News & Updates

Faculty Reflections on Remote Teaching & Amazing Students

What happens to teaching at a traditional residential college during the Spring 2020 semester when suddenly, in a period of 2 weeks, the faculty has to pivot from in-person to remote teaching?

Here are reflections on remote teaching and learning from the CBE Faculty:

Chris Allison, Entrepreneur in Residence, CBE Co-Director

“Remotely teaching Business Literacy and the Economics of Entrepreneurship II using a synchronous method went well for two reasons.  First, we met during our regular class time and worked together in the same manner as we did when classes met in person.  My students really responded well.  Class participation and attendance was excellent.  Second, we modified content to fit the moment.  We studied how businesses are responding to the pandemic; how public health officials and business leaders worked together to combat other outbreaks, such as Ebola; health science startups as well as vaccine and drug development.”

— Chris Allison ’83, Entrepreneur in Residence, CBE Co-Director


 

Tomas Nonnenmacher, Professor of Economics, CBE Co-Director“I was very proud of the effort made by my colleagues and students to do the quick transition to remote teaching. The students had to juggle parents, pets, siblings, and other distractions — sometimes quite substantial — to keep engaged in the class material. We continued to have class three times a week over Google Meet, and attendance and overall participation were very high.”

–Tomas Nonnenmacher ’90, Patricia Bush Tippie Professor of Economics, CBE Co-Director


 

“Nothing is constant but change. Teaching remotely was a challenging experience, because while students were experimenting with remote teaching, they were emotionally facing a disruptive time. But it is the way you look at things that can change the things themselves. In my marketing classes, we follow the flow of change, and we acquire new content, tools and methodologies that will be helpful in the coming new business environment.”

–Gaia Rancati, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Marketing and Neuromarketing, Visiting Professor IULM University Milan


 

Russ Ormiston“While those first couple weeks were especially hectic for everyone, I was so proud of how our students responded. Despite dealing with difficult circumstances and challenges, students almost universally remained engaged and focused through the end of the semester. Their ability to persevere–and complete excellent work–in the middle of a pandemic was remarkable.”

–Russell Ormiston, Associate Professor; President, Institute for Construction Economic Research


 

Professor Timothy Bianco“Remote learning was obviously not my students’ preferred method to end the Spring semester, especially for the Seniors. Their positive attitudes and eagerness to continue learning is something that ought to be commended. Unlike some of my colleagues, I took an asynchronous approach to remote learning. This was borne out of necessity because I had many international students, but the response that I received was overwhelmingly positive.”

–Timothy Bianco, Associate Professor, CBE Co-Director


 

Questions? Feel free to contact us at cbe@allegheny.edu

The Center for Business & Economics attracts Allegheny’s next generation of business innovators and entrepreneurs by providing a host of co-curricular activities that connect with and deepen their classroom experiences.

 

Allegheny Graduate Greg Merz Helps Track Down Coronavirus Therapies

Dr. Greg Merz is hot on the trail of a killer. He spends most of his workday watching proteins interact with one another, usually eavesdropping on this give-and-take on his computer screen with the help of a cryo-electron microscope.

Merz, a 2010 Allegheny College graduate, conducts his observations and research at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), and the killer he’s trying to put under wraps is the novel coronavirus.

Dr. Greg Merz, a 2010 Allegheny graduate, conducts coronavirus research at the University of California at San Francisco.
Dr. Greg Merz, a 2010 Allegheny graduate, conducts coronavirus research at the University of California at San Francisco.

Merz originally headed west after completing his Ph.D. at Cornell University. He wanted to get involved in research to develop therapies for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. That was until this past March when he was called in to help develop medicines to curtail COVID-19. He is now a member of the Quantitative Biosciences Institute Coronavirus Research Group, which is a task force led by more than 20 faculty members and their research groups at UCSF. It includes experts in virology, cell biology, structural biology, computational biology and drug discovery.

“As a whole, we are focused on finding therapeutics for COVID-19, specifically by disrupting the replication cycle of the virus,” says Merz.

A virus replicates by forcing its genetic material into a host (human) cell, which is followed by the synthesis of viral proteins, Merz explains. Viral proteins interact with human proteins, and these interactions allow the virus to hijack host cells, which in turn allows the virus to replicate and spread. So far, the research group has mapped over 300 of these viral/human protein interactions.

“One main goal of the group is to design and develop compounds which disrupt key viral-host protein interactions, thereby prohibiting the virus from replicating and eliminating COVID from the body,” says Merz, who was a double major in chemistry and economics at Allegheny.

