategic Growth Area for their research on Ethical Decision-Making Under Ambiguity.

January 9, 2018 – Dr. Djavad Salehi-Isfahani was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered today, bringing his expertise on the Middle East to a discussion about recent developments. To listen to the interview, please find it here.



December 20, 2017 – As the year draws to a close, we’d like to wish an enthusiastic congratulations to Sanaz Fesharaki and Tsung-Han “Humphrey” Yang, who both successfully defended their dissertations today! They wrote Three Essays on Development Economics and Essays on Applied Game Theory and Public Economics, respectively. Wishing the best of luck to our latest alumni in the coming year!


December 8, 2017 – Two Economics Department alumni, Henry Butler and Teyu Chou, were inducted into the College of Science Hall of Distinction in recognition of excellence in their professional careers, as well as in their service and philanthropy to civic groups and the university itself.  Read More…

October 30, 20csm_matje_heidelberg_hs-fresenius_27d9cdee1317 – We like to hear about how our alumni are doing, and today we received that good news that one of our former students, Dr. Thorsten Matje, is not only a professor of economics at, but he is also the new President of the University of Applied Sciences Heidelberg! Congratulations on your appointment, and the beginning of your academic career!

September 25, 2017 – A new paper by Dr. Alec Smith (together with coauthors from Caltech and Wharton) studies private information in dynamic, unstructured bargaining. The authors show how game theory can be used to make predictions about bargaining outcomes, even in complex dynamic bargaining environments. Dr. Smith and coauthors study this benchmark model in an experiment, and find that it can account for some but not all of the behavior. They use machine learning to demonstrate that the process of bargaining – how the bargainers interact – also influences whether a deal is reached. The work has implications for understanding deal making in a broad range of settings, from labor negotiations to climate change. The paper is forthcoming in Management Science.

August 28, 2017 – Congratulations to Prof. Hans Haller on his new book Groups and Market.  In this book Dr. Haller and his long-time collaborator Dr. Hans Gersbach of ETH Zurich organize, summarize and expand on their research on general equilibrium models with multi-member households. Often the economic models treat households like single consumers, although the decisions and well-being of individual members are obviously affected by the composition of their respective households. In turn, the formation of a household and its stability may depend on economic conditions and considerations. Professors Gersbach and Haller link together the formation, composition, decision-making and stability of households. Their more advanced models combine traditional exchange (markets for commodities) and matching (markets for people or partners). Their findings help improve our understanding of the economic aspects of social structure and inform economic policy.

Thursday, August 10, 2017 – Congratulations to Omid Bagheri, who successfully defended his dissertation, Three Essays in Applied Microeconomics today. Be sure to congratulate him as he prepares to head to his new job at Kent State!

Erika Cropped
Congratulations to Erika Perdue for being selected as the August Advisor of the Month from the Virginia Tech Office of Undergraduate Advising!



A paper co-authored by Dr. Djavad Salehi-Isfahani and recent Ph.D. Graduate Mohammad Mosafavi, titled “Cash Transfers and Labor Supply:  Evidence from A Large-Scale Program in Iran”, which was funded by a grant from the Economic Research Forum, has recently received media attention from Business Insider and Vox.

Dr. Sheryl Ball thumbnaildominiakCongratulations to Dr. Sheryl Ball on her promotion to Full Professor and to Dr. Adam Dominiak on his promotion to Associate Professor.


The Department is pleased to announce three new affiliate faculty appointments:

Brooks King-CasasBrooks King-Casas is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology with appointments at VTCRI, School of Neuroscience, School of Biomedical Engineering & Science, and Faculty of Health Sciences.
Michael Moehler is an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and is the Director and Founder of the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) Program.

Wen You is an Associate Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics in addition to serving with the Faculty of Health Sciences.


Thursday, June 1, 2017 – Economics major and championship swimmer, Klaudia Nazieblo was featured in the Spring 2017 Virginia Tech Magazine article “Skills and Gills”.

Kevin Neyland

On Saturday, May 13, 2017 – 59 Economics Degrees were awarded along with 2 PhDs to Dr. Thorsten Matje and Dr. Michael Michaelides. J. Martin Breuer, Erica Hjerpe and Jordan Lew were named as Outstanding Seniors and Ben Chenault and Eliza Stoner were named Outstanding Juniors. Our honored keynote speaker was Kevin Neyland, Class of 2017Principal at Clifton Consulting, LLC in Falls Church, VA, retired Deputy Administrator in the Office of Management & Budget, and a 1975 graduate from our department as well! Watch the keynote address here.  We wish all of our graduates the best of luck in their future endeavors! Click here to see more photos from our ceremony.

