How Can Students Get Involved in Research?

Performing hands-on research is a great way to build a deeper understanding of economic topics that are of interest to you. It is also a way to open doors, either as a path towards graduate school, or as tangible work experience that you can put on a resume. There are numerous resources available to you at St. Thomas, regionally, and nationally. 

Airline Industry

Fournier, Gary, Monica Hartmann, and Thomas Zuehlke. "New Carrier Entry and Airport Substitution by Travelers: Why Do We Have to Drive to Fly?" Advances in Airline Economics, Vol. II, edited by Darin Lee, Elsevier Publishing, 2007. 

Hartmann, Monica. “Access to Airport Facilities: Its Impact on Market Competition” Advances in Airline Economics, Vol. I edited by Darin Lee, Elsevier Publishing, 2006

Hartmann, Monica. “Airport Runways’ Impact on Competition: Does it depend on the source of the funding that financed construction?" Working Paper.

Asset Pricing

Du, Ding, Oh Hu, and Hong Wu. “Emerging Market Currency Exposure: Taiwan, Journal of Multinational Financial Management 28, 47-61. 2014.

Wu, Hong. International Asset Pricing Models: A Forecasting Evaluation", International Research Journal of Finance and Economics 15, 175-184. 2008.

Wu, Hong. “The Value and Size Effect—Are There Firm-Specific-Risks in China’s Domestic Stock Markets? International Journal of Economics and Finance 3, 26-37. 2011.

Automobile Industry

Engers, Maxim, Monica Hartmann, and Steven Stern. “A Dynamic, Empirical Model of Adverse Selection in the Used Car Market” Working Paper.  
Engers, Maxim, Monica Hartmann, and Steven Stern. "Annual Miles Drive Used Car Prices" Journal of Applied Econometrics, 24(1), 2009: 1-33. 
Engers, Maxim, Monica Hartmann, and Steven Stern. "Are Lemons Really Hot Potatoes?" International Journal of Industrial Organization, 27(2), 2009: 250-263.  
Engers, Maxim, Monica Hartmann, and Steven Stern. “Automobile Maintenance Costs, Used Cars, and Private Information” Working Paper. 
Engers, Maxim, Monica Hartmann, and Steven Stern. “Estimation of Car Scrapping Rates” Working Paper. 


Check, Adam. “A New Test for Asset Bubbles” Working Paper.
Hartmann, Monica and Ellen Merry. “Channel Choice: Consumer Banking in a Time of Technological Innovation” Working Paper 

Development and Growth 

Arias, Omar, Javier Escobal and Luz Saavedra. “Spatial Patterns of Poverty and Income distribution in Peru. Evidence from Provincial data, 1993-2005, Working paper 2013.
Check, Adam and Tyler Schipper. “What Predicts Informality?: A Bayesian Model Averaging Approach” Working Paper.
Schipper, Tyler. “Informality, Innovation, and Aggregate Productivity Growth” Working Paper. 


Kim, Matthew. “Early Decision and Financial Aid Competition Among Need-Blind Schools and Universities,” Journal of Public Economics, June 2010, 94(5-6), 410–420.


Allen, Jeffrey, Shanthi Nataraj, and Tyler C. Schipper. "Strict Duality and Overlapping Productivity Distributions between Formal and Informal Firms." Journal of Development Economics, 135, 2018: 534-554.

Food Security 

Groves, Lincoln, Sarah Hamersma, and Matthew Kim. “Educational Compromises: The Impacts of Food Inadequacy among Young Adults” Working Paper. 
Hamersma, Sarah, and Matthew Kim. “Food Security and Teenage Labor Supply,” Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, March 2016, 38(1), 73–92.


Check, Adam, Anna Kate Nolan, and Tyler Schipper. “Forecasting GDP Growth using Disaggregated GDP Revisions” MPRA Working Paper No. 86194.


