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Economics Department

College of Business

Economics News - 2014

December 20, 2014 - School Facilities Commission talks long-term funding (Casper Star Tribune) - Members of the Wyoming School Facilities Commission on Wednesday discussed two studies on long term funding for the department and its projects.  Read more

December 19, 2014 - School Facilities Commission considers long-term funding (Wyoming Tribune Eagle) - Wyoming may be heading for a larger discussion of school financing. Read more

UW Researchers Urge New Approach to Pandemic Prevention

December 19, 2014 — A University of Wyoming economics faculty member and a recent UW Ph.D. graduate are among the authors of a scientific paper calling for increased global efforts to fight emerging diseases before they can spread significantly.

The article is based on Jamison Pike’s dissertation research in the Department of Economics and Finance at UW, directed by Professor David Finnoff.

Pike, now working as an economist with the New York City-based EcoHealth Alliance, and Finnoff joined colleagues from EcoHealth Alliance in writing the article that appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. TIME magazine featured this research in its most recent issue, stating: “… Experts estimate the world will see about five new emerging infectious diseases each year and that we need new prevention strategies to cut economic losses.”

Using economic modeling to assess responses to outbreaks of diseases such as Ebola, the researchers make an economic case for immediate efforts to reduce the underlying drivers of disease emergence -- and the human behaviors that cause it to spread.

“Our findings illustrate the significant savings that can be generated by global initiatives to mitigate disease emergence,” Finnoff says. “Mitigation policies are worth implementing even if they are minimally effective in reducing emerging disease risk.”

The World Health Organization reports that the number of people infected with Ebola has surpassed 17,000, with more than 6,000 deaths. The two-year financial cost of Ebola may reach $32.6 billion, according to the World Bank.

Meanwhile, estimates of the economic cost of an influenza pandemic range from $374 billion to $7.3 trillion, with the potential for 142 million deaths globally, according to the paper.

The researchers note that 60 percent of all human diseases and 75 percent of all emerging infectious diseases involve animal-to-human transmission. As a result, the underlying factors that contribute to disease outbreaks result primarily from human population growth and environmental changes -- which increase the risk of emergence of viral, parasitic and bacterial diseases in humans and animals.

Strategies exist to reduce the underlying causes of disease emergence -- such as increasing farm biosecurity, promoting behavioral change in at-risk populations and detecting pathogens in wildlife -- but they require collaborative efforts among governmental and intergovernmental agencies, the researchers say. Instead, most current pandemic control programs are reactive and focus on reducing the impact of a pathogen after it has infected many.

“Our economic modeling shows us the new approach to address emerging diseases at the source is the right long-term strategy,” Pike says.

If governments and other agencies immediately focus their policies on reducing the likelihood of an emerging disease originating, they could save between $344 billion and $360.8 billion over the next century, the article concludes.

It can be viewed at

Finnoff says Pike’s research “demonstrates the quality of both our UW graduate students and the training they receive.”

UW Hires Excellence Chair in Conservation Economics

head portrait of woman against background of African plains and trees

H. Jo Albers, the new Knobloch Wyoming Excellence Chair for Conservation Economics and Finance at the University of Wyoming, participates in a safari during her time as a Fulbright Scholar in Tanzania in 2013. (UW Photo)

December 19, 2014 — The University of Wyoming’s expertise in conservation economics has taken a step forward with the arrival of a new faculty member who has extensive domestic and international experience researching the intersection of economic and ecological systems.

H. Jo Albers has joined the UW faculty to fill the newly endowed Knobloch Wyoming Excellence Chair for Conservation Economics and Finance. She comes from Oregon State University, where she was a professor in the OSU College of Forestry’s Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society and in the graduate Applied Economics program. Her UW faculty position in the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources includes a joint appointment with theDepartment of Economics and Finance in the College of Business.

“With its migratory species, range of land uses from recreation to energy, and patterns of land ownership, Wyoming is a veritable laboratory for studying conservation tools to promote ecologically healthy, working landscapes,” Albers says. “I’m excited about research and teaching collaborations with people across the university and the state.”

