jobmarket-0076.jpgI’m happy to have you here on my website!  A little about me:  I’m an assistant professor of economics at Kenyon College and the Chief Chaos Organizer of the Black Family Household.  On my website you can see both my professional accomplishments and some of my personal endeavors.

Academic “Pedigree”: I am a PhD graduate of the University of Pittsburgh economics program, Economics Master’s of Arts graduate of Youngstown State University, and a Mathematics (Actuarial Science concentration) Bachelor’s of Science graduate of Penn State University.

If you’re curious about my list of my publications, click HERE

If you want a copy of my most current CV, click HERE

If you’re interested in the classes that I teach, click HERE

Personal: I attempt to balance full time work, full time spouse, full time mother, and full time fitness participant.  I clearly don’t prescribe to budget constraints in this model! I have two girls who amaze (and exasperate) me every day, two labrador retrievers that allow us to live in their house, and a husband who helps me manage all of these beings.  You can usually find our family doing something active.  I enjoy running, wakeboarding, snowboarding, waterskiing, hiking, and lifting.  My oldest, H, usually wakes up and asks, “Where we goin’ today?”

Economics is a choice between alternatives all the time. Those are the trade-offs.  Paul Samuelson



We’ve completed our final week of #DigPINS, and this week focuses on scholarship.  One thing we consider is how to work “in the open,” which is a daunting idea for me, mainly because it just isn’t done that way in the econ-world.  Which is also what makes the idea really interesting to me!

We were challenged to find an open-access article to share with the group.  Seems pretty simple, right? False.  One ScienceDirect I searched all over for articles looking at land conservation, housing values, oil and gas drilling, etc, and I found that there were very slim options available.  Some journals were consistently showing up as the open-access, Creative Commons licence, and ALL of the top economics field journals were removed when I filtered “open-access.”

As an example: I searched the phrase “land use hedonic economics” which yielded 2,669 results.  Awesome! Here are some journals that had results matching this phrase:


Most of the journals listed above are well-known and respected economics journals (i.e. places I, and my department, would be happy to have my research land)

Next, I filtered for open-access and I was left with 114 results.  Of which, only 5 of them came from a well-known economics journal: Ecological Economics.


In my search, only 4.3% of journal articles are open access (In general, this implies that people other than academics can access them).  Further, only 0.1% of the open access articles are from (relatively) high ranking economics journals. In Ecological Economics.  I found Yong Jiang & Stephen K. Swallow’s 2017 article titled:  Impact Fees Coupled With Conservation Payments to Sustain Ecosystem Structure: A Conceptual and Numerical Application at the Urban-Rural Fringe, which investigates how we might leverage environmental impact fees on development in order to finance conservation payments in the surrounding areas.

So the idea of working in the open can be a little daunting, given the fact that many other economists aren’t choosing (PAYING FOR) the open access option for their article. According to Jim Ottaviani, there’s a 20% benefit of increased citations from having an article designated as open access vs. closed.  Economists LOVE their cost-benefit analysis, so why are we not seeing more open-access articles from economists?  One reason may be the journal’s approach to fees: author-based or reader-based.  Author-based fees place the burden on the author either for submission or publication, while reader-based fees generate revenue from subscriptions. McCabe & Snyder (2005) have a novel model that proposes author-based fees that are split between submission and publication.  I really think that balancing fees between the submission and publication process can encourage open-access by authors and also remove the incentive to overpublish.  One concern is that if a journal’s revenue is based on the number of articles that they publish, they are incentivized to overpublish.  However, as McCabe and Snyder (2005) point out, if the journal generates revenue from submissions, the incentive to overpublish is removed.

Interestingly, my most recent publication, Wide Open Spaces: Estimating the Willingness to Pay for Adjacent Preserved Open Space landed at Regional Science and Urban Economics.  This journal allows authors 50 days of open-access to share their article with no sign-up requests.  So, you have until mid-late August to check it out :-).  I will say that I chose to forgo open-access based on the explicit costs to me.  I will not be providing citation counts or views in my pre-tenure prospectus so the potential benefits to me (professionally) are relatively low.  Given my research/ professional development budget constraint, I would prefer to present my work at an environmental economics-focused conference.  This would give my work concentrated exposure to other professionals in my specific field, which is great! However, not paying for open access removes any potential collaborations outside my discipline or other economists who may not be at the conferences, which is not so great.

Overall: Working in the open feels to me like uncharted territory.  I’m definitely going to be more open with discussing ideas in public, hopefully generating new connections and collaborations!

Cheers to the end of DigPINS, it has been a great month, I have learned SO MUCH, and gotten so many new ideas/approaches for all aspects of my professional life.


McCabe, Mark J., and Christopher M. Snyder. “Open Access and Academic Journal Quality.” The American Economic Review, vol. 95, no. 2, 2005, pp. 453–458. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/4132864.


