2024 Economics Newsletter

Two Economics students smiling and writing in a classroom with text overlay: Department of Economics

Message from the Chair
Department Spotlights
Department Kudos
Alumni Class Notes

Message from the Chair

Stephen Smith, Department Chair

Dear GW Department of Economics alumni,

Welcome to the 2024 GW Department of Economics newsletter!

These newsletters allow us to share developments at the department, feature milestones of our students, and highlight some of the special achievements of alumni, current and graduating students, and our faculty. 

The department continues to build on strengths in key areas. We are in an excellent position to build upon our current projects and activities, and to launch new initiatives. As you will see in the Department Kudos below, in the last year our faculty have published in the top journals in Economics, and are having a major impact through their contributions to economic analysis and policy.

Throughout the year, the department has maintained an active program of weekly research events, sponsored by our four major research workshop series: Microeconomics; Macro /International; Trade and Development; and Forecasting. We also co-sponsored several economics conferences and symposia. We welcome you to join us at our events in the coming year!

We are keeping our classes updated with the latest key topics and findings, as you will see on our department course listings webpage. We are offering new courses that include the Economics of Personal Finance (taught for the first time in the Spring 2024 semester); the Economics of Slavery (taught for the first time in Fall 2023); the Economics of Outer Space (introduced two years ago); and Behavioral Economics (to be taught for the first time in Spring 2025).

On behalf of the Economics Department, I would like to express our deep gratitude to our alumni whose generous donations have contributed to the success of our students and our academic and research programs.

We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in the coming year. Thank you so much for your support and involvement, and please stay in touch!


Stephen C. Smith
Chair, Department of Economics

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Department Spotlights


MS in Applied Economics students Varsh Narasimhan, Naïssa Pierre and Emanuel Obro presenting their research on institutional strength and climate governance.

2024 CCAS Research Showcase!

The Columbian College of Arts and Sciences' (CCAS) Research Showcase is an opportunity for all graduate and undergraduate students in CCAS programs to submit their proposals to present their research and scholarship in a poster session to the broader CCAS community. This year some of our bright undergraduate and graduate students from the Department of Economics were selected to present their research! Economics PhD students Kathryn Blanchard, Prerna Dokania, and Shatakshi Gupta; graduating Master of Science in Applied Economics students Varsh Narasimhan, Naissa Pierre, and Emanuel Obro; and graduating undergraduate Economics students Sara Alassaf, Jack Gaumer, and Annabel Hazrati all did an outstanding job representing the Department of Economics. Take a closer look at the research our students presented (PDF)! We are incredibly proud of the work they have accomplished and look forward to seeing their future achievements!

Econ alums Atticus Francken (top right) and Brandon Kuma (bottom right) featured in Forbes 30 under 30.

Economics Alumni Named to Forbes 30 Under 30 List

Economics alumni Atticus Francken, B.S. ’16 and Brandon Kumar, B.A. ’16 were among those cited in this year’s Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list of young professionals who are making their mark. Francken serves as president and cofounder of Econergy, a renewable energy company established in 2018 with the mission of addressing the climate crisis. It is now the leading non-utility provider of energy for schools nationwide. Kumar is a cofounder of Layer3, an educational platform designed to guide individuals in the use and investment of cryptocurrency. Prior to establishing Layer3, Kumar served as an associate at Accolade Partners, a venture capital firm. Read more about Francken.

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Department Kudos

Paul Carrillo published a paper in the highly regarded American Economic Review: Insights, where it was the lead article for the December issue.

Barry Chiswick published a paper in Cliometrica, jointly with alumna RaeAnn Robinson, PhD’19.. 

Alessandra Fenizia recently had a paper accepted at the American Economic Review, widely considered the top journal in economics. 

Remi Jedwab published co authored papers in the Journal of Economic Geography; and the American Economic Journal - Macroeconomics (one of the coauthors on this paper is Nobel Laureate Paul Romer; another is Roberto Samaniego).

Sumit Joshi published a co-authored article in the Journal of Economic Theory - the leading scholarly journal in the field of economic theory.