In 2013, the Knobloch Family Foundation contributed $2 million to the Haub School toward a conservation economics endowed chair. Other Wyoming families also contributed. The state matched the gifts with funds from the Excellence in Higher Education Endowment, established by the Legislature in 2006 to create senior faculty positions for distinguished scholars and educators at UW.

The Knobloch family has a strong interest in research and education that can lead to recognizing the value of natural capital including open landscapes, robust wildlife populations and functioning ecosystems. Carl Knobloch first visited Wyoming while working in the oil and gas industry. He and his family moved here permanently because of the large, intact landscapes and impressive migratory herds of deer, elk and other wildlife.

Albers, who holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University California-Berkeley and other degrees in geology and environmental studies, was a 2013 Fulbright Scholar at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, where her research and outreach focused on policies to promote both biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation.

Taking an interdisciplinary approach to research and teaching, Albers integrates information about ecological and institutional systems into economic decision frameworks at a landscape scale. She looks forward to developing new research questions and collaborations in Wyoming.

“Dr. Albers’ research on the interactions of private and public resource manager/users in the production of ecosystem services will inform strategies for protecting landscapes in Wyoming and the West,” Haub School Director Indy Burke says. “We’re excited about her plans to build communities across campus to teach, conduct analyses, and undertake outreach from an interdisciplinary perspective.”

November 13, 2014 - Wyoming coal: tougher sell with U.S.-China climate deal (Casper Star Tribune) - Wyoming coal exports will likely suffer as a result of an agreement by the United States and China to cut carbon dioxide emissions, analysts said Wednesday.  Read more

October 30, 2014 - Single new transmission line could be worth $100M a year (Wyoming Business Report) - When the University of Wyoming launched the School of Energy Resources in 2006, UW College of Business Associate Professor Rob Godby didn't think it would really have any impact on his work...Read more

Anne Alexander Publishes Blog on AAAS Website

photo of Anne AlexanderOctober 6, 2014 — UW economist and International Programs Director Anne Alexander, a policy fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, published a blog on the AAAS website that analyzed the economic impacts of pandemics in response to the current Ebola outbreak.

September 26, 2014 - UW Receives $4.25 Million DOE Grant to Explore Wind Energy (University of Wyoming) - The University of Wyoming has received a $4.25 million Department of Energy-EPSCoR grant to research wind farm modeling, transmission grid monitoring and the economics derived from wind-generated power. Read more

UW Ranks Among World Leaders in Environmental Economics

September 10, 2014 — The University of Wyoming Department of Economics and Finance has one of the world’s top programs in environmental economics, according to a prestigious worldwide organization that disseminates economics research.

In its “Top 10% Institutions and Economists in the Field of Environmental Economics,” Research Papers in Economics ranked the UW Department of Economics and Finance 11th -- tied with Oxford University. The list includes all academic and non-academic research institutions globally.

Among universities only, UW is ranked seventh in the world, again tied with Oxford. Among only U.S. universities, UW is fourth behind Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale.

“The ranking is a tribute to the considerable research productivity and performance of all the Economics and Finance faculty engaged in environment economics,” says Ed Barbier, the John S. Bugas Professor of Economics and Finance in the UW College of Business. “It also reflects well on the entire university and College of Business, which over the years has supported and facilitated the decision by our department to make environmental economics our key field of specialty.

“That decision has proven to be far-sighted, as our environmental economics program has now demonstrated that it is one of the best among universities in the United States and the world.”

In addition to the ranking for the entire department, three faculty members are listed among the world’s top 100 environmental economists. Barbier is ranked 23rd, while Jay Shogren, Stroock Professor of Natural Resource Conservation and Management, is 41st on the list. Shogren recently was named a fellow of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, the nation’s pre-eminent professional society for environmental economists and policy.

Chuck Mason, UW's H.A. "Dave" True Jr. Chair in Petroleum and Natural Gas Economics, is ranked 91st on the Researcher Papers in Economics list.

“That is another indication of the depth in our department, with three of the endowed chairs ranked individually in the top 100 environmental economists in the world,” Barbier says.

