Combo of News + Announcements

Visiting Speakers, Spring 2019

The Regional Research Institute is delighted to announce its Spring 2019 visiting speaker lineup. This lineup is so outstanding that we wanted to give you plenty of advance notice to mark your calendars accordingly!

Our four speakers, in order of their visits, are Eveline S. Van Leeuwen, David Audretsch, Sergio Rey and Christa (Jensen) Court.

In addition to their seminars, we will be planning additional opportunities for faculty and students to meet and interact with our speakers.
Eveline S. van Leeuwen

Thursday, March 7, 2019, 325 Brooks Hall, 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Eveline S. Van Leeuwen, Professor in Spatial Economics and Chair of Urban Economics, Wageningen University, Netherlands

Urban-Rural Interactions: more important than ever

Dr. Van Leeuwen developed a novel approach to creating models that study actions and interactions of autonomous individual and collective agents. She did this by linking agent-based modelling and microsimulation with macro approaches; using this method, one can model individual behaviors and then simulate these behaviors on a macro level. She wrote about this new approach in a paper titled “The effects of future retail developments on the local economy; combining micro and macro approaches,” which earned her the prestigious Epainos award for best paper by a young researcher. Additionally, she developed an approach to extend and customize GIS tools and made them more robust by linking them to spatial microsimulation. This enabled her to translate a traditional economic model into an agent-based equivalent.

She was awarded the Moss Madden Medal by the British and Irish section of regional science and was awarded the Early Career Award at the British and Irish section of the Regional Science Association International conference.This year, she presented the Regional Science Policy and Practice Keynote Lecture at the European Regional Science Association meeting.

She has numerous areas of expertise, including sustainability, environmental impact assessment, sustainable development, spatial analysis, environmental management, and survey methodology and data analysis. Currently, Eveline and her team are examining how the spatial environment influences social processes by assessing personal, community and social network attributes and determining which ones influence participation choices.

At the regional level, she is examining opportunities for regional food systems and the preferences of urban consumers so that local policymakers will have the information they need to make the best decision. She is also examining economic and social interactions between places at the regional level and the urban level and seeing how these interactions impact wellbeing, economic activities, and participation. She aspires to develop interdisciplinary theories and modelling approaches to provide a holistic, integrated view of local communities and to illustrate how economic and social networks impact their vitality.

She has more than 115 publications and has been cited more than 500 times.

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Urban-Rural Interactions: more important than ever

Abstract: Urban-Rural Interactions: more important than ever
In order to achieve sustainable goals, such as energy transition and climate adaptations, collaboration between urban and rural areas is essential. No city is an island and that is why it is good to look beyond the city to the surrounding area: How can they benefit each other? In order to realise climate objectives, achieve energy transition, and reach the new goals for circular agriculture, the city and the countryside definitely need each other. As such Urban-Rural Interactions are more important than ever. However, many policy makers and academics – such as economists, and influencers – live in cities and their image of rural areas is often biased and incomplete. It makes sense that the economic focus is on cities as they have high levels of activity, but the relationship between the environment, nutrient cycles, water cycles, etc. are lacking. For this reason, awareness of the position and relationship between the urban and rural areas needs to be raised. In a balanced relationship, rural environments and cities will benefit from each other. However, in order to ensure this, a more fundamental understanding of the nature and value of urban and rural areas, as well as their residents, is essential. In this lecture, Eveline van Leeuwen will focus on subjective and objective differences between urban and rural areas both in terms of places as well as in terms of people. She will use economic data on EU regions, as well as on EU citizens and their preferences to highlight important and sometimes unexpected differences.

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David B. Audretsch

March 28, 2019, 325 Brooks Hall, 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Dr. David B. Audretsch, Distinguished Professor, Ameritech Chair of Economic Development

Entrepreneurship and Regional Policy: The Role of Culture

“Entrepreneurship and Regional Policy: The Role of Culture”

Dr. David Audretsch is a Distinguished Professor and the Ameritech Chair of Economic Development at Indiana University, where he also serves as Director of the Institute for Development Strategies. He is an Honorary Professor of Industrial Economics and Entrepreneurship at the WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management in Germany and a Research Fellow of the Centre for Economic Policy Research in London.

