Category: Faculty Spotlight

Brown Bag Lunch Seminar

The School of Business and Economics will have its second brown bag lunch research seminar from noon – 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 13, in Academic Office Building 101.  Associate Professor of Management, Manish Srivistava will present his latest research breakthrough.

Title: Firm Risk and Market Valuation: A Reexamination Using Quantile Regression


Despite a very long history the relationship between firm risk and market value of firms is poorly understood.  Some of the prior research have shown a positive relationship, others have found a negative relationship, while still others have found no relationship. Considering the inconsistency of these findings, in this research, we reexamine this relationship using quantile regression and make an attempt to reconcile some of the contradictory findings.


Kendra Rasner SURF Acceptance

Senior finance and economics major, Kendra Rasner has had her Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) proposal accepted! Kendra’s project is entitled, “The Joint Effects of Sentiment and Investor Attention: An Investigation on Market Indices”. The funding was competitive with a record of 64 SURF proposals submitted!  Kendra will work throughout the summer with faculty mentor, Dr. Heather Knewtson.

A few words from Kendra:

“When Dr. Knewtson first mentioned the possibility of doing research over the summer I was beyond excited. That same week I began reading, researching, and writing my proposal. Just last week I received an email notifying me that my proposal had been selected for the funding and I had to reread the email because I couldn’t believe it. I will spend a majority of my summer in Houghton taking a few classes and spending the rest of my time researching the joint effects of sentiment and investor attention on market indices. Building on previous financial models I hope to further analyze and increase the overall understanding of investor sentiment and attention as pricing factors. In order to achieve my research goals I anticipate I will spend many of my summer hours in the APMP lab and I couldn’t be more excited about it!”


Economic Equality and Entrepreneurship: SBE Faculty Publish Top Paper

1-27-16 Tech Today

A paper about the role that economic inequality may play on entrepreneurial entry, co-authored by Emanuel Xavier-Oliveira (SBE) and Andre Laplume (SBE) (as well as Pathak from KSU), was chosen as one of the top 10 papers of the year 2015 published in the Human Relations Journal (ranked #5 in Social Sciences, Interdisciplinary).

This recognition is awarded by the journal’s editorial team to the papers that best encapsulate broad readership appeal, sound methods and whose theories advance knowledge.

Breffle Recognized for Outstanding Teaching

Dr. William Breffle, Associate Professor of Economics within Michigan Tech’s School of Business and Economics (SBE), has been selected as a finalist for the Distinguished Teaching Award, a notable recognition from the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning.

Based on 50,000 student ratings, five finalists were chosen for the 2015 award. The selection committee will be basing its ultimate decision on class surveying, and on recommendations from the Tech community. Staff, faculty, and all current and former students of Dr. William Breffle are strongly encouraged to submit a recommendation by Friday, April 3.

Associate Professor Breffle is consistently one of the SBE’s most beloved professors. In the 33 courses he has taught, Breffle maintains an average rating of 4.6 on student evaluations. He has an overall quality rating of 4.3 on Rate My Professors, being cited as inspirational and known to give amazing lectures. One student of EC3100: International Economics wrote in December 2014,

“In seven years of academia, Dr. Breffle is BY FAR the best professor I’ve ever had. Extremely passionate about his topic and wants students to learn. He uses real world examples to simplify the subject and is a fair grader. Took another class from him because he’s THAT good!”

Breffle is also an active researcher, having published over 20 peer-reviewed articles, including very recent papers in top journals such as Contemporary Economic Policy, Environmental and Resource Economics, and  Ecological Economics, among many others. His strong research record helps to keep his classroom curriculum on the cutting edge and directly related to real-world policy. His current research interests lay within environmental economics, non-market valuation, discrete choice modeling, benefit-cost analysis, restoration program planning, and health economics.