Hamersma, Sarah, and Matthew Kim.  “Participation and Crowd Out: Assessing the Effects of Parental Medicaid Expansions,” Journal of Health Economics, January 2013, 32(1), 160–171. 
Hamersma, Sarah, and Matthew Kim“The Role of Public Health Insurance During Employment Transitions” Working Paper.
Hamersma, Sarah, Matthew Kim, and Brenden Timpe. “The Effect of Parental Medicaid Expansions on Children’s Health Insurance Coverage” forthcoming in Contemporary Economic Policy.
Hartmann, Monica, and J. Roxanne Prichard. "Calculating the contribution of sleep problems to undergraduates' academic success." Sleep Health: Journal of the Sleep Foundation, 4(5), 2018: pages 463-471.
Hartmann, Monica, and J. Roxanne Prichard. "Should universities invest in promoting healthy sleep? A questions of academic and economic significance." Forthcoming at Sleep Health: Journal of the Sleep Foundation, 2019.


Damon, Amy and Suzanne L.W. Wisniewski. "Migrant Responses to Adverse Household Shocks: Do Family Relationship and Types of Schocks Matter?" Migration and Development, 4(1): 4-22. 2015.
Gorsuch, Marina Mileo and Deborah Rho. “Race, Religion, and Immigration: Experimental Evidence from the Labor Market” Working Paper. 
Saavedra, Luz. “The trade-enhancing effect of temporary immigrants.” Working Paper.
Rho, Deborah and Seth Sanders. "Immigrant Earnings Assimilation in the United States: A Panel Analysis," Journal of Labor Economics, Forthcoming.
Rho, Deborah and Seth Sanders. “Immigrant Earnings Assimilation: The Role of the Firm.” Working Paper.

International Education, Health and Nutrition

Aturupane, Harsha, Paul Glewwe, Thomas Kellaghan, Renato Ravina, Upul Sonnadara, and Suzanne Wisniewski. "An Impact Evaluation of Sri Lanka's Policies to Promote the Academic Performany of Primary School Students through School Improvement and Report Card Programs." Report No. 35, South Asia Human Development Sector. 2011.
Aturupane, Harsha, Paul Glewwe, Renato Ravina, Upul Sonnadara, and Suzanne Wisniewski. "An Assessment of the Impacts of Sri Lanka's Prgramme for School Improvement and School Report Card Prgramme on Students' Academic Progress." Journal of Development Studies, 50(12): 1647-1669. 2014.
Aturupane, Harsha, Paul Glewwe and Suzanne Wisniewski. "The Impact of School Quality and Child Health on Academic Performance in Sri Lanka Primary Schools." Education Economics, 21(1): 2-37. 2013.
Damon, Amy, Paul Glewwe, Bixuan Sun, and Suzanne Wisniewski. Education in Developing Countries: What Policies and Programs Affect Learning and Time in School? A Review of Academic and aid Agency Evaluations from 1990-2014." Report 2016:02. The Expert Group for Aid Studies (EBA), Stockholm, Sweden. 2016.
Damon, Amy, Paul Glewwe, Bixuan Sun, and Suzanne Wisniewski. "What Education Policies and Programs Affect Learning and Time in School in Developing Countries?" Review of Education. 2018.
Fajardo-Gonzalez, Johanna, Paul Glewwe, Adan silverios Murillo, and suzanne Wisniewski. "Alternate Education for Rural Development in Peru: Evaluation of the Effect of CRFA Schools on Retention." Paper prepared for the Ministry of Education in Peru and UNESCO-Peru. 2016.
Glewwe, Paul, Bixuan sun, Rongjia Shen and Suzanne Wisniewski. "Teachers in Developing Countries", forthcoming chapter in Economics of Education (Ed. Steve Bradley).
Glewwe, Paul, Tomoko Utsumi and Suzanne Wisniewski. "The Impacy of Sri Lanka's School-Based Management Program on Teachers' Pedagogical Practices and Studnt Learning: Evidence from a Rondomized Controlled Trial." Paper prepared for The World Bank. 2018.
Wisniewski, Suzanne L.W. "Child Nutrition, Health Problems and School Achievement in Sri Lanka." World Development, 38(3): 315-332. 2010.
Wisniewski, Suzanne L. W. "Child Obesity Among the Poor in Peru: Are there implication for congnitive outcomes?" Journal of Economics and Human Biology. Vol 26, pp. 51-60. 2017.
Wisniewski, Suzanne L. W. and Terry Roe. "Health Expenditures and Externalities: Their Contribution to Economic Growth." Working Paper.