Audretsch’s research has focused on the links between entrepreneurship, government policy, innovation, economic development, and global competitiveness. He is co-author of The Seven Secrets of Germany, published by Oxford University Press. He is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Small Business Economics: An Entrepreneurship Journal. He was awarded the Global Award for Entrepreneurship Research by the Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum (Entreprenörskapsforum). He has received honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Augsburg in Germany and Jonköping University in Sweden. Audretsch was also awarded the Schumpeter Prize from the University of Wuppertal in Germany.

Audretsch has served as an advisory board member to a number of international research and policy institutes, including Chair of the Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung Berlin (German Institute for Economic Analysis Berlin); Chair of the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft (Foundation for the Promotion of German Science) in Berlin, Germany; the Center for European Economic Research (Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung) in Mannheim, Germany; National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine; New York Academy of Sciences; the Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum in Stockholm, Sweden; and the Jackstädt Centre for Entrepreneurship in Wuppertal, Germany.

Entrepreneurship and Regional Policy: The Role of Culture

Abstract: Entrepreneurship and Regional Policy: The Role of Culture
While a rich body of empirical studies has emerged focusing on specific policy instruments targeted to foster entrepreneurial activity, less attention has been paid to the policy context. The purpose of this presentation is to suggest that not only does the context matter for the efficacy of entrepreneurship policies, but in particular, the cultural context. While most studies and policy makers pose the question, “Which policies are most effective in fostering entrepreneurship and ultimately economic development,” this presentation considers the policy context by instead asking, “Under which cultural contexts will entrepreneurship policies be more effective and under which cultural contexts will entrepreneurship policies be less effective?”

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Sergio Rey

April 9, 2019, 325 Brooks Hall, 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Dr. Sergio Rey, Professor of Public Policy and Director, University of California, Riverside

Dr. Rey founded the Center for Geospatial Sciences at the University of California, Riverside and is a recognized leader in the movement to develop open source GIS and spatial analytical software. He is the creator and lead developer of the open source package STARS: Space-Time Analysis of Regional Systems, and the co-founder and lead developer of PySAL: An Open-Source Spatial Analysis Library written in Python. Because the library can be used with other software projects, PySAL has been downloaded by thousands of researchers and programmers and is recognized as an invaluable tool to facilitate spatial analysis both in the open source as well as in the commercial world.

His biography lists his research interests as focusing on the development, implementation, and application of advanced methods of spatial and space-time data analysis while his substantive foci include regional inequality, convergence and growth dynamics as well as neighborhood change, segregation dynamics, spatial criminology and industrial networks. He is an elected fellow of both the Regional Science Association International and the Spatial Econometrics Association. Additionally, he is the founding director for the Center for Geospatial Sciences at the University of California, Riverside. The Center focuses on fundamental research in spatial analysis, open source software and open science, collaborative interdisciplinary research, and dissemination and training.

He has earned some high-profile awards in his field, including the Geoffrey J.D. Hewings award for young scholars who have made distinguished contributions to regional science.  He also has earned the David Boyce Award for his service to regional science and was presented with the Outstanding Service Award from the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Spatial Analysis and Modeling Specialty Group. This year, he gave the Spatial Economic Analysis Plenary Lecture at the European Regional Science Association meeting.

He is editor of the International Regional Science Review and of Geographical Analysis. He has given more than 200 presentations and guest lectures and has made nearly 1,000 contributions in the past year to PySAL. He has published more than 120 articles in academic journals and has been cited 7,662 times, and Google Scholar has ranked him in the top 5% of cited authors He currently has nearly $1M in research grants from the National Science Foundation.