The group’s work was featured in an April 30 article in the San Francisco Chronicle that focused on the team’s valuable discoveries related to COVID-19 therapies.

“My specific research is in the Structural Biology Consortium or the structural biology subgroup. Our aim is two-fold: First, we want to understand in detail the structures of the viral and human proteins and how they interact at the atomic level — that is, which parts of each protein are interacting, and how are the individual atoms arranged in these interactions,” Merz explains. “Once we understand how these proteins interact structurally, we can design potential drugs to break those interactions and thus disrupt the life cycle of the virus. The second aim is to structurally characterize already developed potential drugs, in order to understand how they bind to their targets. This information is very useful for those designing and optimizing therapeutics, and can lead to greatly increased potency for already promising drug candidates.”

Merz is a member of one of the teams expressing proteins (protein expression refers to the way in which proteins are synthesized, modified and regulated in living organisms), and he also is on a group that oversees the collection and data processing for cryo-electron microscopy. “So I’m able to contribute at the beginning of the process and then again at the end,” he says.

Says Merz, who is originally from Rochester, New York: “On a very basic level, I wouldn’t be working on COVID research today if it wasn’t for my experiences at Allegheny. I developed my passion for lab work while doing summer research and then my comp under Dr. Marty Serra, and this set me on my way toward graduate school and ultimately my current post-doctoral position. One of the many insights that Dr. Serra taught me during my time in his lab was that it’s important to be able to communicate to a wide range of audiences. He was always adamant that we not only present to scientific audiences, but to the general public as well, and I really think this has served me well during the pandemic. (Watch Merz talk about how his Allegheny education has aided in his research by clicking here.)

“On a very basic level, I wouldn’t be working on COVID research today if it wasn’t for my experiences at Allegheny,
“On a very basic level, I wouldn’t be working on COVID research today if it wasn’t for my experiences at Allegheny,” says Greg Merz.

“Being a double major also helped me to understand the non-medical factors surrounding the pandemic,” says Merz. “People aren’t only suffering because they are sick or know someone who is sick. Many have lost their jobs or are fearful about losing their job, are worried about paying the rent or providing for their families. Having a background in economics gives me a good platform to analyze the non-medical impacts COVID has had on our world, and analyze the balancing act of social distancing and keeping things shut down against getting folks back to work and the economy up and running again.”

Merz says that on most days he goes to work at the UCSF laboratory. “Obviously going to work is less safe than working remotely, but with lab work this is not an option,” he says.

Each person has to complete a daily health screen before coming to work on the UCSF campus, he says. “For transportation to work, we are not allowed to take any form of transportation where we might come into close contact with people outside of our own homes, such as public transportation, rideshare or carpooling. I have been biking to work, others drive themselves, and those who live close by walk,” says Merz. “I also think that maintaining mental health during this time is just as important as maintaining physical health, so I’ve been mindful of that as well. I’ve really been focusing on trying to get enough sleep and exercising on the days when I’m not biking to work.”

Merz says perhaps his toughest challenge is being able to “shut off my brain,” to stop focusing on work. “There is so much exciting research to be done, so many interesting ideas to follow up on, that you really want to be involved in all of it, when that’s not really possible. And there are so many talented scientists, from areas that I don’t know too much about, who push me by asking questions about my areas of expertise, or challenge me to learn new concepts, that I feel that I need to do a lot of learning to keep up. Not that I need any more of a push to work, but every day I’m trying to keep up with current events, and it’s been dominated by COVID coverage.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Teaching and Learning in the COVID-19 Era

Opening remarks to the alumni, students and faculty by Stephen Z. Onyeiwu, PhD. Chair, Business and Economics Department, reprinted from the Center for Business & Economics Spring/Summer 2020 Newsletter

 Focusing on  adjusting to the new reality of COVID-19

Allegheny Economics Research Team from left: Dr. Onyeiwu, Gillian Greene '20 and Matthew Massucci '20
Dr. Onyeiwu with students Gillian Greene ’20 and Matthew Massucci ’20

I’m sure you are wondering how we are coping with the pandemic in the Business and Economics Department at Allegheny. Right after the spring break in late March, we transitioned into remote teaching and worked from home until the end of June. The transition was very challenging initially, especially for a college that has for many years developed a reputation as a unique residential institution.