International Trade

Saavedra, Luz. "Is Internation Trade Relevant to Social Trust Formation? Evidence from Cross-Country Analysis." 2017. Working Paper.
Saavedra, Luz. "International Trade and Social Capital: Evidence from the US States." Working Paper.
Saavedra, Luz. "International Trade as a Determinant of Social Capital: Evidence from Cross-Country Data." Working Paper.
Saavedra, Luz. "International Trade as a Determinant of Social Trust: The Role of Geographic Proximity." Working Paper.
Wisniewski, Suzanne L.W. "Effects of Foreign Intellectual Property Rights on U.S. Bilateral Exports of Biotechnology Related to Agricultural Inputs." Journal of World Intellectual Property, 8(2): 193-210. 2005.

Macro Public Policy 

Allen, Jeffrey and Tyler Schipper. “Informality, Entry Costs, and Differential Acces to Public Goods.” Working Paper.
Check, Adam. “Estimating the FOMC’s Interest Rate Rule: A Markov-Switching Stochastic Search Variable Selection Approach” Working Paper.
Check, Adam. “Interest Rate Rules in Practice - the Taylor Rule or a Tailor-Made Rule?” Working Paper. 
Ran, Jimmy, and Hong Wu. “Volatility of Macro Fundamentals across Exchange Rate Regimes: a Theoretical Exploration”, International Journal of Economics and Finance 3, 79-90. 2011.  
Riley, Rob, and Luz Saavedra. “Cross Country Spillovers of Social Capital” Working Paper, 2013.  
Schipper, Tyler. “The Decision to Innovate: Aggregate Implications of Size-Based Distortions” Working Paper.

Micro Public Policy 

Del Ponte, Natalie, and Tyler Schipper. "Bus Ridership and the Minimum Wage." Working Paper.
Hamersma, Sarah, and Matthew Kim. “Job Lock: New Estimates for At-Risk Populations” Working Paper.   
Kim, Matthew. “Charitable Gifts of Time and Money in Retirement.” Working Paper. 
Kim, Matthew. “Estimating Life-Cycle Elasticities of Charitable Giving.” Working Paper.
Saavedra, Luz. “Did PRWORA legislation induce a Race to the Bottom in Welfare Provision in the US? Evidence using States’ Welfare Expenditures data from 1997-2006. Working Paper.
Saavedra, Luz. “Welfare spending, welfare reform and social capital.” Working Paper.  


Badasyan, Narine, Jacob K. Goeree, Monica Hartmann, Charles Holt, John Morgan, Tanya Rosenblat, Maros Servatka, and Dirk Yandell. "Vertical Integration of Successive Monopolists: A Classroom Experiment" Perspectives on Economic Education Research Journal, 5(1), 2009.
Combs, Kathy, Monica Hartmannand Joseph Kreitzer. “An International Exercise to Increase Awareness of How Market, Political, and Cultural Forces Affect Economic Activity” Working Paper. 
Conway, Patrick, Ann Davis, Monica Hartmann, and Derek Stimel "Case Use in Economics Instruction" in Teaching Innovations in Economics: Strategies and Applications for Interactive Instruction, edited by Michael Salemi and William Walstad, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2011
Hartmann, Monica and Terence Langan. "Common Good Through the Lens of Catholic Social Teaching: A Case Study for Principles of Macroeconomics" Working Paper.

Hartmann, Monica and Robert Werner. "Hyperinflation: What can Zimbabwe teach us?" National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, 2011

Hartmann, Monica. “Is your CFO smarter than a sophomore?: Applying Economics to Managerial University Decisions” 

Schipper, Tyler. “Developing Consumers of Economic Data: A Classroom Forecasting Exercise” Working Paper.