Specific seminar titles, and meeting places if not listed, will follow, but we wanted to give all of you a chance to mark your calendars early for these events that you won’t want to miss!

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Christa Jensen Court

April 25, 2019, 325 Brooks Hall, 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. 

Christa Jensen Court, Assistant Scientist, Food and Resource Economics Department; Assistant Director, Economic Impacts Analysis Program, University of Florida

Christa (Jensen) Court has won the Early Career/Doctoral Student Award for Best Paper at the British and Irish Section of the Regional Science Association International. She was also selected for the Southern Regional Science Association Barry M. Moriarty Student Paper Award. Her research interests include regional economic modeling, the energy-water nexus, applied spatial econometrics, environmental accounting, and connections in human and natural systems. Christa was inducted into the 2014 class of Generation Next: 40 under 40. This annual award for West Virginians showcases the next wave of leaders from various professions who are making a difference in their profession and in their community. She is a member of the International Society for Ecological Economics, Regional Science Association International, North American Regional Science Council, Southern Regional Science Association (SRSA), Regional Science Association International—British and Irish Section, and the Western Regional Science Association. She holds the position of treasurer at the SRSA.

She co-developed an input-output software package called IO-Snap designed to give users maximum flexibility in manipulating the Bureau of Economic Analysis input-output data from the U.S. national Supply and Use tables. With this software, users can edit, modify, and configure national and regional input-output data for a wide variety of analytical purposes, including having data for all states available in a highly aggregated level of reporting that best illustrates inter-regional and inter-temporal comparisons.

Her latest research is ganging Florida’s Gross State Product generated by agriculture, natural resources and food industries. She and her team changed their method for calculating their results from that which had been used in previous years. This year, they recalculated results for years 2007 through 2015 and expressed the results in 2016 dollars. This change in calculations enabled them to compare trends for individual industry sectors to see if the growth rate was steady.

Court co-developed an online comprehensive assessment form that extension agents can use to interview producers and to make first-hand observations after a natural disaster in Florida. This information is then presented to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the state offices of the United States Department of Agriculture to request disaster relief funds from Hurricane Irma that struck in 2017. Natural disasters cost the Florida economy between $5 and $10 billion annually.

She also produced a report to bring more jobs to Florida based on sales in Florida’s forest industry. This report was updated from 2003 numbers, and the numbers for 2016 indicated the industry increased employment figures by 19.53 percent, rising from 30,164 to 36,055.

She has given nearly 30 presentations and seminars and has nearly 20 publications. She is a First Generation Advocate, First Generation Student Support at the University of Florida. This avocation is to help students who are first in their family to get a college degree by helping them develop strategies to have a successful college experience, build academic and professional confidence, to access campus resources, and to connect to peer and professional mentors.
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2019 Summer Course in Spatial Econometrics

Regional Research Institute

Summer Course in Spatial Econometrics

June 25-28, 2019


The objective of the course is to provide a (not so short) introduction to spatial econometrics. Students will learn how to model and incorporate spatial dependencies into their empirical analyses. The course will cover basic as well as more advanced concepts ranging from the different typologies of spatial data, through the definition of connectivity in space (spatial weights matrices), to a comprehensive treatment of various spatial econometric models, both cross-sectional as well as panel. Estimation methods presented will include MLE (maximum likelihood), GMM (generalized method of moments), GLS (generalized least squares), and GS2SLS (generalized spatial two-stage least squares). The latter part of the course will deal with special topics such as panel data models and various testing procedures.


Gianfranco Piras, Associate Professor of Economics, The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.


The course is organized into a format that includes morning (theoretical) lectures and afternoon computing lab and applications sessions.


Suggested readings include:
Kelejian H.H. and Piras G. (2017) “Spatial Econometrics, 1st Edition”, Academic Press.
Additional readings will be provided during the course.