Teaching remotely is an unforgettable experience for most of us. We have always cherished being in the classroom with our students, having in-person conversations, organizing case presentations, pacing up and down the room, and gesturing to drive home our points. With remote teaching, it was a very different experience when we sat alone and repeatedly viewed computer screens, not knowing how attentive the students were. But we adapted to the new reality, and did our best to deliver the same learning outcomes as in-person teaching. I missed seeing my students follow me to my office to continue with classroom conversations, as well as having one-on-one meetings with advisees.

Despite its challenges, COVID offered an opportunity for my colleagues and me to reinforce our teaching. In many cases, the pandemic helped to provide evidence about what works or doesn’t work in the economy and the business world. Some propositions in economics and business textbooks became controversial and questionable because of the pandemic. COVID-19 turned out to be a goldmine for my International Business course. A few weeks before the pandemic, we covered a chapter on global supply-chain risks. I sensed that students regarded that chapter as one of those textbook topics that have no instrumental value. A few weeks later, however, I could not keep their mouths shut when they began proposing strategies for mitigating COVID-induced supply-chain risks.

Then, the concept of “too-big-to-fail” cropped up. As the Trump administration struggled to cobble together a stimulus plan, the students were ecstatic: which corporations should be supported and which should be allowed to fail? What criteria should economists and policy-makers use in determining which businesses to save? Will the US dollar appreciate or depreciate as a result of COVID, and what are the implications for international trade and capital flows? Is this a good time for “beggar-thy-neighbor” policies of protectionism? Will globalism become anachronistic?   What should be the role of the World Trade Organization, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in blunting the economic impact of the pandemic? So many controversial and intriguing issues!

Students in my seminar on development economics were perhaps the most vociferous about the implications of COVID-19. They questioned the tendency by economists to focus too much on economic growth as the key measure of economic progress. If we value our health this much, with all the lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, scramble for increasingly scarce face masks, ventilators, test-kits, etc., then we need to begin to de-emphasize economic growth and prioritize healthcare as an important indicator of development. There will be a lot of soul-searching in the economics and business professions about why we seem to be ill-prepared for the health and economic ramifications of the pandemic. Perhaps we might see the emergence of a new paradigm for managing exogenous shocks, reminiscent of the introduction of Keynesianism during the great depression.

Barring unforeseen trends in COVID-19, Allegheny is planning to reopen for the fall semester on August 31. We are planning to teach both remotely and in-person. You can be sure that COVID will continue to feature prominently in the classroom, as students and faculty discuss its impact and how best to mitigate its consequences.

Questions? Feel free to contact us at cbe@allegheny.edu

The Center for Business & Economics attracts Allegheny’s next generation of business innovators and entrepreneurs by providing a host of co-curricular activities that connect with and deepen their classroom experiences.

 

 

 

 

 

Allegheny College Meets the Bloomberg Trading Challenge

Wealth Management Club members Trevor Day ‘20, Rafael Balanquet ‘20, and John Nagel ‘20 teamed up to enter the 2020 Bloomberg Trading Challenge.  Although the Challenge was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team had a fantastic run, ranking 4th on the leaderboard at the end of week 5.  Michael Michaelides, Assistant Professor of Economics and Faculty Advisor to the club, commented, “this performance is impressive, given that a couple of hundred teams and universities participate in this challenge.”

Student Trevor Day ’20 appreciated this opportunity, sharing these thoughts:

“I took on the Bloomberg Trading Challenge because it was something that interested me, but I’ve really begun to see the value of it as potential employers keep asking me questions about the trading challenge, the strategies I used, and Bloomberg Market Concepts. In the current job market, it is an ace up my sleeve that is distinguishing me as a job candidate.”

The Bloomberg Trading Challenge, How It Works

Students create 3-5 member portfolio teams and develop a strategy based on their own market assumptions. The team uses the Bloomberg Terminal to define the assumptions, develop a return-generating strategy, and execute trades over a closed network. The team has $1 million notional amount to invest across any number of securities. The team that generates the highest return relative to a pre-selected benchmark and presents the best investment methodology at the end of the Challenge is the winning team.

Allegheny College Wealth Management Club

The Wealth Management Club is designed to be a collaborative environment in which students can openly discuss and learn about topics relating to personal finance. The club invites guest speakers, uses simulations, and performs individual research in order to educate members about personal finance topics and learn how to get a head start on managing their own money.

For more information, visit The Bloomberg Lab at Allegheny College.

The Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business & Economics attracts Allegheny’s next generation of business innovators and entrepreneurs by providing a host of co-curricular activities that connect with and deepen their classroom experiences.

