The Economics Department

Two Economic Graduate Student to Receive NSF Fellowships

Tue, August 22, 2006

Two Economics Students Receive NSF Fellowships

Tess Stafford and RJ Briggs have just won prestigious fellowships from the National Science Foundation’s interdisciplinary IGERT program to study “indoor environmental quality.” The issue is important, because the average American now spends almost 23 out of every 24 hours indoors, where concentrations of harmful substances and exposure may exceed the levels outside. These two economics grad students will each receive $30,000 per year for the next two years to work on dissertation research. Each will take some courses in environmental engineering and work with other graduate students from engineering, architecture, and other disciplines. These interdisciplinary teams will address topics such as naturally occurring radon in buildings, the effects of building design and materials on mold growth, or the second-hand health effects of smoking indoors. All of these pollutants can affect worker productivity in the workplace, and they can affect house prices of homeowners. Each can be addressed by a variety of policies that have different economic effects as well has having different engineering characteristics and effectiveness.

RJ Briggs majored in math and economics at U.C. Davis, and then worked for the RAND Corporation in Washington DC for two years before starting the PhD program in economics at UT. Now starting his fourth year, he has completed fields in public finance and in environmental and natural resource economics. He has completed one research paper on controlling pollution from mining operations, and now plans to work on the effects of information on the public choice to ban smoking indoors.

Tess Stafford majored in economics at Vassar College, learned Italian, and played for their championship soccer team. She then worked as a paralegal for two years before coming to UT. Now starting her third year, she has also completed fields in public finance and in environmental and natural resource economics. Some of her research in natural resources has concerned lobster fisheries, but she plans now to work on information asymmetries between employers and employees regarding indoor workplace contaminants.

Successful grant authored by: Professor Don Fullerton and colleaques in the College of Engineering.


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