Assistant Professor, Resource Economics
Describe your proudest moment as a teacher.
My proudest moment as a teacher came when I helped an undergrad student to get an A in a college‑level mathematics course. She was diagnosed as having a learning disability in high school and never passed the requisite math courses‑‑she did get a GED later. I don’t believe she ever had a learning disability but rather “math phobia” which is psychological not physiological. I still have a photo she gave me of her pug named Buzz sleeping next to her math textbook and calculator in my office today.
What do students like best about your classes?
I hope the students like the interesting facts about energy economics that I try to present in almost every class. For example, did you know that the US is the third largest producer of crude oil in the world? Or did you know that Canada is the largest supplier of crude oil to the US?
What makes the learning experience in the Davis College stand out?
Our faculty has a diversity of research interests so our students are not just going to get standard theory crammed down their throats. Instead, our students should expect to gain insight into theory through applied empirical examples which generally span multiple disciplines.
What do you enjoy most about teaching in the Davis College?
I enjoy the diversity of students we get in the college. In one course I may have someone from plant biology, animal science, engineering, resource economics, etc. Each of these persons brings a unique perspective and contribution to the course. It also keeps me on my toes.
What opportunities are available for students to participate in research or creative projects?
There are always research opportunities for graduate students and even some undergrads, particularly those students seeking an advanced degree. As far as creative projects, I always ask for students (working in groups) in my classes to present research projects on various energy topics. For example, I may ask for a group to form and defend a policy prescription for our country’s future energy supply; e.g., should we dedicate more resources towards natural gas?
In what ways do students contribute to your research area?
There are a lot of areas of research that I would like to get engaged in but unfortunately I have only so much time or resources. So if a student approaches me and wants to collaborate on a research project then I will give him or her some of my ideas (i.e., if he or she has none initially). That way I can extend my own research agenda (students contribute to my research area), and I help the student develop his or her own agenda at the same time. It’s a win‑win situation.
List some qualities/characteristics of successful students in your program?
The qualities/characteristics of a successful student boils down to one essential quality‑‑curiosity. If a student lacks the curiosity to learn a new subject, such as energy economics, then s/he will simply be going through the motions. A student can still do well in terms of grades for my classes, but without curiosity nothing substantial will be gained from our program.
What advice would you give future students?
Success in college is basically like success in any other endeavor. If you simply show up to class everyday and stay moderately engaged then you can pass the course. If you don’t show up to work or put forward any moderate effort at work then you could be fired. So start to develop good habits in college ‑‑ these habits should extend into your careers as well.
Why is your area of expertise important? Also, why should students choose to study it?
Economics is a social science concerned with the efficient allocation of a scarce resource for satisfying unlimited wants. What better topic to be applied to economics than energy? With a limited supply of fossil fuels and unlimited wants (especially from growing wants in developing countries such as China and India), this subject should be of interest to each and every student within the University. Imagine not being able to fly in a jet‑engine plane to visit distant relatives. Or imagine a loaf of bread that costs $10 because the grain grower cannot afford petroleum‑based fertilizers. We all face the same challenging future. The question is not “why” students should choose this study but rather “why not”...
What do you like about living in West Virginia/ Morgantown?
I like Morgantown because whatever this town lacks in resources it makes up three fold in terms of community. We are amazed how genuinely friendly the local people here are. We’ve only been here a short time but it’s already starting to feel like home.