AREC Celebrates Graduate Student Scholarship at 2018 Awards and Holidays Luncheon

December 19, 2018

The Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics (AREC) hosted its annual Graduate Awards and Holiday luncheon on Dec. 4, 2018, to present six esteemed graduate students with awards and scholarships.

In addition, donors were honored for their generous contributions that fund the awards each year. Without these individuals, the awards that honor graduate student for their extensive research would not be possible.

Lauren Beatty won the Rhona Lantin Award for best paper by a first-year student, titled Consumer Valuation of Fuel Economy: Evidence from a California Survey. Beatty’s research highlights the strength of individual preferences in repeated choices by exploring people’s decision-making process for buying a vehicle. She found that in practice, her research suggests that households who own fuel-efficient vehicles, on average, will continue to buy other fuel-efficient vehicles rather than substituting away from fuel efficiency for size or power.

“I feel incredibly honored to be given this award,” Beatty said. “I also feel incredibly privileged to be in this program, where I have access to many wonderful faculty members and fellow grad students who have helped me along the way.”

Beatty is especially thankful for her advisor, Professor Anna Alberini, who supported her throughout the research process, as well as Professor Jim Archsmith, whose paper inspired Beatty’s work.

The Bessie H. DeVault Award, which acknowledges the best paper written by a second-year student, was awarded to Haoluan Wang. His paper, Land Conservation for Open Space: Spatial Spillovers and the Impact of Neighbors, investigates spatial spillovers and the impact of neighbors on private landowners’ conservation decisions for open space in Maryland. His results show that there is a positive impact of neighbors on the likelihood of private landowners’ conservation decisions.

“It is absolutely my honor to get recognized by the department and receive this award,” Wang said. “Maryland is a national leader in land conservation and I am really glad that I ended up landing at UMD to conduct this type of research.”

Graduate student Jose Eguiguren was also recognized and awarded the John R. and Marjorie C. Moore Award for best effort to publish a paper in an academic journal. His paper, Responsiveness to Low-Income Households to Hybrid Price/Non-Price Policies in the Presence of Energy Shortages: Evidence from Colombia, evaluates how low-income households in a majority Colombian city respond to a government energy-saving policy.

“Using hourly household electricity consumption data I found that, on average, households reduce electricity consumption by 4.5 percent as a result of the policy,” Eguiguren explained. “It is striking that even low-income households, who consume relatively small amounts of electricity, respond to energy-saving policies and engage in conversation behaviors in the short term.”

Uttara Balakrishnan, who graduated in May of 2017, was awarded the Dr. and Mrs. Bill V. Lesley Award for best Ph.D. dissertation. Balakrishnan now serves as a research economist at IMPAQ International located in Washington D.C.

The final two acknowledgments recognized graduate students Tianqi Gan and Julian Gomez Gelvez. Gan was honored the Bruce and Mary Ann Gardner Dissertation Enhancement Award, which provided her with funds to significantly increase the quality of her dissertation, as well as her chances of obtaining outside funding for research. Gan’s dissertation focuses on parental education investment decisions, specifically relating to adjustments parents make in their education investment on a child when there is some indication of the child’s academic ability. Gan is currently collecting data to test her predictions and find more conclusive results.

“I am very honored and I really appreciate the donors, the department and all of the people who have helped me with this paper,” Gan said of receiving the award.

Lastly, Gomez Gelvez received the Dr. Bruce L. Gardner Memorial Scholarship awarded to graduate students in an effort to assist in research costs. His research focuses on whether private ownership of congestible resources such as roads, fisheries and recreational parks, can lead to efficient levels of use. For Gomez Gelvez, this award is more than encouraging.

“I think the main effect of all the scholarships and awards are that they encourage Ph.D. students to keep advancing their research,” Gomez Gelvez said. “The main difficulty of the Ph.D. journey is to maintain the motivation to keep advancing every day. This scholarship motivates me and eases the financial burden of being dedicated to research full time.”

AREC would like to congratulate all of the honored graduate students, as well as thank our kind-hearted donors.

If you are interested in contributing to AREC's scholarship funds or other department advancement funds, please visit, or contact Ms. Natalie Moulding if you have questions.