DigPINS – Pedagogy Week 3

In a liberal arts learning environment, sometimes digital approaches can be met with hostility. However, I’ve found my department to be very encouraging of alternative approaches to classes.  I have, at times, struggled with how I can make my courses engaging, inclusive, challenging, and interesting to all of my students (spoiler alert: not everyone is going to love my class).  One thing I’ve been interested in during this whole DigPINS process has been bringing the digital into the classroom…. SAFELY.

I loved reading all of the exciting, positive, and innovative blog posts from authors such as Sean Michael Morris and Catherine Cronin, but I’m also glad our group leaders suggested Amy Collier’s post about the real hurdles that we need to consider when we encourage our students to work out in the open.  Students may not understand what it means to hit “publish” or “retweet” for their work.  I’m also encouraged and inspired by the open textbook authored by Robin DeRosa and her students.  In all honesty I don’t believe that I’m at the point in my career where an undertaking like this feels feasible.

For my Intro to Macroeconomics class in the fall, I was considering a photo assignment in an attempt to motivate students to think about Econ in their own life.  However, Macroeconomics is a difficult topic to photograph in your everyday life (I know my students are creative and they would have made it work…. I’m 100% sure of that).  I was wrestling with this idea and I’m so glad we are exploring Hypothesis as a means of annotating a webpage/blog post.  This kind of digital conversation would be EXTREMELY useful in an introductory class to allow students to, first, choose an article; second, comment on the article with their peers; and lastly, respond to other students’ questions and comments.

Another introductory economics exercise that this week has me considering is related to our current economic climate.  We hear the term “fake news” so often that most of us use it jokingly.  Like when my 4 year old tells me a unicorn visited her classroom….. that’s “fake news.” BUT, our students need to be equipped to discern what is real, what is fake, and what is “dressed up.” For instance, unemployment rates released by the BLS for June 2018 show that our national unemployment rate is 4.0%.  I want my students to be able to look at that 4% and think to themselves: Is this a “low rate?” Is it seasonally adjusted? What factors go into this percentage?  Could there be something else driving this? Do we WANT a 4% unemployment rate? What might this indicate for our economy?

What about South Africa’s unemployment rate?

Source: https://twitter.com/Mkansi_R/status/1016339070287532033

What about GDP? Real vs. nominal?

Source: https://twitter.com/AtlantaFed/status/1019594548824170497

Students (all people, really) are constantly inundated with information about our economy, but most don’t investigate the authenticity of the information they are receiving.  In an attempt to hone some of these research and deductive reasoning skills I’m inspired to ask my students to set up (or use their personal) Twitter accounts in order to bring articles to the class’s attention.  Then, as a group, we can comment on the article using Hypothesis or even a Moodle forum.  I believe this exercise can bring a lot of classroom dialogue into an introductory class. In addition, students can begin to find data and facts to back up (or disprove) these articles.  It also allows the students to focus in on their own personal interests, which will lead to some students being very active during the Money & Banking chapter while others may be large contributors during the Unemployment chapter.

One question I’m sure I will receive is: How are you grading this, Professor?  That’s a great question and one that I’m in the process of working out.  I’m open to suggestions! One idea may be a “bare minimum” that will get you 80% credit, another may be to let the students grade themselves on their contributions, and lastly this could be used as a “buffer credit” that will help a student who is on the cusp of another letter grade.

I’m really excited to implement this digital exercise in my Intro class, and I’m thankful for the great foundation (i.e. watchout for potential pitfalls!) that the DigPINS group has provided in week 3.

Onto week 4!

Digital Pedagogy, Identity, Networks, and Scholarship – Week 2

Building a learning network – How?

Next step in this digital identity process is to figure out how I’m going to learn from others on these networks.  In my mind, I’ve broken these networks into two different levels of learning

  1. fast food
  2. restaurant

Fast-food learning consists of information that can be concisely presented and quickly ingested (hopefully healthier than most fast food…. but that’s a different post). I would put Twitter and Facebook into these categories.

Restaurant learning is information that requires extra time for reading and processing.  I would put journal articles and lengthy blog posts into this category.

Now, how to construct a network that will benefit me (an applied microeconomist, athlete, mom, dog lover) and my professional identity (research, teaching, etc). I’ve chosen to focus on how I’m creating these the fast-food networks, specifically Twitter, for this post. I’ve found Dave Cormier’s 5-step guide to succeeding in a “Massive Open Online Course”… which I believe we can agree that the internet is considered massive and open.  In the steps, I’m completing the first step (orient yourself in the network)

kitty GIF source: https://imgur.com/gallery/LwHijWA


and moving on to the second (declaring that “I’m here!”).


Step 1:

I used some of Twitter’s suggested connections.  These were mainly for running, fitness, momming, and pups.

Next, I searched for some well-known Econ sources.  For instance: Bloomberg Econ, Brookings Econ, The Economist, Resources for the Future,  Freakonomics, and Micro Econ.

Then, I searched for a few of the economists I’ve met at various conferences and other professional settings.  One extra step I took here was to look at the people who THEY followed in order to hopefully find other connections.  If I respect these people who I’ve met in real life, I’m more likely to trust their connections compared to a brand new connection.  Also, this cuts down on my search time to find other connections!