Breffle’s impressive resume also boasts numerous presentations at  institutions nationwide, including Colorado State University and Cornell University. He currently serves as article reviewer for 19 top journals in environmental economics and policy, and he remains a member of Mensa, Phi Beta Kappa, the American Economics Association, and the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, among others.  A new father, Breffle has found a perfect balance between life with a newborn and his love for teaching economics.

Please submit a comment in favor of his award recognition by clicking here so that we can show Dr. Breffle how much we appreciate his hard work and dedication to Michigan Tech!

Last Blast of Energy Econ: Mark Roberts Bids Farewell

Mark Roberts in front of his solar panels at his house.

Damp wind and scattered flurries were cold leftovers from an overnight slush event: a perfect late-April Keweenaw send-off after 29 years of teaching at Michigan Technological University.

Mark Roberts, professor of economics, lectured on alternative sources of electricity on his last day in front of a class.

“Keeping up to date with the constant change,” was his biggest challenge, he said before class. And, given the dramatic energy transformation over three decades, that wasn’t hard to believe.

He proved it in his last lecture, covering a lot of ground and wishing he had more time.

Solar makes more sense in the sunny southwestern US, like in the Mojave Desert, he said. Drops in the price of solar cells made adding more of them more cost effective than panels with specialized lenses.

Wind has possibilities in certain locations, Roberts said, but the windier air 80 meters up makes it a better option for commercial ventures than for individuals.  The middle of the Great Plains up to Canada and the California mountain passes are promising places for wind energy..

He showed a map of coastal winds with potential for 50-meter high turbines. There are more offshore wind turbines in Europe, he said.

“As we’ve mentioned, the problem with the Keweenaw is not the amount of wind, but the lack of a population to use it and the need for transmission to other areas,” Roberts pointed out.

Wind turbines can be considered an eyesore, and their power is intermittent, he said.

Hydroelectric power is most prevalent in the far western US, but was excluded from many federal parks and lands, such as the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, the Sierras.

He mentioned famous examples of dams: Hoover and Grand Coulee (which generates three to four times the power of Hoover). They are operated by a giant rotor and spinning magnetic fields.

A student asked about residents displaced by the projects.

“They were compensated, but not fairly,” Roberts said.

Geothermal is another western-centric energy source in the US. Roberts described it as a “hot rock area, but you need to live close to it to do any good.  Iceland, Italy and the Philippines are all heavily invested in it.

Another alternative is biomass–both forest and crop residue–which is economical to collect and use where available.

Ethanol and biodiesel are the best-known examples of biomass-based energy. The first biodiesel was actually peanut oil, a fact verified by a student.

Roberts passed around a chunk of oil shale, “a precursor to oil” found in the cliffs of Colorado. It’s not economical, he said. “They’ve been promising it for 100 years!”

I finally saw a supply and demand chart, for hydrogen (which is an energy carrier, not a source, Roberts emphasized). Waves of memories flooded me as I recalled one of the rare tidbits of econ that made sense to me long ago.

He discussed power generated from dried manure, municipal waste, waves and tides, and the most out of this world–literally–solar collectors in space, which would generate super-intense light and heat.

“There’s concern about birds hitting wind turbines, but can you imagine the birds getting cooked by that?” Roberts remarked. The class chuckled.

“The issues changed every year,” the professor reiterated after class. “In the 1980s and ’90s, the price of oil was low and it was abundant, but there were natural gas problems. Recently, there was a run-up in oil prices, in 2000 to 2008. We were afraid of running out of oil.”

Now fracking is the big concern, he said, but without it gas prices could have soared.

“Nuclear is having a revival, and there is great potential with new ideas,” he said. “But the political climate and problems with waste disposal aren’t helping it.”

Roberts said he’s changed the course over the years to account for the influx of international students.

He’ll miss Gary Campbell, who taught mineral economics with him for years, and many other people in the School of Business.

He’ll continue with his own energy econ at home, with a wood-heated, solar-powered house.

“This has been a great place to work,” he said. “I enjoyed it here.”

This story was written by Dennis Walikainen for Michigan Tech News. Please click here to see the original posting.