News and Views from the Economics Department at Rice
We hope you are enjoying our beautiful fall semester as well as our multitude of in-person classes , which as you so well know are being offered for the first time in a while . And thanks for diligently following Rice ’ s COVID protocols , which make in-class instruction possible .
We are pleased to report that we are going to resume our RISE ( Rice Initiative for the Study of Economics ) Nobel Laureate Lecture Series this fall , with the tenth in our series of lectures by recipients of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel ( just in case you were wondering !). As described in detail below , the lecture features Professor James J . Heckman , who is the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service
Professor in Economics at the University of Chicago and the winner of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Economics . We are also delighted to report that our Nobel Laureate Lecture Series has been funded in perpetuity by a generous gift from Trustee Emeritus and Rice alum Doyle Arnold (’ 70 ), who is highlighted in this newsletter .
In addition to our longstanding ECON and MTEC majors , the Economics Department is now the home of the new MEOS ( Managerial Economics and Organizational Sciences ) major , a standalone major that replaces the MANA ( Managerial Studies ) major that was available only as a second major . For details about the new major and the transition from MANA to MEOS , see the interview with our Director of Undergraduate Studies , Mallesh Pai , in this issue .
Hope the rest of your semester goes well , George Zodrow
Chair , Department of Economics
Yunmi Kong Receives Young Scholar Award
Assistant Professor of Economics Yunmi Kong is the 2022 recipient of a Korea-America Economic Association ( KAEA ) Young Scholar Award . The award is given annually to one or two members of the KAEA who are within seven years of receiving their Ph . D . and have demonstrated both outstanding scholarly performance and great potential for future innovative research through their publications in leading journals in Economics and related fields . The award will be presented at the virtual annual meeting of the KAEA in January .
Yunmi joined the Rice faculty in 2016 after receiving her Ph . D . from New York University . Her research interests include empirical industrial organization and applied microeconometrics . Her latest work focuses on the empirical analysis of auctions including applications to the leasing of oil and gas tracts . For example , in an article that appeared in the January 2021 issue of the Journal of Political Economy ( one of the top three journals in Economics ), entitled “ Sequential Auctions with Synergy and Affiliation across Auctions ,” Yunmi examined the choice between ( 1 ) bundling multiple items in a government auction program to realize synergies between them , and ( 2 ) selling them sequentially so that the items can potentially be allocated to different bidders . She developed a method to extract from bidding behavior in sequential auctions the extent of synergy between auction items , and applied this method to analyze state auctions of oil leases in New Mexico . Yunmi found that while bundled auctions would increase revenue for the government , the synergy between leases is not sufficiently high for bundled auctions to improve allocative efficiency ; that is , bundled auctions would make it less likely that each lease is allocated to the firm that values it the most . Another paper , published in August 2020 in the Rand Journal of Economics , examined the implications of low competition for auction design . In that analysis , Yunmi found that using first-price sealed-bid auctions rather than open ascending auctions can substantially mitigate the revenue reductions to the government attributable to low competition among bidders .
The KAEA Young Scholar Award complements nicely another award Yunmi received several years ago – the 2018 Malcolm Gillis Award for Distinction in Undergraduate Teaching in Economics , which recognized her outstanding performance in teaching our course in Applied Econometrics ( ECON 209 ).