Applications Period Opens: January 8, 2019
Extended Application Deadline: April 23, 2019
Acceptance Notification: Two days after application is received.
Confirm Participation by April 27, 2019

Important Dates:

Applicants should submit a curriculum vitae and a brief statement of interest to the RRI . Applicants will be screened for suitable levels of prearation and background, and placed into the course on a first-come, first-served basis.

Fees: (Fees may change)

Course fees are $1,500. Fees cover course tuition, lunches and course material. Submitted fees will be non-refundable. Accommodation and other living expenses are not included. A block of rooms will be reserved at nearby hotels at a discounted rate.


The course will be hosted by West Virginia University’s Regional Research Institute located at 886 Chestnut Ridge Road, Morgan, WV, United States 26506.

West Virginia University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Institution. West Virginia University is governed by the West Virginia Board of Governors. 

RRI Faculty Research Associate Spotlight: Lindsay Allen

Dr. Lindsay Allen

We are proud to call our faculty research associates part of the RRI family. And as in any family, sharing information helps to strengthen bonds. In academia, it also provides one another with background information that may be useful in identifying collaborators and establishing relationships for future publications and research.

Therefore, each quarter, we will be profiling a different faculty research associate.

She is an avid Eagles football fan, can’t get enough reality television, and loves spending time with her family and three rescue dogs. But her real passion is working to ensure that underserved and vulnerable populations get the care they need—when they need it—and in the right care setting. Dr. Lindsay Allen is an Assistant Professor, heath economist, and health services researcher at the School of Public Health.  Currently, she is the co-Principal Investigator, along with Dr. Tom Bias, for the evaluation of West Virginia’s Substance Use Disorder 1115 Medicaid Waiver, designed to provide Medicaid enrollees better access to care for opioid and other substance related health issues.

Her interest in health care began in high school when seniors were required to complete a one-month internship with a local company; Allen chose to intern in the Sales Analytics department of a local pharmaceutical company. “Since that time, nearly all my work experiences have been in health care, though in very different parts of the system,” Allen said. “I tell my students that there are many facets of the health care system and that internships, fellowships, and volunteer work can go a long way in helping them figure out what they love to do,” Allen continued.

Her undergraduate and master’s degrees were earned at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Chicago, respectively; she achieved her Ph.D. at Emory University, where she met her now-husband. They graduated at the same time, and although it’s a rare occurrence, they had hoped to find positions at the same university and were fortunate enough to do so. Allen’s husband, Dr. Alex Lundberg, is an Assistant Professor of Economics in B&E.

“The field of health economics is full of terrific researchers who produce great work and are also exceptionally generous with their time and mentorship,” Allen said. Allen credits her two mentors from Emory University, Jason Hockenberry and Janet Cummings, with helping to shape her thorough and logical approach to research. She also names Kosali Simon from Indiana University, Guy David from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and Brendan Saloner from Johns Hopkins as researchers she admires.

Allen’s position gives her great satisfaction because she can see the many ways her research affects patients in the real world. “Right now, I’m especially interested in acute care, and the role of non-traditional delivery models in meeting the demand for it,” she said. Most of her work pertains to the structure of the health care system and its effects on patient interaction with it.

What does not give her satisfaction is the absence of universal health care in the United States; the only highly developed country in the world that doesn’t have it. Allen notes, “The majority of Americans have made it clear they want the government to provide health care for all. Medicare and Medicaid were originally created in the 1960s because it was thought that universal health care would not pass. Those bills provided public insurance for two specific groups (the elderly and the poor), which heavily influenced the piecemeal approach we have taken to expanding health insurance since then.” It is her goal to provide policymakers with the information they need to distribute health care resources in a manner that is not only efficient, but also helps people.