Will Luther (@WilliamJLuther)  who follows @KenyonEcon and @NortonEconomics.

Doug Wrenn (@DHWrenn) at Penn State Ag Econ who follows AEI Economics (@AEIecon), Nature Conservancy (@nature_org), Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) and Tyler Cowen (@tylercowen).

Dirk Mateer (@dirkmateer) who is a phenomenal economics lecturer/professor.  I used his connections to find some great economics teaching accounts.  Such as, @economicsgames and @econteaching.

Lastly, I began following some organizers of conferences I am going to or would like to go to: EconEd – @MacmillanEcon and Nick Flores – @Nicholas_Flores

Step 2:

Hello!  Anybody out there??

I’m beginning my “step 2” by hitting publish on this post and linking it to my Twitter account.


Buddy the Elf GIF source: www.giphy.com


Sounds like I have it all handled right?  Naaaaahhhhhh…….

In the future: I need to get alternative points of views and other disciplines such as sociology, psychology, finance, math, environmental, and NON-ACADEMICS to be represented in my networks.

Why do I need other points of view?  So that my news feed doesn’t become an echo chamber. I’m loving the game from Nicky Case – Wisdom/Madness of Crowds, that illustrates how crowds can spiral into madness very quickly. With an echo chamber, if my information is wrong and I only surround myself with people who are, in essence, carbon Katie Jo’s then I’m going to continue to reaffirm my incorrect information.

Conversely, if my group has a great piece of information, then I WANT to share it! And sharing it into an echo chamber doesn’t benefit anyone except your group.  And, as I tell my 4 year old: Sharing benefits others and it isn’t going to hurt you.  Any ideas how I can get her to believe me??

**I’m also loving the  Nicky Case – Wisdom/Madness of Crowds in a research framework because I’m interested in how, given a cost/benefit problem, we can get people to adjust their behaviors and make the rational decision, since we know that people are irrational.  The question is, are they irrational because they lack information, are they getting the WRONG information, or are they calculating the cost/benefits incorrectly?  This game and social network theories in general, gives me a lot more to think about as far as complex contagions or bonding and bridging are concerned.

Anyone else interested in social networks and information dissemination?? (This is another step 2!)


Digital Pedagogy, Identity, Networks, and Scholarship – Week 1

DigPINS – Managing your professional digital identity

As a person who grew up at the same time the internet did, I would expect myself to be more digitally active than I am currently. (I’ll save you the estimation and math…. I’m 32)  I chose in undergrad to use Facebook as my frequent digital platform and found many of my friends doing the same thing.  It was really fun to post albums, tag friends, make titles for pictures, keep in touch over summer break, and reconnect with old friends. Then we entered our senior year of college.  Job search, interviews, background checks. Many of my friends shut down, removed, locked, etc their digital profiles because of job prospects.  I didn’t remove Facebook, but I did set my profile to strictly private.  I hear about all the internet trolls and various other “not so kind” entities.  Even recent stories from friends and coworkers have swirled around me.  I took all of these responses and anecdotes to heart, and I have developed what I refer to as a healthy respect for digital profiles.

An opportunity was provided at Kenyon College to receive some guidance regarding professional digital identities.

I believe this course will be very helpful in getting my professional identity up and running as well as efficient; since I don’t need to remake the wheel because someone else already has the information.  Our first week is focusing on our digital identity and how we use technology.  We have watched a couple videos about “visitors vs residents” by David White (video here) and I’ve found this articulates my feelings about the relationship between technology and learning very well.  I don’t believe that my grandfather “can’t learn” the internet, he just hasn’t spent enough time there to make himself into a resident of email or Google search.

We have been challenged to make our own “visitors vs residents” map to evaluate our status in the digital world.  Mine is below, and my personal goal is that some of these boxes will move by the end of this course and even farther by the end of this summer.


What do you notice?  Here are the pieces that I’m reflecting on:

  • I’m not much of a resident anywhere… yet.
  • Most of my digital identity is very dichotimous, either its personal or professional, not both.
  • I’m happy with my Facebook status NOT being residential. (wait, what?)
  • I have a lot of digital pieces in my professional areas, but the pieces in my personal quadrant are pretty large in terms of on-line time proportion.

My goals for the end of this summer would be:

  • Move my website, blog, and twitter boxes to the right.  If I become more residential that also means more efficient!  More efficient means I don’t have to spend hours and hours on a single digital project.
  • Stretch my blog box towards personal. Not that I feel my blogging is going to be in high demand, but I do believe that I have an interesting perspective on balancing professional, family, and fitness lives.
  • Make the Facebook box smaller.
  • Be consistent with my digital profiles and attempt to have them synchronized.  Dr. Elaine Young has a really interesting class (Professional Digital Identity) for students, but with a nice article that gives 5 concise bullet points about the first steps to creating a digital identity.  This article can speak well to faculty also.





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