Alumni Profiles

Pengfei Liu, Ph.D. 2016, Assistant Research Professor, University of Connecticut.

Pengfei completed his final semester as a Ph.D. student within ARE department, and his research received a lot of attention from the agricultural and resource economics academic community. He started this semester still at UConn, but in a different capacity: as a member of the UConn ARE faculty.

Over the summer 2016, Pengfei was appointed to the post of Assistant Research Professor, allowing him to keep working with Prof. Stephen Swallow and the rest of the ARE faculty on topics including public good provision and other issues in behavioral and resource economics.  
While a student, Pengfei won the 2016 Graduate Student Research and Creativity Award from the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, and co-authored the recipient of the Best Poster Award at the 2016 European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists annual conference. 

Adam N Rabinowitz, Ph.D. 2014, Assistant Professor, University of Georgia. 

Adam received Bachelor’s and Master's of Economics from University of Nevada at Las Vegas before deciding to continue into a more applied field. During his graduate studies Adam published several papers regarding food marketing, food security and access, health and nutrition, antitrust, and public policy. Following his graduation from UConn, he became Assistant Research Professor at Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Zwick Center for Food and Resource Policy at UConn.

Adam joined to Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics at the University of Georgia in 2016, where he is working as Assistant Professor.

Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Ph.D. 2013, Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Kansas.

Tsvetan began as a Bachelor's and Master's student of general Economics from Vassar College and Columbia Universities, respectively, before making the decision to continue into a more applied field. He says "One of my advisors recommended agricultural and resource economics, which immediately attracted my interest. I applied to UConn, as it has one of the top ARE programs in the country." Following his graduation from UConn, he became a Postdoctoral Associate for the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Tsvetan currently teaches an undergraduate Energy Economics course at the University of Kansas, where he is also working on a number of research projects he explains as "related to renewable energy adoption, residential energy efficiency upgrades, and climate change adaptation." He says, "I am affiliated with the Institute for Policy and Social Research at the University of Kansas, which provides me with an opportunity to conduct more interdisciplinary research."

Alessandro Bonanno, Ph.D. 2007, Associate Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Colorado State University.

ARE Ph.D. alumni, Alessandro Bonanno, was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure at Colorado State University where he has been from 2015-present. Prior, he held assistant professor positions at Penn State from 2008-2012 and at Wageningen University in the Netherlands from 2013-2015. His areas of expertise include economics of food and health, applied industrial organization and food marking economics of food retailing. Bonanno won the Outstanding Article in the Choices Magazine in 2012 and in 2014 in the European Review of Agricultural Economics.


 JunJie Wu, Ph.D. 1992. Emery N. Castle Professor of Resource and Rural Economics at Oregon State University.

JunJie Wu was named a 2016 Fellow of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association - the AAEA's most prestigious honor. According to the AAEA, Wu "has made seminal contributions to the design of agro-environmental policy, spatial modeling of land use change and its economic and environmental impacts, and nature human interactions in the evolution of rural and urban development." Dr. Wu is currently a professor and the Emery N. Castle Chair in Rural and Resource Economics at Oregon State University. He is also the editor of the American Journal of Agricultural Economics.



Facing the challenge of returning to college after a 5 year career as an X-Ray Technician and the birth of her children, Ellen Shea knew that she wanted something different. She began coursework at Manchester Community College and found that she excelled in economics. "I love economics, but I wanted to do something that I believed in," she said. "I really take to heart what I do and Resource Economics combines economics with the management of natural resources - something I care about." After reentering college with coursework at MCC, she found that UConn and the Resource Economics Department provided the individual attention to assist a returning student, and transferred to Storrs.

While pursuing her undergraduate degree, Ellen became interested in combining the Resource Economics program with courses in the sciences. "I took every science I could," she says, "from meteorology to geology to G.I.S. It is a benefit to understand the sciences in combination with the ARE degree. It really adds to your value as an employee."

And, while her initial goal was to finish her coursework with a Bachelor of Science in Resource Economics, Ellen, under the guidance of former Resource Economics Department Head and Professor Emeritus Emilio Pagoulatos, decided to study for a Master's Degree. "I'm not a mathematician," she says "but I realized I was capable and had a lot of strength in analyzing data rather than developing it. Emilio saw a value in that skill set and guided me to get the Master's."

After graduation, Ellen began her career at The Hartford working in Environmental Claims. "I provided investigation and cost/benefit analysis for large environmentally based claims," she said. "And I knew that I wanted to diversify what I was doing. I took a chance and used my degree to carve out a position for myself working in catastrophe management."

Now working as Coordinator for Catastrophe Management at The Hartford, Ellen is responsible for the planning and coordination in handling catastrophes in which the Hartford has insured properties or structures. She helps to determine how the company will respond to an emergency and aids in seeking out the infrastructures that allow the company's "Catastrophe Troopers" to get on the ground to assess damages and aid customers.

Because of her unique background, Ellen is able to use varying aspects of what she learned in the Resource Economics program. "When a catastrophe occurs, I use risk analysis tools such as G.I.S.mapping and satellite technology to pinpoint damaged areas," she said. "During Hurricane Katrina, I used technology tools to estimate wind speeds, and then used economic principles to calculate potential damages."

The devastation of Hurricane Katrina or the massive destruction of the recent California wildfires are examples of the large catastrophes that The Hartford must face. "No matter what the situation, getting to people proactively, contacting the insured and getting displaced people on their feet are our biggest priorities in a catastrophe," she said. "You can never predict what is going to happen or when."

The nonstop, 24 hour a day aspect of her work during a catastrophe makes her position demanding, but Ellen thrives on helping others and finding solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems.

She credits what she does to the support and education she had in the Resource Economics Department. "Because the program is small, the professors see what your strengths are and help you to succeed. It's amazing the amount of support. They don't let you fall through the cracks. Everyone I learned from was incredible."

Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics
University of Connecticut
1376 Storrs Road, Unit 4021
W.B. Young Building
Storrs, Connecticut 06269-4021

Phone: (860) 486-2836
Fax: (860) 486-1932

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