Allen is also interested in the spatial aspect of health care. “A lot of my research focuses on the supply of health care resources at the small area level. Instead of looking at state-level outcomes, I prefer to look at what’s going on at the zip code or census tract level,” Allen said. “When you make statements about health care in large geographies (such as the state or region of the country), you’re potentially missing out on a lot of important factors that are happening more locally. Consider Morgantown versus some of the more rural areas of West Virginia.” Allen continued. She points out how different the health needs and policy goals are in these areas, requiring different types of intervention.  She explains that it is important for policy makers to understand these nuances when they make their decisions based on her (and others’) research.

“I love the opportunities I currently have to collaborate with colleagues from WVU’s Economics Department, School of Pharmacy, and Department of Emergency Medicine,” Allen said. She points out that these interdisciplinary relationships strengthen the work being done in the School of Public Health. She is especially interested in collaborating with the Regional Research Institute on some advanced spatial techniques that will allow them to do a “deep dive into local health problems.” But she also wants others to know that if they are interested in collaborating, they can drop her a line at any time.


Jing Chen Wins the 2018 Barry M. Moriarty Award

Jing Chen receiving 2018 Barry M. Moriarty award from Dr. Steven Deller, UW-Madison

Which is better for economic growth—specialization or diversification?  According to Jing Chen, Regional Research Institute (RRI) Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) and Ph.D. candidate in Geography, regional scientists have suggested that the answer is both—specialization and diversity can coexist in a regional economy under diversified specializations. Chen’s curiosity was piqued as to how these two opposing theories could coexist, so he began his research to empirically test this proposition. The result was a paper titled “Interpreting Economic Diversity as the Presence of Multiple Specializations.”

Chen submitted his paper to the 57th Meeting of the Southern Regional Science Association that was held  March 15-17, 2018, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to compete for the Barry M. Moriarty Award. Entries were required to be original research by a sole author on a topic in regional science, with the author designing all maps, illustrations and audio-visual materials.

A panel of academicians and researchers recognized his scholarly work as the winning entry, presenting him with a plaque and $1,000. Chen said, “I am so excited to win this award. This paper was developed as a part of my dissertation research on economic diversity and regional development at a time when there were few empirical studies that had emphasized the coexistence of economic specialization and diversity.”

In his paper, Chen used three indices to measure regional economic diversity “to examine the relationship between economic structure and regional economic performance among 359 metropolitan statistical areas in the contiguous U.S.”  Chen also said, “The main contribution of this paper is to interpret economic diversity as the presence of multiple specializations to leverage the benefits of economic specialization and diversity simultaneously.”

Drs. Jackson and Schaeffer Recognized for Recent Scholarship

Randall Jackson

Peter V. Schaeffer

Drs. Randall Jackson and Peter V. Schaeffer are being recognized at the third annual celebration of long-form scholarship and creative work produced by WVU faculty and staff. In partnership with the WVU Humanities Center and the WVU Press, the Provost Office plans to celebrate and recognize the achievements of all faculty and staff members who have published a book, released a cd, or produced a full-length work in another medium (e.g., art or theater). For Drs. Jackson and Schaeffer, the work they will be recognized for is: Regional Research Frontiers: Vol 1 – Innovations, Regional Growth and Migration; and Regional Research Frontiers: Vol 2 – Methodological Advances, Regional Systems Modeling and Open Sciences, The nearly 700 page, two-part series are published by Springer International Publishing.

Volume 1  Identifies trends and future developments in the areas of innovation, regional growth and migration; covers research areas such as mobility, regional forecasting, and regional policy, and includes expert contributions on disasters, resilience, and sustainability; and builds on recent methodological and modelling advances, as well as on extensive policy-analysis experience.

Volume 2 identifies methodological advances as well as trends and future developments in regional systems modelling and open science; covers research areas such as interindustry modelling, computable general equilibrium models, exploratory spatial data analysis, geographic information science, and spatial economics; and builds on recent methodological and modeling advances, as well as on extensive policy-analysis experience.

The celebration is being held on March 22 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the Milano Reading Room at the Wise library and is open to the public.



