Associate Professor, Economics
Why did you decide to call in sick from work and drive eight hours to hear your favorite band play? The owners of the diner and the gas station you stopped at were glad you did; so was the state government that collected your toll. Every choice we make as individuals, no matter how minuscule it might seem, will have varying degrees of direct and indirect effects on other individuals, on businesses, on communities, on government spending, etc. Understanding how individuals and businesses make choices and the extent to which they harm or benefit others is the primary objective of economists. Economists seek to tackle a wide range of problems, such as improving healthcare and insurance premiums, improving the speed at which your Amazon order arrives, determining the fees to charge corporations that pollute—the list goes on and on.
I believe my role as an educator is to help students better understand how they are making decisions and how individual behavior influences market and societal outcomes. Using classroom experiments can be a fun way to explore these influences. Muhlenberg’s small class sizes allow me to run numerous experiments each semester and create an ideal environment for discussing current events tailored to the class’ interests.
Research, Scholarship or Creative/Artistic Interests
My primary area of research is in the broad field of applied microeconomic theory. I concentrate in the subfields of game theory, experimental economics and auction theory. Each of these focuses on strategic interactions—trying to outsmart your opponent or strategically cooperate for personal gain. Much of my research is motivated by situations that I have experienced or by changes to regulations or procedures within areas in which I have a personal interest. For example, having been a collegiate athlete, I have explored interesting economic questions involving Major League Baseball drafts and the gender wage gap for female athletes. I have also looked at the role of the seller’s assist when negotiating the sale of a home and how an individual’s personal characteristics affect their ability to negotiate when time is of the essence. Because the motivations of my research are very approachable, I often collaborate with students who come seeking answers to their own interesting observations about behavior.