E-CONnect Fall 2023

University of Waterloo Economics Department Newsletter

A message from the Chair

Welcome to our 2023 newsletter, our annual opportunity to reconnect.

This fall starts our second academic year in which we are fully back on campus. Our first event was a townhall meeting for our undergraduate students. This was one of the suggestions from our engaged alumni last winter. We hope this initiative will bridge the information divide, answer questions proactively, and illuminate pathways to a great career for economics students. It was a great pleasure to meet with our students, and I am sure that more dialogue must be better and an opportunity for everyone to learn something.

A big THANK YOU to our incredible alumni. They graciously shared their time with us last winter to provide insights about their experiences with the program and they help us to create opportunities for engagement and excellence. They not only provide advice to us and our students, but also supported scholarships and bursaries and the Faculty of Arts Distinguished Lecture in Economics. We would be greatly diminished without their continued involvement!

Over the last year the department was again active on the hiring front, with three new faculty members and one new staff member joining the team. There are also two faculty retirements to report. Related to that, I point you to the interview with Margaret Insley, who has been named a Fellow of the Canadian Resource and Environmental Economics Association.

Photo of Lutz

We are always committed to providing rich learning and networking opportunities for our graduate students, and this year has really brought some stellar achievements that I am particularly excited to draw your attention to. Scroll down and enjoy!

It’s such a pleasure to present you with this update. Please reach out anytime -- I look forward to hearing from you!

All the best,

Lutz-Alexander Busch

Remembering Sarah Inam

A year ago, we were saddened to hear that a gifted young economist Sarah Inam (BA ’05, MA ’07) had been taken from our UW alumni family too soon. Sarah made quite an impression on us while she worked on her studies. We were delighted to hear that she was using her talents as an economist by contributing in meaningful ways to international development and public policy issues abroad.

Sarah’s family and friends have established in her name, the Sarah Inam Memorial Award. These generous donations will support the next generation of economists to learn and excel and go on to make the world a better place in the way Sarah had. 

To add to the award with your generous gift, please donate to the Sarah Inam Memorial Fund.

Sara Inam

(photo source Dr. Maryyum Mehmood, @marymood)

Waterloo Arts Distinguished Lecture in Economics

Yale University’s Dr. Rohini Pande  gave the 2023 Waterloo Arts Distinguished Lecture recently. Her paper, entitled “Inequality, externalities, and climate,” emphasized the amplification inherent in the relationship between climate and economic inequality, and provided insights about intelligent ways to respond to air pollution externalities.

Dr. Pande’s research makes a strong case for the importance of institutional mechanisms, both formal and informal, in empowering people in poor and disadvantaged communities within developing countries. She is director of the Economic Growth Center and director of Inclusion Economics, both at Yale University.

This year’s Distinguished Lecture was made possible by the sponsorship of Bloom Burton & Company. You can view the talk when it becomes available here.

Last Fall 2022’s Distinguished Lecture by Paul Beaudry, entitled “Pandemic macroeconomics: What we’ve learned, and what may lie ahead” is available to view hereAn archive of all past Faculty of Arts Distinguished Lectures may be found by clicking here and scrolling down.

Rohini Pande

Credit: Dan Renzetti

Economics Alumni Roundtables

The insights and feedback of alumni provide vital information that we use to shape and expand the student experience in the department. Last March two virtual alumni roundtables welcomed Seema Bakthula (BA ’10), Kevin Dickinson (BA ’04), Shaharyar Khan (MA ’05, BA ’04), David Li (BA ’14), Jay Lin (BA ’10), Tulu Makonnen (MA ’06, BA ’05), Paulina Morgan (BA ’18), Connie van der Byl (BA ’91), Ryan Weaver (BA ’03), and Rosalie Wyonch (MA ’16, BA ’14).

We learned a lot from these conversations. One tangible practical impact is this fall’s start of term open meeting with undergrad students. This informal townhall event hosted by Dr. Packalen provided a forum for information exchange and real time feedback, as well as a chance for undergraduates to meet and talk with academic advisors Zoe Clemens and Brittany Woodhall. We hope to continue these open meetings as a way to foster accessible and useful information for students navigating the myriad opportunities available to them with an undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Waterloo.