Shaowen LUO_thumbnailMonday, May 8 – Congratulations to Dr.Shaowen Luo, Dr. Shyam Ranganathan (Department of Statistics), Dr. Sudipta Sarangi and Dr. Byron Tsang! They have received a one-year Dean’s Discovery Fund from the College of Science for their pilot study, “A Tale of Two Networks: Trade and Financial Linkages in the Global Economy”. The goal of this project is to establish theoretical foundations and examine empirical patterns of the interplay between trade and financial networks.


Wednesday, April 26 – Sudipta Sarangi and co-author Chandan Kumar Jha (LeMoyne College) claim that Facebook plays a vital role in reducing government corruption.  Click here to read more.

David Bieri

Monday, April 24 – The Department is excited to announce the appointment of Dr. David Bieri as an Affiliate Associate Professor.  Dr. Bieri is also an Associate Professor of Urban Affairs with a joint appointment in the Global Forum on Urban and Regional Resilience.

ashleyMonday, April 10 – Congratulations to Professor Richard Ashley, who — in collaboration  with Professors Martha Ann Ball, Angela Scarpa and Julie Dunsmore from Psychology and Professor Cynthia Smith from Human Development — has received a $30,000 Scholars Program grant from the Virginia Tech Institute for Society, Culture and Environment (ISCE) for a pilot study, “Parent-child behavioral and physiological synchrony:  Foundation for children’s developing self-regulation.”

atiehvahidmaneshFriday, April 7 – Congratulations to Atiyeh Vahidmanesh, one of our graduate students who defended her dissertation earlier this semester, on her induction into the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society, which was established to recognize and celebrate inclusion and diversity. For more information, please look at today’s news story featuring Atiyeh and the other inductees here.

dongwooleeTuesday, April 4 – Congratulations to Dongwoo Lee, a Graduate Instructor who has been recognized as a Favorite Faculty Member! This award is through Housing and Residence Life within the Division of Student Affairs, it allows students living on campus to acknowledge faculty members who have had a positive impact on them.


Phi Beta KappaThursday, March 30 – Congratulations to Scott Confer, Jordan Lew, William Patton and Arianna Slate for being offered membership into Virginia Tech’s Mu Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most widely known academic honor society.  Phi Beta Kappa was founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary. Virginia Tech was granted a charter in 1977.


Sudipta at GLE1

Wednesday, March 29 –  Dr. Sudipta Sarangi shared the basics of Economics with 1st graders at Gilbert Linkous Elementary today.



Wednesday, March 22 – If you see Michael Michaelides today, be sure to tell him congratulations! At 11 am, he successfully defended his dissertation, entitled Revisiting the CAPM and the Fama-French Multi-Factor Models: Modeling Volatility Dynamics in Financial Markets. We wish him success as he wraps up his semester, and look forward to seeing what the world of economics has in store for him!

floraliMonday, March 13 – Zhuncheng (Flora) Li has been awarded a scholarship to attend the Ph.D. Summer School on Psychological Game Theory at the University of East Anglia. She was awarded the Non-EU student scholarship in a fiercely competitive application process.  Congratulations Flora!



Friday, February 17th – Congratulations to Atiyeh Vahidmanesh, who successfully defended her dissertation, Essays on Inequality and Education. We wish her luck as she moves on to bigger and better things, so be sure to congratulate her if you see her!



Monday, January 9, 2017 – Congratulations to Dr. Sudipta Sarangi for being appointed as a Co-Editor for the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.


Wednesday, Dec 7 – Congratulations to Dr. Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, Dr. Sudipta Sarangi and Dr. Wen You (AAEC)! They have received a $100,000 grant from Harvard Kennedy School for a pilot study on Increasing Employment with Peer EffectsRead more…



Wednesday, Nov. 30 – Associate professor Kwok Ping (Byron) Tsang has just joined the Global Forum on Urban and Regional Resilience (www.globalforum.vt.edu) at Virginia Tech as a Faculty Fellow. The Forum’s research initiatives focus on how the relationships among markets, institutions and the state are challenged by the scale and complexity of contemporary socio-economic processes that are spatially highly uneven. Byron will contribute with his expertise of macroeconomics and international finance and work on projects related to the research initiatives.

Gerelt Tserenjigmid


Monday, Nov. 21 – Dr. Gerelt Tserenjigmid, another professor who has joined our department this semester, is featured in today’s VT News! Have a look at the article to learn a bit more about him.