RRI Faculty Research Associate Spotlight: Dr. Xiaoli Etienne

Xiaoli Etienne

We are proud to call our faculty research associates part of the RRI family. And as in any family, sharing information helps to strengthen bonds. In academia, it also provides one another with background information that may be useful in identifying collaborators and establishing relationships for future publications and research.

Therefore, each quarter, we will be profiling a different faculty research associate.

We never know what experiences during our childhood will shape our future. For Dr. Xiaoli Etienne, Assistant Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics, it was the trips she spent with her father visiting farms in rural China. As her father, who worked for the local government’s agricultural division, conducted field surveys, young Xiaoli was learning one of life’s harsh lessons― that each year poor farmers in China were taking life-or-death financial risks, and it was this revelation that drove her to choose agricultural economics as her career.

In college, Etienne learned that applied economics is a critical tool to understand poverty and risk as well as to explain social phenomena and human behavior, solve real-world problems, and educate policymakers. Through applied economics, she would be able to benefit everyone involved in the economy, including the poor farmers in China.

Currently, Etienne is working on various issues in food, agricultural, and energy markets, in particular those related to price volatility. Her short-term goals are ambitious: to broaden her research fields (including regional analysis) while maintaining her research productivity in the area of commodity market analysis. “Eventually I would like to establish myself as an expert in agricultural and resource economics, as an educator that inspires others to dream bigger and motivates them to work harder, and as an economist that contributes to policy-making that challenges the status quo and creates a better world,” Etienne said.  Some of the researchers in her field that she admires and respects include, but are not limited to, Holbrook Working, William Tomek, Eugene Fama, Bruce Gardner, and Anne Peck.

She and her husband, an assistant professor in WVU’s Department of Mathematics, came to the University in 2014. Xiaoli was drawn by WVU’s high research productivity, particularly its energy-related research, and she was particularly excited that the University encourages and fosters creativity, offers a friendly working environment, and is close to Washington D.C. and Pittsburgh, PA.

“I have found the people in Davis College are quite friendly and hard-working, and my colleagues and students commit themselves to their work,” Etienne said. “They are a constant motivator for me to tackle research problems, and while everyone is willing to share their views or advice, I am particularly grateful and indebted to Dean Robison and my division chair Gerard D’Souza, both of whom have assisted me in my professional development and are there when I need advice to handle a challenging situation.”

The findings for some of her research have been surprising. Recently, for example, she and her Ph.D. student Alexandre Scarcioffolo investigated spatial price integration of natural gas markets in various regional markets in the U.S. Historically, Etienne points out, natural gas was one of the most highly regulated markets in the U.S., but this changed in the late 1970s when the industry began to deregulate amid natural gas shortages. One interesting question emerged: has the deregulation achieved its intended goal of developing a nationwide spot market that efficiently allocates natural gas? To find the answer, Etienne and Scarcioffolo evaluated the degree to which regional markets in the U.S. natural gas industry are connected and the role each market plays in the determination of national prices. The unexpected finding was that while the regional markets have become more integrated over time, the integration process seems to have slowed down recently.

“In particular,” Etienne said, “the spillover index we constructed—which measures how a shock in one market affects the price in another market―has declined over the past few years. This is surprising because this corresponds to the recent shale boom that has flooded the market with cheap natural gas.” Given the increasing completion, she expected the regional markets to be more connected. “However, this may not be that surprising after all since natural gas demand, particularly in the short run, is quite inelastic. This means that shocks in one market may have a smaller impact on another market when the overall price level is low. The issue can further be complicated by pipeline capacity constraints, a lack of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facilities, and other regional-specific demand and supply factors.”

Etienne incorporates many regional elements into her research and classes.  In addition to the natural gas market integration paper, she is currently investigating the determinants of price linkages between various regional natural gas markets in the U.S. Such factors may include the geographic distance, pipeline transmission capacity, industry growth, and development of renewable energy, just to name a few. “This is a multifaceted problem, and we are tackling it from both spatial and time series perspectives,” Etienne said.  In another paper, which is still in the early exploratory stage, she plans to use input-output models to estimate the economic impacts of rising foreign competition in the international markets faced by the U.S. grain sectors. “This is a very timely issue because the U.S.’s role as the leading grain exporter in the world is being challenged by South American countries,” Etienne said.