More alumni roundtables are planned for this year. If you are interested in sharing your insights with us, we’d be so grateful to hear from you. Please contact Phoebe Wong -- and thank you!

Update from the UW Economics Society 

Here at the UW Economics Society, our goal is to create unique opportunities for students to engage with like-minded peers. Our society is dedicated to fostering an educational, fun, and inclusive environment for all those involved. We do this by regularly hosting events, engaging students through our social media channels, and releasing original content (and contests!) on our web site.

Throughout the past year, our society has placed greater importance on in-person activities. We have brought in guest speakers, hosted exciting events such as Debate and Trivia nights, and continued our close collaboration with the Economics Department to host events, which last year included our 'Declare Your Major' Panel for early-year Econ students.

It is a priority to create a space for Economics students who were impacted by the pandemic. With classes and activities being virtual for so long, the fun, collaborative, social aspect of university suffered. To address that absence, we chose to host at least one large-scale event per term. Students could also drop in to our weekly study lounge, a place to study and learn from upper-year economics students and a space to interact, mingle, and form connections that can last far beyond university.

In addition to our regular newsletters and bi-weekly original articles, the Economics Society researches and creates content for the website, including student features and economist spotlights. Last year, the research team even entered a case study for a collaborative case competition we held with Laurier and Western students.

In the coming year, we are looking forward to continuing to host fantastic events and opportunities for economics students, while providing unique insight, education and leadership opportunities through all the branches of our wonderful Executive team.

To stay up-to-date with our team, any upcoming events, and new content, follow us @uweconsociety on Instagram and check out our society's website. We look forward to seeing you this year on campus and at our events!

As always, if you have any questions, concerns, feedback, or ideas, please bring them up to us. You can email us at uw.economics.society@gmail.com.


Tim Khaperski and Parn Narang
Co-Presidents of University of Waterloo Economics Society (UWES)

A conversation with Margaret Insley

This past spring, E-CONnect sat down with Dr. Insley to ask her about her upcoming retirement from the University of Waterloo, which commenced at the end of August 2023. She told us how curiosity has informed her research since before even starting grad school. “In those days I was pondering what to do in the face of a possible disaster of unknown size, striking at some unknown future time. I was thinking about environmental pollution in particular, a topic that had interested me in high school and during my days as an energy economist in the oil patch in Calgary.” This curiosity has resulted in numerous scholarly contributions to knowledge in the area of decision making under risk and uncertainty.

Dr. Insley joined the Economics Department in 2002 and served as graduate chair before serving two terms as department chair. “People may not realize that being a professor is a very busy job!” Despite this administrative service, she met her intention to maintain her research program and her graduate supervision. Now as a professor emerita and an adjunct professor in the department, she will have “a bit more flexibility” to say yes to graduate students who want to work with her in energy and resource economics, and to research issues that really resonate.

Dr. Insley finds it very satisfying to work with PhD students. “You know, I benefited from excellent supervision as a masters student at the University of Alberta and as a PhD student at the University of Guelph. I draw on that whenever I’m working with a graduate student.”

As someone with considerable experience in fostering a person’s intellectual capabilities and seeing a graduate student’s project through to completion, her advice to graduate students is to be sure to choose a thesis topic you personally find very interesting, because you will be living and breathing that topic for years to come. "Find a thesis supervisor whom you will enjoy working with and whose research papers grab your attention.”

For undergraduate students, Dr. Insley recommends that they “try a broad array of courses to get exposure to the questions, assumptions, and perspectives of different disciplines.  Don’t be afraid to switch majors if you find something that better suits your interests and abilities, even if it means you may need to take a bit longer to finish your degree” because an undergraduate degree is foundational. She also stresses the importance of in-person interactions with others.  “Join a club, get involved…  There is no substitute for face-to-face communication,” and a lot lost in virtual communications.

Dr. Insley says that a university career is “a privilege. I really love the university environment, where you can have different approaches and informed beliefs about issues, and arguments are evidence-based.” Thank you for your contributions – and for keeping a tie to the department!