Roberto Samaniego published refereed papers in the print versions in two highly regarded and ranked journals: the International Economic Review (joint with Alicia H. Dang PhD’20 student); and the American Economic Journal - Macroeconomics (one of the coauthors on this paper is Nobel Laureate Paul Romer; another is Remi Jedwab). 

Jay Shambaugh is on government service leave, serving as Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, having received Senate confirmation following his appointment by President Biden. This top U.S. government position was previously held by other luminaries such as Paul Volcker, John Taylor, Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers.

Tara Sinclair is on government service leave, serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Macroeconomics in the Office of Economic Policy at the Department of Treasury. She also published papers in the highly regarded Journal of Applied Econometrics, and the prestigious AEA Papers and Proceedings. 

Our class of 2024 PhD students on the job market received placements as research economists at a wide range of tenure tracks, international organizations, U.S. government agencies, financial institutions and think tank positions, including Xinxin Cao who is at St. Lawrence University; Jonah Coste, Federal Housing Finance Agency; Peter Devine, Council on Foreign Relations: International Affairs; Nathaniel Harris. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; Gonzalo Huertas, International Monetary Fund; Jeffrey Kuo, Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research; Bozhen Liu, JINAN University (暨南大学); Yunsheng Ma, Capital One; Rully Prassetya, World Bank; Xiaoying Yang, Shenzhen MSU-BIT University; and Zheyu Yang, Moody's Analytics. 

The Inaugural Washington Area Network Economics Symposium (WANES) conference was held September 8, 2023. The conference was co-sponsored with the GW Department of Economics and highlighted academic work from researchers at leading economics institutions in network economics in the Washington DC area. 

Effective July 2023, Weihua Zhao (PhD 2016) was promoted to associate professor with tenure at the University of Louisville Department of Economics, Louisville, KY. Effective July 2024, Amy Guisinger (PhD 2016) was promoted to associate professor with tenure at Lafayette College in Easton, PA.

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Alumni Class Notes


Brian Ackerman, BA ’08, is a psychotherapist in private practice in New York City specializing in EMDR trauma therapy and working with LGBTQ people, couples/relationships and those navigating life transitions.

Hamid Alavi, PhD ’88, joined the World Bank in 1990 and retired in 2015 to start his consulting firm. He manages programs and projects in East Asia and Middle East and North Africa.

Daniel Barkan, BA ’22, is in his second year at Columbia Law School.

Yacouba Fassassi, PhD ’90, is a senior economist of the International Monetary Fund.. 

Sanjay Gupta, BA ’83, has been appointed chief investment officer of Moonfare, a digital private equity asset manager. Sanjay is based in London.

Kyle Hanlon, BA ’18, was just promoted to senior FP&A associate at Geller & Company.

Monica Huddleston, BA ’75, has been retired from SBC/AT&T since 2000 after 25 plus years. After two terms as Mayor of her municipality, City of Greendale, MO, she retired from public service as well. 

Harpaul Kohli, MS ’20, is working at the Emerging Markets Forum as Senior Economist, doing econometric & statistical modeling. He is also CEO of the Abora Music Group & DJs as Ori Uplift, and also works on his brother-in-law's Congressional campaign for NY-19.



Cameron Pippitt, MA ’68, retired from the US Foreign Service in 1999 following a career with the Agency for International Development. He served in Nigeria, Niger, the Ivory Coast, the Philippines and Albania as well as in Washington, DC.

Mark Smith, MA ’88, is a vice president at Sellers Dorsey, a national healthcare consulting firm in the Medicaid space headquartered in Philadelphia. He is a hockey dad and his son is a college freshman at Milwaukee School of Engineering.

Daniel Uslander, BA ’77, is a commodity futures broker specializing in industrial metals and foreign exchange. He now adds to his portfolio project development in the area of biochar production and distribution.

Weihua Zhao, PhD ’16, was promoted to associate professor with tenure at the University of Louisville Department of Economics.

Linsie Zou, MS ’23, is currently interning with The Hamilton Project at The Brookings Institute while pursuing a Graduate Certificate in Data Science at GW. She is scheduled to begin an analyst position with Deloitte this upcoming summer.


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