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Economics Dept. Holds First UMass System Economics Conference

A group of participants who attended the conference.
Conference participants made new connections and expanded their networks on research.

By Eric Si

The UMass Lowell Economics Department recently hosted the first UMass System Economics Conference at the UML Inn and Conference Center. 

Department Chair Monica Galizzi welcomed more than 30 faculty and students from all the sister campuses during opening remarks: “I have had the idea of organizing this first ever conference for a long time because I think it is important to showcase the rich research that is conducted by economists in the UMass system and because I think it is crucial to foster research collaboration. Thanks to the very supportive faculty of the UMass Lowell economics department, this project is finally happening today.”

“What a great opportunity for us to make connections between our research and to get to know our colleagues that we otherwise would not have the chance to meet,” said Sarah Cosgrove, economics chair at UMass Dartmouth.

Presenters shared their work, among other topics, in pedagogy of economics teaching, access to healthcare, climate change effects, reducing opioid mortality, and financial markets. Though research varied among individuals, faculty members were able to find common ground between their specializations.

Asst. Prof. Anne Fitzpatrick from UMass Boston said, “There’s great research happening at each of the campuses on a wide variety of topics. Any conference is a great opportunity to get feedback. We’re hoping to increase collaboration with other campuses moving forward by meeting people who are studying similar topics, who are right down the road, and perhaps facilitating a future project.”

Fitzpatrick was delighted to meet her colleague, Asst. Prof. Debi Prasad Mohapatra from UMass Amherst because it turns out they are focused on a similar research topic on antimalarial drug pricing.

Fitzpatrick and Mohapatra were not alone in finding links between efforts. Other conference attendees were also able to expand their networks and establish partnerships for future projects. During his midday remarks, Dean Luis Falcon of the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences expressed his enthusiasm to see the outcomes of these new relationships.

“The quality of the papers that we selected for presentation today is a proof of the high-quality research conducted in our public universities,” said Asst. Prof. Brendan Epstein at UMass Lowell and one of the main organizers of the conference.

After the success of this first conference, economics faculty in the UMass system hope to meet annually to continue their productive, lively discussions. Because of the success of their meeting, they encourage other departments to adopt a similar approach for facilitated collaborations.