Meet The Fellows: Rachel Tobler ’21

Rachel will graduate in 2021 as an Economics major with a Spanish/Political Science double minor.  This fall, Rachel will begin her second year serving as a Fellow.

What’s it like to serve the Business & Economics department as a Fellow?  Here’s what Rachel had to say:

“Serving as a CBE Fellow this year opened the door to me to work alongside the business and economics faculty, along with the speakers we bring in, bettering my networking, organization, and public speaking skills.

As for next year, though we don’t know what will come of the fall semester, as Fellows we hope to work with current students, connecting them to experts and alumni to help guide them through this uncertainty. We will hold office hours in a new initiative to meet personally with students, giving them the resource to navigate business and economics at Allegheny and beyond.”

The Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business and Economics Fellows are a select group of motivated students that function as a leadership team to support CBE programming and act as student ambassadors.

Congratulations to Jerfenson Cerda Mejia and Sharlyne Cabral!

The 2019 Financial Literacy Challenge winners circle – see more photos of the Challenge here; The next challenge will be held on December 5, 2020

Congratulations to Jerfenson Cerda Mejia and Sharlyne Cabral who placed in the top ten in the 2020 CFA Society of Pittsburgh Financial Plan Competition!  These two first prize winners in this year’s Financial Literacy Competition in December went on to compete with 200 students from colleges and universities throughout Pennsylvania!

The CFA Society of Pittsburgh Collegiate Personal Financial Planning Competition is available to students from Pennsylvania’s academic institutions. Each student enters a financial plan that serves as a road map to help students plan for and achieve their financial goals. Through this program, the CFA Society of Pittsburgh hopes to help students take ownership of their financial future.

Gene Natali, CFA, CEO & Cofounder of Troutwood commented, “This year’s CFASP collegiate financial plan competition was extremely difficult to grade.  This is because ALL of the financial plans submitted were exceptional!  Every student that went through this effort will likely be better off because of it. Congratulations Jerfenson and Sharlyne on a job well done.  Now go do it!”

Jerfenson and Sharlyne were winners in the December 2019 Financial Literacy Challenge.  The Financial Literacy Challenge is a competition in which students develop and present a personal financial budget and investing plan appropriate for life after graduation. The competition is open to all Allegheny students, however participation in the challenge is a mandatory assignment for students taking ECON 010 – Financial Literacy. There are $5,000 in prizes and trophies awarded to student winners. The next competition will be held on December 5, 2020

The Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business & Economics attracts Allegheny’s next generation of business innovators and entrepreneurs by providing a host of co-curricular activities that connect with and deepen their classroom experiences.

 

Meet The Fellows: Shannon Putnam ’20

Shannon Putnam '20Shannon will graduate this year as an Economics major and Education Studies minor after serving as a Fellow her senior year. What’s it like to serve the Business & Economics department as a Fellow?  Here’s what Shannon had to say:

“Having the opportunity to be a Fellow as played a major impact on my senior year at Allegheny. It has allowed me to create stronger connections with everyone within Quigley Hall which has become like a home to me over the past four years. Being a Fellow has also vastly improved my networking, public speaking, and time management skills. Being a Fellow is something that has made my Allegheny career so special and I will look back on this time with great fondness. ”

The Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business and Economics Fellows are a select group of motivated students that function as a leadership team to support CBE programming and act as student ambassadors.

Celebrating 2020 Graduates in Economics

As the spring semester comes to a close, we are pleased congratulate the class of 2020.  Department Chair, Dr. Stephen Onyeiwu expressed these best wishes on behalf of the faculty and staff of the Center for Business & Economics, “We are very delighted you made it, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19. You’re truly a resilient and an indefatigable class. Congratulations!”

Ben Bachik Trevor Day Andrew Kirn Taylor Renk
Rafael Balanquet Garrett Fenton Sungho Lee Carlos Sanchez
Michael Bartley Christian Geer Nicole Luoma Haley Seifert
Matthew Bauer Gillian Greene Matt Massucci Jared Shaw
Autumn Bicko Austin Hoyt Ermona Michael Hailey Shull
Emma Black Ukasha Javed Ryan Miller Scott Steiner
Cassie Brown Justin Katchur Rachel Montgomery Anh Ta
Zack Casagrande Sean Kealey John Nagel Graham Tufts
Moises Colomer Jacqueline Kelley-Cogdell Brendan O’Toole Brendon Urso
Robert Crowe Bret Kelly Zack Pateras Andrew Vincent
Fabian Cuen Camacho Omar Khan Shannon Putnam Liam Wilby

Meet the Fellows – Trevor Day ’20

Trevor Day '20Trevor will graduate this year as an Economics major and  Communication Arts minor after serving as a Fellow for two years.  What’s it like to serve the Business & Economics department as a Fellow?  Here’s what Trevor had to say:

“The CBE Fellowship has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my college career. The CBE has given me not only the experience, but the confidence to interact with alumni and faculty in a professional manner. The Economics Department and the CBE are two of the things I will miss the most as I graduate, but I know that I will be successful no matter where my career takes me due to my experiences as a Fellow.”

The Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business and Economics Fellows are a select group of motivated students that function as a leadership team to support CBE programming and act as student ambassadors.

Celebrating 2020 Student Honors in Economics

Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business & EconomicsThis spring, we honor the 2020 Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business & Economics students who have earned honors in the field of economics.   The honors designation is awarded to students whose exemplary performance in academics distinguishes them as young professionals as they graduate and move on to their next great adventure.

According to Stephen Onyeiwu, Ph.D., Department Chair, ”the Economics Department awards honors to students who have earned a minimum GPA of 3.5 in Economics, and at least a B+ in both the senior project and senior seminar plus an A- in one of these two. These are very high standards, and the department is delighted that a large number of the class of 2020 have received honors in Economics. Congratulations to our honorees for their stellar accomplishments, and we wish them success in their future endeavors.”

The following  class of 2020 students have earned the department’s special honors:

The Prize of Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants is awarded for excellence in accounting studies. This prize is awarded to Keith Irvin ‘20.

The Economics Senior Project Prize is awarded for the best senior project assigned annually by the Department of Economics to encourage understanding and good scholarship.  This prize is awarded to Jacqueline Kelley-Cogdell ’20.

The Graduate Student’s Prize in Economics  is awarded to seniors whose achievement has been outstanding, and whose promise as a graduate student is substantial. This prize is awarded to both Matt Massucci ’20 and Graham Tufts ’20.

The Outstanding Achievement Prize in Economics is given to seniors with an outstanding record in economics and their positive contribution to the vitality of the department. This prize is awarded to both Emma Black ’20 and Jacqueline Kelley-Cogdell ’20.

The Outstanding Junior Major Prize is awarded for exceptional academic achievement, performance in the seminar, and their positive contribution to the vitality of the department.  This prize is awarded to Rachel Tobler ’21.

The following Senior projects have earned Honors recognition:

Rafael Balanquet “The Effect of the Slope of the Treasury Yield Curve on Private Nonresidential Fixed Investment in the United States’ Economy”
Matthew Bauer “The Influence of the Tobacco Industry on State Legislatures’ Tobacco Control Laws”
Autumn Bicko (Sliker-Parker) “The Failing Market of the Education System Under School Choice”
Emma  Black “The Effects of Female Representation on the Gender Wage Gap”
Trevor Day “Stock Market Seasonality: An Empirical Analysis Using the CAPM”
Christian Geer “Exploring the Predictive Power of Twitter Sentiment on Stock Price Movements”
Gillian Greene “Reliable Recipients? When Rent-Seeking Behaviors Complicate Counterterrorism Efforts”
Ukasha Javed “Determinants of Economic Growth In Developing and Developed Countries”
Sean Kealey “The Driving Forces Behind Mergers, Acquisitions and Joint Ventures Between Macrobrewers in the 21st Century”
Jacqueline Kelley-Cogdell “The Economic Impacts of Rural Public Transportation”
Bret Kelly “The Impacts of Ethics on Principal-Agent Problems  and Corporate Performance”
Matt Massucci “An Analysis of the Change in the Market Structure of the Tooling and Machining Industry in Crawford County, Pennsylvania”
John Nagel “Potential Factors that Impact Hotel Revenue in Belize”
Haley Seifert “Does Knowing a Second Language Affect Income?”
Anh Ta “The Road to Zero: Regulating Carbon Emissions”
Liam Wilby “An Empirical Investigation into England National Sporting Teams Impact on the FTSE100 Market Index”
Graham Tufts “Nothing New Under the Sun: The Origins and Effects of the Chicago Boys Neoliberalism”

Congratulations to these outstanding students! #AlleghenyStrong

The Bruce R. Thompson Center for Business & Economics attracts Allegheny’s next generation of business innovators and entrepreneurs by providing a host of co-curricular activities that connect with and deepen their classroom experiences.