Tuesday, Nov. 15 – Congratulations to Thorsten Matje, who successfully defended his dissertation entitled “Empirical Analyses of a Spatial Model of Voter Preferences” this afternoon. Congratulations, and good luck as you finish out the semester before heading back to Germany!

Shaowen LUO_thumbnail

Thursday, Oct. 27 – Have a look at today’s VT News article recognizing one of our newest faculty members, Dr. Shaowen Luo.



Finally, we would like to congratulate Mohammad Hadi Mostafavi Dehzooei, who successfully defended his dissertation, “Essays on Labor and Development Economics,” on Friday, September 23rd. Best wishes to you, Mohammad, and to all of our graduates!


We would also like to congratulate Poulomi Dasgupta, who successfully defended her dissertation, “Essays on Intra-Household Bargaining Power of Women in India,” on Wednesday, September 21st. Good luck to her, and be sure to congratulate her if you see her!

The Economics Department wishes Alireza Oryoie a big congratulations for successfully defending his dissertation, “Essays on Child Labor and Inequality Analysis”! If you see him, be sure to congratulate our latest gradaute!


Dr. Sheryl Ball thumbnail

The Center for Instructional Development and Education Research (CIDER) has recognized Dr. Sheryl Ball as a Virginia Tech Teacher of the Week! Read more here.



The Center for Instructional Development and Education Research (CIDER) has recognized Dr. Steve Trost as a Virginia Tech Teacher of the Week! Read more here.



Dr. Eric Bahel thumbnailDr. Sheryl Ball thumbnailDr. Sudipta Sarangi thumbnail

 Congratulations to Dr. Eric Bahel (PI), Dr. Sheryl Ball and Dr. Sudipta Sarangi, whose research project on strategic lying and cooperation has received a Summer Scholars Award from the Institute for Society, Culture and Environment. It is well established in economic theory that cooperation often leads to efficient outcomes. However, self-interested agents typically fail to cooperate, which generates inefficient outcomes. This lack of cooperation is illustrated by well-known economic terms such as ‘the tragedy of the commons’. Their project examines a way of increasing cooperation between self-interested agents by combining pre-play communication and the proven notion that some agents are averse to deception or inequality; and they show that the standard result predicating non-cooperation is reversed. The project also includes an experimental component allowing to test the theoretical results. Applications relate to trade negotiations, conflict resolution, resource (mis)use, waste recycling, etc.

Congratulations to Zhuncheng (Flora) Li, a Ph.D. student in our program. She has received research funding from the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention’s Graduate Research on Violence Program for her project “Lying Aversion and Anger: Power of Communication in Conflict Resolution and Violence Prevention.”

Congratulations to Dr. Xiaojin (Aaron) Sun, our former Ph.D. student and Dr. Kwok Ping Tsang. Their paper What Drives the Owner-Occupied and Rental Housing Markets?  Evidence from an Estimated DSGE Model now forthcoming at Journal of Money, Credit and Banking.




Congratulations to Xi Chen!
The Economics department would like to extend our congratulations to Dr. Xi Chen, our newest graduate and alumnus. She graduated on May 14th, having successfully defended her dissertation entitled, “Three Essays on Labor Supply in China”.
In her words, “Both male and female labor market attachement has dramatically declined in China during the last three decades as the country makes its transition from a centrally-planned to a market-oriendted economy. My research seeks to understand this mysterious declining labor force participation rate in China by studying its evolution and determination in three essays: the first essay decomposes the decline of femalte labor force participation into different sources; the second essay studies how the former employment statusof a woman’s mother-in-law affects her current labor market participation decision; and the third essay explores how the inflow of rural migrants affects the labor supply decisions of urban residents in China.”
She will be working for the forecasting team at FedEx in Memphis, TN.

Commencement 2016
Congratulations to all of our 2016 Graduates!

On Saturday, May 14, 2016, 60 Economics, College of Science and 19 Economics, College of Business Degrees were awarded along with 1 Ph.D. to Dr. Xi Chen, Tyler Flinchum and Scott Confer were named as Outstanding Seniors and Arianna Slate was named Outstanding Junior. Our honored keynote speaker was Kyle Pedrotty, Vice President of Product Management at J.P. Morgan in Boston and a 2003 graduate from our department as well! We wish all of our graduates the best of luck in their furture endeavours!