Etienne suggests that graduate students aiming for success would do well to sharpen their programming skills, particularly “R” and Matlab. In an era of big data, she says, the ability to efficiently process, clean, analyze, and make inferences from data are the essential skills for applied economists.

Some of her accomplishments include more than 24 publications in professional journals, conference proceedings, and the popular press (articles for the general public), refereeing articles for more than twenty professional journals, serving on various committees within WVU and in the profession, advising a number of Ph.D. and M.S. students, and teaching two graduate classes and one undergraduate course. She was awarded the Divison’s outstanding researcher in 2015 and was named a 2015 Big XII faculty fellow. More recently, one of her papers was listed as the top 10 most cited articles in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics (AJAE) in 2017, the profession’s top journal.

With all the demands on her time, it’s hard to imagine how she can find time for activities outside her academic life. She finds balance by following time management expert Laura Vanderkam who says, “Time is highly elastic. We cannot make more time, but time will stretch to accommodate what we need or want to put into it.” Through Vanderkam’s Ted talk titled “How to Gain Control of your Free time,” Etienne learned that managing time is about choosing priorities. She enjoys spending time with her husband and two little boys and traveling around the world with them; her goal is to visit all states in the U.S. (26 so far), all provinces in China (16 so far), and all continents in the world (5 so far; only Africa and Australia remain).


What is the Future of Regional Science

Regional Research Frontiers, Volume 1 and Volume 2 was released this past spring by Springer as a part of their Advances in Spatial Science series. Edited by Randall Jackson, Director of the Regional Research Institute (RRI), Professor of Geology and Geography, and Adjunct Professor of Economics at West Virginia University and Peter V. Schaeffer, Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Adjunct Professor of Economics, and RRI Faculty Research Associate, the two-volume book comprises 37 authors and almost 700 pages.

Click here for more information about Regional Research Frontiers – Volume 1 and Volume 2.






Two RRI Graduate Research Assistants Win Best Paper Award

Elham Erfanian

Elham Erfanian

Amir Borges Ferreira Neto

Amir Borges Ferreira Neto

Elham Erfanian and Amir Borges Ferreira Neto, two RRI graduate research assistants, were co-recipients of the monetary award for Best Paper in Economics by a Graduate Student at the Academy of Economy and Finance. The presentation took place at the Academy’s 54th annual conference in late February in Charleston, SC.

The Academy is celebrating its 50th year; its mission is to support the increasing role played by financial economists and finance specialists. Originally more regional in nature, it began in Mississippi, its membership base had expanded over the years to include members from  many states in addition to areas outside the borders of the United States.

Erfanian, also a doctoral candidate in Agricultural and Resource Economics, said, “I am so glad to win the award. We started the paper from an assignment for our econometrics II course. Adding a spatial dimension to the research enabled us to ask more questions about the effects that R&D elements has on research output. Incorporating spatial dimension and measuring neighboring effects helps regional economists to incorporate the spillover effects in research and development literature and that leads to more realistic policy implementations.”

Borges Ferreira Neto had this to say, “I am very happy to have won the outstanding graduate student paper award in Economics as it tells me I am on the right path as a researcher. With respect to regional science, this paper’s main contribution is to re-introduce the importance of looking at this other facet of innovation, namely, the production of science (journal articles) instead of usual measure: patents.”

The name of the winning paper they co-authored is Scientific output: labor or capital intensive? An analysis for selected countries. In the paper, they explain why “policy-makers should understand how the different inputs – namely labor and capital – are related to a country’s scientific output.” They address this issue by “estimating output elasticities for labor and capital using a panel of 31 countries in nine years.”

