I am currently a first year PhD student and research assistant at Michigan State University in the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics. My research interests include behavioral economics, value chain preferences, and sustainable production with specific focus on the beer and hops market.
My journey to AgEcon began during my junior year at Westfield State University, where I received my first taste of research experience from Dr. Supriya Sarnikar working with student misperceptions in economic thought. I fell in love with the research process; all of the intricate details, digging through scholarly articles, uncovering information, and putting the pieces together. This led me to a Natural Resource Economics course taught by Dr. Hillary Sackett-Taylor the following spring.
Here, I created a system involving hydraulic fracturing and the impact it has on water complaints in Pennsylvania, the state that has seen the most exponential growth in the industry since the introduction of horizontal drilling. The model represented how an increase in demand for natural gas will require more extraction, and thus more drilling sites. However, what comes with this is the negative externality of wastewater production and water complaints. To mitigate the impact drilling would have on water contamination complaints, a land restriction policy was then implemented into the system. The proposed legislation increased the setback distance of a drilling from a water well and would have prevented drilling in national and state parks. This project led me to pursue an independent study with Hillary for the duration of my senior year and is ultimately what made me decide to pursue graduate school.
After completing my BA in Economics at Westfield State University in May 2018, I moved to West Lafayette, Indiana to attend Purdue University as an MS student and research assistant. Here, I completed my master’s thesis in August 2019 on “Consumer Willingness-to-Pay for Sustainability Attributes in Beer: A Choice Experiment Using Eco-Labels” working with Dr. Carson Reeling. The purpose of this study was to elicit consumer preference for water reduction, energy reduction, and landfill diversion practices in beer. This is the first study to place a dollar value on multiple facets of sustainability. We find that nearly 75% of beer buyers are willing to pay positive price premiums for the sustainability attributes with means ranging from $0.70/six-pack for water and carbon reduction practices to $0.85/six-pack for landfill diversion.
I now work with Dr. Trey Malone, where we have begun to look at brewer preference for locally grown hops, trends in the beer beer industry and its impact on hop production decisions, and determining how climate change reshapes the way we think of comparative advantage in agricultural supply chains. There is still so much more to explore, and I am eager to discover new ideas while growing into a more complete thinker and researcher.