The Department of Economics and Finance offers undergraduate and master's degrees in economics and finance, including a dual master's in economics and finance combined, as well as a doctoral degree in economics. In 2010, the National Research Council ranked the department as the nation's leader in faculty research output and eighth overall in research productivity out of 120 U.S. Ph.D. programs.

The department’s faculty strives to use economics and finance to create more well-being while protecting the environment and natural resources.

September 1, 2014 - Wyoming Wind Power Has Nowhere To Go (Here and Now)- Since Wyoming has an abundance of energy, the utility company is looking to sell the wind-generated power to other states. But for now, there is no infrastructure in place to do that. Listen

August 1, 2014 - Income Inequality in Wyoming (Wyoming Signatures) - Wyoming has the highest income equality in the United States. University of Wyoming economist Dr. Robert Godby gives some reasons for this... Watch

Jason Shogren Honored as New AERE Fellow

UW Economics and Finance professor Jason Shogren honored as new AERE fellow

July 21, 2014 — University of Wyoming Professor Jason Shogren has been named a fellow of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (AERE), the nation’s pre-eminent professional society for environmental economists and policy.

Shogren is the Stroock Professor of Natural Resource Conservation and Management in the Department of Economics and Finance in the UW College of Business. He was recognized for outstanding professional contributions and demonstrated leadership in the field of environmental economics, according to an AERE release.

He received a certificate at a recent ceremony at the World Congress of Environmental and Resource Economists in Istanbul, Turkey. Along with its European counterpart, AERE is the world’s largest community of environmental and resource economists.

The AERE Fellow designation has been a significant honor for 10 years. Individuals are nominated by their peers in the association membership. Thomas Crocker, UW emeritus professor of economics, is the other AERE fellow from Wyoming.

The AERE Board evaluates each candidate’s contributions to the advancement of economics and considers published works, the position held with his or her employer, AERE activities, membership and accomplishments in other societies, and other professional activities.

Shogren has published more than 200 articles in the past 20 years, in a broad range of areas relevant to environmental and resource economics. Several of these papers were co-written with former graduate students. He has directed dozens of Ph.D. students during his career.

Additionally, he served as co-editor of Resource and Energy Economics, editor-in-chief of Elsevier's online Encyclopedia of Resource, Energy and Environmental Economics, and was a senior staff economist for the Council of Economic Advisors.

The AERE fellowship is the latest in an impressive string of career accomplishments. Shogren served a year as the “King’s economist” in Sweden (2012 Royal Guest Professor of Sweden's King Carl Gustaf XVI) and was a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was co-recipient of a Nobel Peace prize in 2007.

A UW Ph.D. recipient in 1986 and a faculty member since 1995, Shogren has background and research interests that include risk; experimental methods; endangered species; invasive species; climate change; environmental federalism; contingent valuation; environmental liability; agricultural management; forest management; energy; health; political economy; regulation; international trade; and paleoeconomics.

Jason Shogren

July 15, 2014 - A Canary for Coal Mines (High Country News) - Late last month, a federal judge in Colorado stopped a coal-mining lease expansion from going forward, claiming that the agencies involved had not worked hard enough to account for climate impacts... Read more

July 11, 2014 - School Construction Faces Current Labor Shortage, Future Revenue Decline (Wyoming Public Radio) - It's a tense public meeting in Rawlins. School district officials here recently learned that the latest contractor bid to build a new Rawlins High School is $7 million over budget. Listen

June 2, 2014 - Wyoming politicians blast new EPA coal plant carbon rules (Casper Star Tribune) - A question settled over the country's top coal-producing state Monday: What do the Obama administration's new pollution standards on coal-fired power plants mean for Wyoming? Read more

May 8, 2014 - Robert Godby at Saturday U: Income Inequality and America's Coming Economic Challenges(University of Wyoming) - Robert Godby, Associate Professor of Economics and Finance at University of Wyoming presented his talk on income inequality in American society... Watch

David Finnoff: Everything a UW College Professor Should Be

David Finnoff awarded Ellbogen Meritorious

April 28, 2014 — Creating a learning environment dedicated to the knowledge and growth of students and providing outstanding leadership with fellow faculty members are  just a couple of the reasons Associate Professor David Finnoff has received a top University of Wyoming teaching honor.