Dr. Randall Jackson, RRI Director had this to say about the winners, “We are very proud of Elham and Amir, who have now joined the ranks of other RRI graduate student award winners.  Recognitions like these reinforce the value and benefits of direct graduate student participation in funded research projects, from inception through research communications.”

The two authors have had their paper published in Scientometrics, Volume 112(1) pp. 461-482. Scientometrics is an international journal for all quantitative aspects of the science of science, communication in science and science policy.

New Input-Output Software Now Available

In line with an Economic Development Administration research project on Regional Innovation Systems, RRI researchers set about to gain firsthand technology transfer experience by developing its own commercial software. In the process, we gained valuable insights into copyrighting, licensing, and other steps in the tech transfer process. These efforts produced not only academic insights and outcomes, but we also now have in hand the software, called IO-Snap (Input-Output State and National Analysis Program).

A Demo/Trial version is available now, and the Pro version, which will have greater sectoral detail and more years of data, will be released in coming weeks. The Demo/Trial version is ideal for classroom use, and we expect it to continue to be free to all users. Once the IO-Snap Pro is released, it will available at no cost to users within WVU; however, there will be a cost to users outside WVU.

To get your copy or learn more about IO-Snap, including video tutorials, please visit the IO-Snap Website.

If you decide to download your own copy, you will be taken to a typical product purchase page. You will need to enter all but the credit card/financial info to get the product link.

Let us know what you think about the software!

WVU to Lead ARC-Funded Research on the Coal Industry Ecosystem


A collaborative team of researchers at West Virginia University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville has received a grant of nearly $350,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission and the U.S. Economic Development Administration to study the consequences of falling coal demand on the Appalachian region.

Researchers from WVU’s College of Business and Economics and the Regional Research Institute are part of the team that will study the breadth and depth of the declining coal industry on Appalachia.

John Deskins, director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at WVU, said, “Currently data exist that simply report the losses in direct coal employment across Appalachia. However, there is no existing research that also documents the full economic effect of coal’s decline on communities across Appalachia given a community’s broader economic context, and when considering losses from businesses that are linked to coal through supplier connections and impacts associated with losses at coal-fired power plants. Our research will be the first to establish the complete economic impact of coal’s decline across Appalachian communities and, as such, our work will be critical in properly directing any economic redevelopment efforts in coming years in light of coal’s decline.”

The grant project, which should be completed in June 2017, was one of 42 awards totaling nearly $28 million from the Obama administration’s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) initiative to stimulate economic growth and opportunity in communities that have historically relied on the coal industry. The WVU/UT research project will also look at trends in coal production, transportation and coal-based power generation to determine how the coal industry downturn might impact freight rail, barge and truck transportation. Rounding out the project will be an analysis of the impacts of the coal industry decline on human capital resources and development in Appalachia.

Randall Jackson, director of the Regional Research Institute at WVU and project principle investigator, said the project is perfectly aligned with the land-grant mission of both universities.

“Our group includes individuals who have devoted their careers to understanding industrial economic systems, energy policy, transportation and human capital,” he said. “Our research expertise is perfectly matched to project goals.”

The UT researchers are from the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, the Center for Transportation Research in the Tickle College of Engineering, and the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research, in the Haslam College of Business.

This year, the POWER initiative has invested $66.3 million in 71 projects to diversify local and regional economies by retraining coal industry workers in 15 states for jobs in agriculture, technology, entrepreneurship, manufacturing and other industries.

“These federal investments will enable Appalachia’s coal-impacted communities to continue their work developing innovative paths towards economic resilience,” said Earl F. Gohl, federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission. “They will directly support the region’s emerging industries, which are making Appalachia America’s next great investment opportunity.”

“We are very pleased to engage in this research,” Jackson said, “which gives us the opportunity to deepen our understanding of the coal industry ecosystem and, at the same time, contribute to our own Appalachian region as we adjust and adapt to new and sometimes painful economic realities.”