It’s not everyday that students have the opportunity to present research at a professional conference, but, on October 26 and 27, that’s exactly what students from UW-Eau Claire had the opportunity to do. Dr. Eric Jamelske and Dr. Thomas Kemp from the Economics department had the opportunity to bring 28 students to the Wisconsin Economics Association’s (WEA) Annual Conference in Steven’s Point where they were able to present on the different research they have been working on.
According to Dr. Jameleske, the WEA conference focuses on providing a space for undergraduate collaborative researchers to present. He goes on to say:
"This event is perfect for UW-Eau Claire students because we also have a strong emphasis and dedication to student/faculty collaborative research. It is a great opportunity for our students to network with professional economists and there are also usually several graduate students from Madison and Milwaukee that our undergraduates can interact with and learn from."
Students who attended had the opportunity to discuss their research with professional economists as well as other students. “The WEA conference allowed me to experience interaction and the exchange of ideas with experts in the field of economics,” economics student, Clayton Cavanaugh, summed up, “I learned so much, not only from presenting and hearing questions, but also from the diverse focuses and insights from the assorted speakers.”
The students had the opportunity to learn how to present their material and see that the research they were doing has a larger impact than they might have initially thought. One student, Nathan Goodell, had the opportunity to present his research on Integrating Applied Field Work into the Undergraduate Economics Curriculum alongside his team members Megan Roehl & Brady Seidlitz. Goodell had the following to say about his experience:
"It is easy to believe that there are those who do 'real' research and that it is only undertaken by a small number of experts. Once I sat in on the first presentation, I quickly realized that even as undergraduate students, we are doing the coveted 'real' research. Seeing undergraduate, graduate, and post graduate research all in the same day, showed that 'real' economics are studied in this area across many different topics by many different people. Just as importantly, us undergraduate economists were able to experience what it's like to present economic research to a group of economists. The whole experience provides exposure to the process of presenting economic research while also giving helpful feedback on how to conduct future research in a productive manner."
The WEA conference provided a space for both economics students and students from other disciplines to learn and grow. Shangqian Wu, an actuarial science major, attended and found the experience to be beneficial. “Although I’m majoring in actuarial science, this does not stop me from learning and doing research in economics,” he says, “It was a great and fruitful experience to me as I was able to gain the depth of economic knowledge through working on our research project and presenting at the WEA.”
In the end, Dr. Jamelske noted: “Overall, the WEA conference is a truly amazing experience for everyone involved and in particular it is great for UWEC students. It is truly rewarding as a professor and research mentor to see the quality of research presentations that UWEC students give compared to students from other institutions which is a credit to the resources and support that our university dedicates to student research opportunities provided through the Blugold Commitment, Differential Tuition and Office of research and Sponsored Programs.”