Racial Disparities and Discrimination 

Gorsuch, Marina Mileo and Deborah Rho. "Police Stops and Searches of Indigenous People in Minneapolis: The Roles of Race, Place, and Gender." International Indigenous Policy Journal, Forthcoming.
GorsuchMarina Mileo and Deborah Rho. “The Effect of the 2016 United States Presidential Election on Employment Discrimination.” Working Paper. 
Hartmann, Monica and Beth Freeborn. "Judicial Discretion and Sentencing Behavior: Did the Feeney Amendment Reign in District Judges?" Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 7(2), 2010: 355-378.
Hartmann, Monica and Beth Freeborn. “Racial Disparities in Federal Sentencing: A Quantile Regression Approach”


Kim, Matthew. “Are Charitable Giving and Religious Attendance Complements or Substitutes? The Role of Measurement Error,” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Spring 2013, 32(2), 373–390. 
Walrath, Michael W. "Entry Models Applied to Churches: Could Protestants use a Catholic Bishop to Solve Excess Entry?."The Journal of Industrial Economics64.3 (2016): 557-588.
Walrath, Michael W. “A Firm Entry Approach to Religious Pluralism and Religious Participation” Economics Bulletin 37.3 (2017): A164  
Walrath, Michael W. “A Model of Church Exit” Working Paper.   

Sports Industry 

Papagapitos, Agapitos. “The MRP of Elite College Football Players” Working Paper.  

The Economics Department encourages students to get involved in research. It is one of the best ways to get more out of your economics major and stand out to future employers. The best way to get started is by talking to your faculty advisor. There are opportunities to assist faculty with their ongoing research as well as find a faculty mentor to help you develop and execute your own research project. Students can research during the academic year, J-term, or over the summer. There are many opportunities to fund your research through the Grants and Research Office. Students can get funds to cover research costs, such as summer housing, or simply to replace work with economic research! The Economics Department may also be able to help with research related expenses including traveling to present your work at conferences. 

Faculty-Led Research

Are you interested in digging deep into research with a faculty mentor? The Collaborative Inquiry Grant program gives you the opportunity to do that on a part-time basis (approximately 10 hours per week) during the academic year. Grants are offered in both the fall and spring semesters. Students receive a stipend of $1,000 for the semester. The purpose of this grant program is to give students the freedom of time so that they are able to delve into the world of research: either learning how to do research or continuing and honing skills already acquired. This intensive educational experience complements, enhances and deepens learning in the traditional classroom. Students from all academic disciplines are eligible to apply—from the STEM sciences, to the social sciences and humanities. Visit the Grants and Research Office webpage to learn more. 

  • Partnership in Learning

This program awards stipends to experienced, well-qualified students for work with faculty on either teaching or research projects. Applicants can apply for single-semester projects or projects that span two consecutive semesters. Student stipend is $1,000 per semester. 

  • Economics Research Grant

Student-Led Research

The Department of Economics held its first annual economic data analysis competition to be held on May 4th. Teams comprised of economics majors and minors will conduct independent original research, analyze real-world data, and communicate their findings to a panel of economics faculty judges. Data is provided to participants. Whether you are ready to try your hand at research for the first time or you are already a data veteran, this competition is for you! MinneAnalytics

  • MinneAnalytics

Each year MinneAnalytics, the Twin Cities Big Data, Data Science and Analytics Community, hosts a data analytics competition where 51 undergraduate and graduate teams from 30 different Midwestern colleges and universities compete for prizes.

2017 student participants: Rachel Artig  (ECON/STAT), Sydney Benson (MATH/STAT), Regina Burroughs (ECON/STAT), Kathryn Foltz (ECON), Elsa Langenwalter (CISC), Morgan McCorkle (STAT), Jessica Mohr (ECON/STAT), and Anna Starks (ECON).

2017 Faculty mentors: Drs. Adam Check, Monica Hartmann, Matt Kim, and Tyler Schipper.   

The Young Scholars grant program awards individual grants to undergraduate students at the University of St. Thomas who are interested in spending an entire summer working full time (40 hours per week for 10 weeks, or 400 hours total during the grant period) with a professor on a significant research project or creative activity. Students receive a summer stipend of $4,000 and a $700 on-campus housing stipend (if needed) from the end of May to the middle of August. These grants give students the time and resources they need for meaningful reflection and in-depth inquiry into a problem or issue of interest to both them and their faculty mentor. Students from all academic disciplines are eligible to apply. Visit the Grants and Research Office webpage to learn more.  

