AAE department nets three AAEA awards for faculty outreach, student research


Agricultural and Applied Economics faculty Brian Gould and Mark Stephenson were recognized for the Distinguished Extension/Outreach Program from the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA) this year.  AAE’s students took home two other awards from the association; best master’s thesis and outstanding dissertation honorable mention went to AAE students Andrew Mollica and Patricia Yañez-Pagans.


This is the third time Brian Gould’s outreach work has earned the AAEA extension award, this year in his collaboration with Stephenson, Marin Bozic (PhD. ’11) and Chris Wolf (BS ’91) on the multi-state collaborative Dairy Markets and Policy program. “DMAP members in AAE have made great efforts to educate the Wisconsin dairy farming and policy community on the implications of the new U.S. dairy policy framework” (in the 2014 Farm Bill), says department chair Ian Coxhead. The team’s national impact is seen in its USDA Farm Services Agency grant to train extension, government and policy professionals, as well as dairy manufacturers, all over the U.S. Their producer decision tool is the only comprehensive system to assess margin volatility so common in today’s U.S. dairy industry. “This work continues a long tradition of AAE leadership in dairy extension programming to the state and the nation,” Coxhead notes. Collaborating universities include Cornell, Illinois, Michigan State (Wolf), Minnesota (Bozic), Ohio State, and Penn State.

In his thesis, Economic Growth and Income Inequality on American Indian Reservations, Mollica found that tight cultural ties within communities are associated with greater income equality. “Andrew’s research should have practical significance for federal policies toward American Indian reservations,” says his advisor Nick Parker. The more recent data show that higher equality may be due to greater self-governance and larger budgets, thanks to new casinos. “This hints at another potential benefit of self-determination policies that I don’t think has been previously highlighted in the literature,” adds Parker. Mollica is currently working at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Yañez-Pagans’ dissertation “is on the cutting edge of behavioral economics,” says Jennifer Alix-Garcia, her advisor. She analyzes cash incentives to limit deforestation on communal lands in Mexico that will have large policy implications for similar programs elsewhere. Patricia also compares the environmental and poverty alleviation impacts of Mexico’s forest program. A third paper studies the impact of women’s municipal political participation in her native Bolivia, finding that women choose to invest more heavily in social and educational spending. “Patricia’s work is innovative and important, and her execution is elegant and meticulous,” says Alix-Garcia. Yanez-Pagans chose from a number of job offers to take a position at the Inter-American Development Bank.