Research & Fieldwork

Students in classroomAt Whittier College, our student body works in close, active collaboration with professors who are leaders in their fields. Together, this team of learners conducts research projects that push the boundaries of knowledge and inquiry.

Students are encouraged to engage in research projects, either on their own, as part of their coursework, or jointly with faculty members. Students are also encouraged to present their research at conferences such as the Southern California Conference for Undergraduate Research (SSCUR) and at the College's own Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity (URSCA) Conference.

Recent examples of student-faculty research include a book chapter co-authored by Stacy Yamasaki ’17 and Professor Roger White. The chapter, titled “Multidimensional Poverty among the Native- and Foreign-born in the United States: Evidence from the 2010-2014 American Community Surveys,” will be included in an edited volume titled Multidimensional Poverty and Deprivation: Measurement, Incidence and Determinants that is scheduled for publication in summer 2017. A similar example is a book chapter written by Shane Francis ’16 and Professor White. The chapter, titled “A Culture Shaped by Immigrants: Examining the Consequences of U.S. Immigration Policy,” was published in June 2016 as part of an edited volume titled International Migration: Politics, Policies and Practices. Yet another recent example is a paper written by Nicole Yamasaki ’15 and Professor White titled “Source-Destination Cultural Differences, Immigrants’ Skill Levels, and Immigrant Stocks: Evidence from Six OECD Member Host Countries.” The paper was published in the August 2014 issue of the National Institute Economic Review.

Additional examples of student-faculty research collaboration include research assistance provided by Ashling Massoumi '15 and Patrick Rubalcava '15 on Professor White's 2015 book, titled Cultural Differences and Economic Globalization: Effects on Trade, FDI, and Migration. During the spring and summer of 2016, several students (Krissy Arechiga '17, Sony Hoang '17, Nathan Landau '17, Da Eun Lee '18, Lindsey MacDonald '17, and Angela Swenson '19) worked with department faculty as Research Assistants.

All Economics majors complete a senior project which consists of in-depth original research on a topic of the student’s choosing. The project involves analysis of the selected topic, including a synthesis of related literature and the gathering and examination of data to test particular hypotheses. Guidance is provided by faculty in the selection of topics, determination of appropriate research methodology, and the writing of the thesis; however, the senior project affords majors a unique opportunity to apply the knowledge they have gained during their undergraduate careers, to hone existing research, writing, and presentation skills, and to acquire new skills.

Recent Senior Projects

Class of 2016

  • Moise Bongoyok, Estimating Illicit Capital Flows: The Relationship to African-based Terrorism
  • Victor Cornejo, Marriage and the Economy: What “I do” Really Means
  • Sam Farmer, Estimating the Economic Value of the Pollination of California Agriculture
  • Shane Francis, Gimme Shelter: The Impacts of Refugees on Hosting Countries
  • Nicholas Guerrero, Macroeconomic Factors: An Explanatory Source for Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Tri (Sony) Hoang, Economic Effects of a Tsunami: Is There a Lasting Effect?  (Winner of 2016 Award for Best Senior Project)
  • Maxwell Jones, Olympinomics: The Underlying Economics of the Summer Olympic Games 
  • Truman Lyford, The Trans-Pacific Partnership and Political Backlash: An Economic Evaluation of Free Trade Agreements
  • Tony Martir, A Bright Future: Government Policy Effects on the Demand for Solar Photovoltaic, 1997-2012
  • William C. McKenzie, The Split of Two Nations: China and Taiwan
  • Eli Phelps, The Economics of Affirmative Action: Is Affirmative Action Working?

Class of 2015

  • Max Baron, U.S. Military Presence Abroad and U.S. Exports
  • Geoffrey Booker, Innovation in China
  • Foster Cunningham, The National Football League: Does Academic Rank Mean More Money?
  • Meagan Elizondo, Latina Business Owners and Community Change
  • Ashling Massoumi, Applying Behavioral Economics to Microfinance: How Small Changes Rooted in an Understanding of Borrower Behavior Can Improve Financial Product Design
  • Stefan Munoz, The Analysis of a Kenyan World Bank Survey
  • Nicole Naghash, Unequal Equality: Ethnic Differences in China
  • Carlos Pina, Economic Determinants of Life Expectancy
  • Zachary Rager, As American as Apple Pie: A Historical Economic Analysis of the Beer Industry in the United States
  • Patrick Rubalcava, Holy Discrimination, Batman!: An Analysis of the United States Comic Book Industry, (Winner of 2015 Award for Best Senior Project)
  • Trevor Wegman, The Olympic Games: Boom or Bust
  • Nicole Yamasaki, Maximizing the Benefits of Minimum Wage

Class of 2014

  • Arianna Assenmacher, Sociological and Economic Determinants of Voting in the United States
  • Andrew Chen, Crime and Society
  • Corinne Cleveland, Economic Determinants of Well-being
  • Dylan Irwin, Determinants of Professional Sports Franchise Establishments
  • Levon Massmanian, Economic Consequences of the Civil War: A Slow Death in Syria (Winner of 2014 Award for Best Senior Project)
  • John Pellarin, Timing Effects in the Market for Residential Real Estate
  • Laurel Pinkley, The Effect of College Ranking Systems on Private Higher Learning Institutions
  •  David Raygoza, Quantitative Easing and Manufacturing Industry-level Output

Class of 2013

  • Jasper Albright, Cap-and-Trade Carbon Markets: Delayed Migration to Renewable Energy Production
  • Sean Bahar, The Transformation and Development of China's Economy from 1949 to 2012 (Co-winner of 2013 Award for Best Senior Project)
  • Eddie Beckerman, Mergers and Acquisitions in the Energy and Power Industries
  • Jonathan Grubb, Rational Behavior in Sports? A Look at NFL Players and Their Bad Decisions
  • Melissa Lam, The Economics of Hiring a Federal Employee
  • Wiles Larimer, Recessionary Fitness, 2006-11, (Co-winner of 2013 Award for Best Senior Project)
  • Leslie Lequang, The Economic Effects of Protestantism in Europe
  • Ernie Reus, Differentiating Brain Drain: Factors Influencing Migration among Three Job Skills
  • Kristen Rock, Cast Your Vote Accordingly: The Effect of Economic Growth on Presidential Elections    
  • Brian Ybarra, Simultaneous Quantile Regression and the Gravity Model                            

To help prepare students for the Senior Project, all Economics courses include a writing component. Additionally, our Econometrics course requires students to complete an original research project. The Senior Project culminates each spring semester when majors present their research to their peers, professors, families, and friends.

Economics majors are also encouraged to present their research findings as part of the Southern California Conferences for Undergraduate Research and to submit their work for possible publication in peer-reviewed undergraduate research journals. Majors are also encouraged to seek out opportunities to co-author works with members of the Economics department faculty.

Students further interact with faculty members in programs that are part of the College’s Centers of Distinction and take place at Garrett and Hartley Faculty Masters' Houses, on-campus residences where professors live for a multi-year term and coordinate and host an array of educational and social activities.