  • Independent Study
  • Honors Thesis

While St. Thomas offers a variety of research opportunties on-campus, the department recognizes and supports students who look to expand their passion off-campus. Several research and publishing competitions are listed below, along with St. Thomas resources that financial aid in travel expenses.


Undergraduate Research Paper Competition- Midwest Economics Association (MEA)

  • The Midwest Economics Association offers a $200 prize to the winner of the competition. Undergraduates are asked to submit a proposal on a research topic of their choosing and those who are selected will present in MEA's annual meeting. More information can be found in the link above.

Other Research Opportunties-American Economic Association (AEA)

  • The American Economic Association's website lists information about a variety of economic competitions across the nation. Links to specific competitions can be found on the website.


Research Travel Grants  

  • The Research Travel Grant program awards individual grants to undergraduate students at the University of St. Thomas who demonstrate a need to travel in order to complete or enhance an individually-mentored-research project. These grants are designed to give students funding to allow them to travel, either domestically or internationally, to locations outside of the Twin Cities in order to complete or enhance their research. Visit the Grants and Research Office webpage to learn more.  

For students who look to enhance their presentational skillset, the St. Thomas Economics Department recognizes a variety of competition geared towards undergraduates conducting and presenting their research findings.

Columbia University-Research Competition

  • Historically, the Columbia Economics Review was the first undergraduate economics journal in the United States. The winners of the annual competition not only receive a cash prize, they also are featured in the printed and electronic journal.
  • A link to this year's prompt can be found here.
  • A link to the prior year's prompt can be found here.

Best Undergraduate Paper Award- International Atlantic Economics Society (IAES)

  •  The IAES offers undergraduates the opportunity to compete globally on research topics of their picking. The top four finalists are asked to orally present their findings in Florida, and the final three are given publishing opportunities. The winner is given a cash prize of $500 and a plaque and complimentary publishing in the Atlantic Economic Journal.

Conference Travel Grants 

The University of St. Thomas invites many undergraduate students to present their research at academic conferences each year. The Grants and Research Office supports these presentations by offering a limited number of travel grants for undergraduate students. These grants typically provide funding for air and ground transportation, lodging, meeting registration, meals, and other expenses directly related to the student's attendance at an academic conference. These grants are a reimbursement of actual expenses, after a student has completed his or her travel. Visit the Grants and Research Office webpage to learn more. 

Getting involved with faculty research as a research assistant is a great way to attain research skills and can be a good stepping-stone to eventually developing your own project.  Your first step should be to talk to a professor about your general interest.  Even if that professor’s research area is not the area you’re interested in, this is a good place to start because the professor could direct you to a colleague who might be a better fit.  If you have limited experience in economics research, it’s good to have an open mind about the kind of project you might want to get involved in.  This is because, there are many research skills that can be applied to a broad range of subjects and getting some experience and attaining these skills will be helpful in eventually researching your topic of interest.

A very useful skill in economics research is the ability to analyze data.  We recommend that you take ECON 315 (Introduction to Econometrics) as soon as possible if you’re interested in research.  There are opportunities to work on research without this course but having econometrics skills will be a great asset as a research assistant.

You should view working as a research assistant for a faculty member like any other job when it comes to taking the work seriously and behaving professionally.  Often times, because of the nature of research, the hours will be flexible and you will be able to work from home.  This means it’s important to respond promptly to emails about the work and maintain good communication about your project with your faculty supervisor.

There are various funding sources available through the Economics Department and the University that you and your faculty supervisor can apply to for payment for your work.  If your circumstances allow, you may consider working as an unpaid research assistant initially to get started on a project and then apply for funding if your research timeline does not align exactly with the funding application deadlines.

Finally, be proactive and patient.  It can take time to find research opportunities that are a good fit for you.  Even if you don’t find a research assistant position right away, talking to faculty about your interest will mean that they will keep you in mind when they, or someone else in the department, are looking for a research assistant.  In the meantime, another way you can develop your research skills is to compete in the annual data competition.  For those who have taken econometrics, you can talk to professors about developing your own research project.