Dr. Insley with graduand Xinyuan Yang and his mother Shuyun Liu

Dr. Insley with graduand Xinyuan Yang and his mother Shuyun Liu at convocation (photo credit: Brittany Woodhall.

Congratulations to our Scholarship Recipients: We’re proud of UW Econ!

The Kenneth Stollery Memorial Graduate Award

An award was made this year to a student in our graduate program, in recognition of their academic excellence, from funds donated to honour the memory of professor Ken Stollery, a long time professor of the department of economics who passed away in 2005.

The Nihar and Mina Bose Graduate Scholarship in Economics 

In 2018, the generous funding of Professor Sukesh Ghosh and Mrs. Nandita Ghosh established this scholarship in honour of Professor Ghosh’s late uncle and aunt, Nihar and Mina Bose. This year’s graduate recipient demonstrated academic achievement and financial need.

The Jacqueline Armstrong Gates Scholarship in Economics

With gratitude to the generous support of Jacqueline Armstrong Gates, this year marks the third time a deserving in-course economics student received this award, which recognizes superior academic excellence over the candidate’s academic career.

The Alan Uffelmann Award in Economics

This year, thanks to a generous legacy gift given by Alan Uffelmann (BA ’86 – Economics), the Department of Economics was able to provide one high achieving undergraduate student in our program with financial support.

Congratulations to our top students in the class of 2023!

Undergraduate Awards

At convocation, thoughts turn to all of the outstanding economics graduands in the Class of 2023 who have worked so hard on their intellectual goals to achieve their degrees. Here are the undergraduates whose performance in the program earned special mention this past spring.

Departmental Award for Distinguished Academic Achievement (Arts)

The Faculty of Arts asks every department to identify a recipient from the graduating class whose academic performance sets them apart. For the class of 2023, that individual is Nick Xie (Bachelor of Arts, Honours Mathematical Economics).

Mathematical Economics Award

The Department of Economics recognizes outstanding academic achievement in the Honours Mathematical Economics major. For the class of 2023, two people were selected to receive this award: Gavin Fu (Bachelor of Arts, Honours Mathematical Economics) and Xinyi Wang (Bachelor of Arts, Honours Mathematical Economics).

Honours Economics Award

The Department of Economics also recognizes outstanding academic achievement in the Honours Economics major For the class of 2023, two people were selected to receive this award: Judy Lee (Bachelor of Arts, Honours Economics) and Terry Wang (Bachelor of Arts, Honours Economics).

Senior Honours Essay Award

The Senior Honours Essay is a capstone experiential course in which students devise, carry out and report on their primary research under the supervision of a faculty member. This year, we honour Geetika Luchun (Bachelor of Mathematics, Mathematical Economics) for an outstanding essay entitled “Forecasting US Inflation Using an Explainable Machine Learning Model.”

Graduate Awards

What exceptional Masters and Doctoral students we have! We celebrated with them this spring at the 2022-2023 Graduate Awards Ceremony, held again at the Grad House. Here are some of our students’ outstanding achievements this year, and congratulations to all the winners!

Achievement in Graduate Microeconomic Theory (taught by Dr. Curry) 

Matthew Azevedo

Matthew Azevedo with Professor Curry

(Photo credit: Maureen Stafford)

Achievement in Graduate Macroeconomic Theory (taught by Dr. Stacey)

Ayaka Behro

Ayako Behro with Professor Stacey

(Photo credit: Maureen Stafford)

Achievement in Graduate Econometrics (taught by Dr. Chaussé)

Ayaka Behro

Ayako Behro with Professor  Chausee

(Photo credit: Maureen Stafford)

Achievement in Graduate Research Methodology (taught by Dr. Ferrer) 

Natasha Kozak

Congratulations to our phenomenal students

Two ECONOMICS Doctoral degrees were earned at convocation last June 15th: one by Xinyuan Yang, supervised by Margaret Insley, and the other by Yixuan Li, supervised by Tao Chen. Xinyuan is still deciding what he would like to do for his future. Yixuan has accepted a position as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology, Economics and Political Science at MacEwan University. We wish our new colleagues all the best as they move into their economics careers.