The John P. Ellbogen Meritorious Classroom Teaching Award was established in 1977 by businessman John P. “Jack” Ellbogen to “foster, encourage and reward excellence in classroom teaching at UW.” Winners are selected from a list nominated by students, and the awards are based entirely on classroom performance and helpfulness to students.

This year’s other winners are Joe Cooper, assistant professor in the Department of Management and Marketing; and Jeffrey Selden, a lecturer in the Department of Mathematics.

An associate professor in the Department of Economics and Finance, Finnoff is in his 10th year as a UW faculty member.

“His impact on classroom teaching goes beyond just his classes,” wrote Fred Sterbenz, chair of the UW Department of Economics and Finance, in his nomination letter. “He has often visited classes taught by our graduate students and advised them on what they could do better. By spending some time advising a graduate student on what can be done better, he has an effect on many students taking undergraduate economics, even if they do not take his course.”

Former student, Shana McDermott, assistant professor in the Department of Economics at the University of New Mexico, agrees. Finnoff has improved not only the lives of students, but has had a huge influence on the faculty members as well.

“My admiration and gratitude for my professor and mentor, Professor Finnoff, goes beyond words,” says McDermott. “He is a constant pillar of support and guidance for his students. I whole-heartedly believe that he is the strongest candidate for this award, given his dedication to students and enthusiasm for teaching.”

Finnoff received both his doctoral and bachelor’s degrees from UW. He began his teaching career as an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida Department of Economics, transferring back to teach at UW in 2004.

Students who have taken his courses express that Finnoff is everything a college professor should be.

“Dr. Finnoff expects a lot of his students and really pushes them hard,” said one student in an evaluation. “He really knows his stuff. He comes to class every day ready to teach and expects us to learn. He is among the greatest teachers that I have had. The economics department would have a huge hole in it without him.”

Students also noted Finnoff’s willingness to spend time outside the classroom for supplemental instruction, and also the compassion he shared with each student.

“Dr. Finnoff is wonderful. He always has time to help us out during his office hours, which made a difference. He has a personal relationship with all of his students: he knows about us and he cares about us. He loves his subject and this shows as he teaches,” a student wrote. “The only thing that would be better is if we did not all have to present or talk at each stage of our paper. I would rather listen to him teach. I loved his class. He is a wonderful professor.”

One of Finnoff’s colleagues in the department also learned from him because of his teaching style.

“I have received amazing feedback regarding Dave from the many undergraduate and graduate students who have taken his classes,” wrote Associate Professor Rob Godby, “I also have seen this firsthand as I was chair of our department for five years, and was the beneficiary  of the ‘great teaching’ seminars I received while evaluating his classes. These were not reviews so much as learning experiences for me.”

David Finnoff

UW College of Business students present to the State Loan Advisory Board meeting

College of Business students stand with State Loan Advisory Board and Professor Patrick Fleming.

Professor Patrick Fleming and students presented to the State Loan Investment Board on April 10, 2014.  The State Loan Investment Board Members include Governor Matt Mead, Treasurer Mark Gordon, Secretary of State Max Maxfield, State Auditor Cynthia Cloud, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill.

April 10, 2014 - Sierra Club: Leave Wyoming's coal and oil shale in the ground (WyoFile) - A new report lists the Powder River Basin coal formation and the Green River oil shale formations as among the world's largest potential "climate disrupters."  Read more

April 3, 2014 - Oil and Gas is Risky (Branding Iron) - In order to best deal with unknown [oil] prices, [UW Economics Professor Chuck Mason] said oil companies utilize an economic phenomenon known as arbitrage...Read more

April 1, 2014 - Freedom of Movement (Laramie Boomerang) - A University of Wyoming economics professor presented his findings about an interstate electricity transmission line at a stakeholder meeting of the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority. Read more

January 7, 2014 - 'Dismal' economists showing optimism (Wyoming Business Report) - It seems almost a contradiction in terms - optimism in the "dismal science." Read more

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