Rice Economics Fall 2021 Newsletter

News and Views from the Economics Department at Rice
Yunmi Kong Receives Young Scholar Award
Fall 2021


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 .
Finally , if you are interested in what your instructors have been doing lately , our department website now features a listing of recent faculty achievements . And if you haven ’ t visited the website recently , you might take a look at our listing of various student opportunities , as well as some pointers on conducting research in economics , and on getting your work published in undergraduate economics journals .
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 ).