We had nine ECONOMICS Masters of Arts degrees and sixteen ECONOMICS Masters of Economics Co-op degrees conferred in this past June’s convocation.

Students and a professor at convocation

Yajun Mao, Fatima Rizvi, Natasha Kozak and Elijah Farley represent our Master’s graduating class, pictured here with Dr. Stacey just after convocation. (Photo credit: Maureen Stafford)

More to share about the department!

This past year saw two retirements: Emanuel Carvalho and Margaret Insley. The department has hired three people to join the faculty: Anqi Li, Rob McLean and Clemens Possnig. Dr. Li works with models of information acquisition and rational inattention to study issues like polarized media consumption, electoral accountability and workplace discrimination. Rob McLean’s expertise is in entrepreneurship, marketing and business skills. Dr. Possnig studies emerging policy questions arising from the increased availability and use of learning algorithms to look at, for example, firm-level collusion. 

We wish our colleague Lynn Skelly the very best as she has accepted a new position as an Academic Advisor in the Arts Undergraduate Office. We are pleased that Zoe Clemens has joined us to support administrative and undergraduate advising activities in the department – welcome, Zoe!

Our Graduate Students presenting their work in progress

It is an honour to acknowledge the generosity of alumni who have contributed to support graduate students presenting their work in progress at scholarly conferences. If you would like to contribute, please contact Lutz Busch. Thank you in advance for making this important experience accessible to young scholars.

Iuliia Nesterova was one of some 400 young economists, only ten of whom representing Canada, who were selected to participate in the 7th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences, “a unique opportunity to educate, inspire and connect” which this time included Joshua Angrist and 17 other Nobel Laureates in Economic Sciences. Iuliia is a doctoral candidate working under the supervision of Dr. Francisco Gonzales. Her interview with Dr. Angrist is here.

John Baker presented at the 4th Non-Traditional Data in Macroeconomics central banking conference at the Riksbank in Stockholm, Sweden, last fall 2022. The paper, "Assessing the credibility of central bank signals: The case of transitory inflation," co-authored with Dr. JP Lam, was published in Economics Letters around the same time. It is the second chapter of John’s thesis.

Khusro Mir presented his paper “Comparing alternative decision-making paradigms to explain moral hazards in payments for ecosystem services,” a paper which is joint work with Dr. Alain-Désiré Nimubona and Dr. Roy Brouwer, at the Canadian Resource and Environmental Economics Association meetings in October 2022.

Two of our graduate students got papers accepted for presentation at the Canadian Economics Association meetings in Winnipeg. Sudipto Ghosh presented his paper “Modeling ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ Volatilities under a Threshold Realized Semivariance GARCH,” coauthored with his supervisor Dr. Dinghai Xu. Xinyuan Yang presented “Uncertainty and Optimal Fertilizer Application Decisions in the Presence of Environmental Damages from Leaching and Denitrification,” coauthored with his supervisor Dr. Margaret Insley.

Photo of student and supervisor

Xinyuan Yang and his supervisor Dr. Margaret Insley at the Canadian Economics Association meetings last June in Winnipeg. (Photo credit: Barb Bloemhof)

A special message from Graduate Administrative Coordinator Maureen Stafford: It was so nice to meet all of our grad students over the past year. It is lovely to be back in person and actually talk to our students in real life. Our student events, Cue up the Term and the Graduate Awards Celebration, were a lot of fun and well attended. Thank you to everyone for making it such a memorable year!

Want to Connect?

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    The seminar webpage shows all upcoming and past visiting speakers. Everyone is welcome to attend our seminars – please email for details of how to join our virtual seminars.
  • Have exciting news to share? We’d love to hear what you are up to!
  • Interested in giving a talk? We also love welcoming our alumnae/i to our classes! (And with remote learning, it’s simple!)
  • Want to be involved in networking or economic events? Please just ask!
  • Want to contribute to our activities? Your donations help fund awards and lectures that make a difference. Please consider reaching out to support us – and thank you!

To connect, please email Lutz-Alexander Busch or Phoebe Wong (senior alumni engagement officer). To support us with a gift, please contact Kim Bardwell or donate online.

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