Congratulations to Dr. Gebremeskel Gebremariam!
He has been unanimously selected as the recipient of the College of Science Diversity Award for 2015-16 for his dedication to students from all backgrounds and using his own personal experience to inspire them to appreciate what diversity means in a global sense, helping them become 21st century citizens.

haller Congratulations to Dr. Hans Haller, who has been named Scholar of the Week by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation for the week of May 2, 2016. Read more here.
Economics Senior, Clair Kelling, will be honored as White House Champion of Change
Dr. Sheryl Ball thumbnail Congratulations to Dr. Sheryl Ball, who has been named Scholar of the Week by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation. Read more here.
salehi On February 2 Iran held its first big election since the signing of the nuclear deal, for the Majles (or the parliament) and the Assembly of Experts that elects and oversees the Supreme Leader. The nuclear deal, signed last October, obligated Iran to partially dismantle its nuclear enrichment program in return for the removal of western sanctions. The day before the election, Virginia Tech economics professor Djavad Salehi-Isfahani was a guest on a one-hour the BBC World Service program, joined by three other experts, to discuss the significance of the elections. As it happened, Iranian voters reinforced President Rouhani’s mandate to push forward with his program of rapprochement with the West. Here are excerpts from that program.
salehi On January 19, 2016, Dr. Djavad Salehi-Isfahani was interviewed on NPR to discuss Iran’s reaction to economic sanctions being lifted. Click here to read the transcript or listen to the interview.
Economics Alumna 2nd Lt. Rebecca McAfee Named Independence Bowl Hokie Hero
ashley Dr. Richard Ashley and several other researchers with the Virginia Tech Center for Autisum Research were featured in an article in the Fralin Explorer (Fall 2015 issue) for their work studying autism and heart synchrony. Click here to read the article.
tideman Dr. Nicolaus Tideman was featured on a WDBJ7 news segment to address Social Security payment concerns. Click here to see the segment.

Virginia Tech President Timothy Sands visited the College of Science departments on September 22, 2015. As part of his visit to the Department of Economics, Dr. Sands participated in “The Ultimatum Game”. Visit our facebook page to learn more about the experiment and the results.

Dr. Ricahrd Ashley and Dr. Chris Parmeter (Univ. of Miami) have just had their paper,“When is it Justifiable to Ignore Explanatory Variable Endogeneity in a Regression Model?”accepted at Economic Letters.

Dr. Ashley is also a participant in a research group based in the Psychology Department, that was awarded a grant from the Institute for Society, Culture and Environment (ISCE) to support proposal development activities related to social reciprocity impairments in people with autism spectrum disorder through physiological linkage.

Dr. Sheryl Ball thumbnail Dr. Sheryl Ball is part of a multidisciplinary team of faculty at Virginia Tech that has been awarded a $1.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study smart city infrastructure. Click here to read more.
On September 15, 2015, Dr. Djavad Salehi-Isfahani participated in a panel discussion on the Iran Nuclear Deal along with faculty from Physics and Political Science. Click here to see video of Dr. Salehi’s talk. Also, visit our facbook page to read a student review of the panel.
facebook The Department of Economics has launced a new Facebook site! Please click here to “Like” and Follow our page for news, research reviews, fun events, and updates about faculty and students!
spanos Dr. Aris Spanos has been reappointed the Wilson E. Schmidt Professor of Economics by Virginia Tech President Timothy D. Sands and Executive Vice President and Provost Thanassis Rikakis. Click here for more information.
sarangi Sudipta Sarangi selected as Department Head
Dr. Sheryl Ball thumbnail Dr. Sheryl Ball and her colleagues at VTCRI have research published this week in Nature Neuroscience. The publication is also featured in a Virginia Tech News article.

Xiaojin (Aaron) Sun, a graduate student in Economics, has recently accepted a
tenure-track position at the Department of Economcs and Finance at the
University of Texas, El Paso. Congratulations!

Dr. Sheryl Ball was featured in the College of Science Annual in an issue dedicated to Women in Science. Click here to read the article


The Center for Instructional Development and Education Research (CIDER) has recognized Dr. Gebre Gebremariam as a Virginia Tech Teacher of the Week! Read more here.

li The Center for Instructional Development and Education Research (CIDER) has recognized Dr. Grace Li as a Virginia Tech Teacher of the Week! Read more here.

Professor Gebre Gebremariam has been recognized as a Favorite Faculty Member! This award is through Housing and Residence Life within the Division of Student Affairs, it allows students living on campus to acknowledge faculty members who have had a positive impact on them. See video here.

Dr. Sheryl Ball discussed the game theory behind Jeopardy villain’s winning strategy on WDBJ7. See the video here.
Professor Gebre Gebremariam won an Excellence in Access and Inclusion Award from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Virginia Tech.