Student & Alumni Activities and Achievements

MSU Economics Students Present Original research at a Major Research Conference for the First Time

With a grant provided by the College Incentive Initiatives program, a group of economics students at MSU presented their research papers at a session comprised of MSU students at the Missouri Valley Economics Association conference held at Kansas City from October 25-27, 2007. This was the first time that MSU economics students presented their research at a professional conference.


A unique aspect of the students’ presentations was that the session they presented at was the only undergraduate student session at the conference. The session was organized by Dr. Sharmistha Self (ECO) from the department of economics who also chaired the session. Other than being the only undergraduate session at the conference, this was the only session where all of the presenters came from a single university. This allowed for four students from the economics department to present their papers together. The papers were selected from an excellent pool of submissions and responses to a call for papers organized by Dr. Self in late fall of last year and in early spring this year.

ECO Student PresentersThe presenters were Preston Kyle Harmon (CO2 Emissions and Income: Examining the “Inverted-U Hypothesis”),Ashley Newton (An Evaluation of Individual Savings Accounts’ Collective Impact on Personal Financial Security and National Growth), Chrisy Lam (China’s Growth and its Effect on Vietnam’s Trade), and Doug Brown (The Effects of Steroid Use on Major League Baseball Attendance).These students presented original research papers which served as excellent examples of the depth of research being done at our university as well as a wide range of topics students are currently researching. The papers were very well received by the discussants as well as others who attended the session.

The papers were discussed by Economics faculty from Southeastern Louisiana, Wichita State, Texas Tech, and University of Northern Iowa respectively. Self had contacted the discussants in advance when she sent them the students’ papers. She had informed them that the presenters were undergraduate students. However the depth of the research and the professionalism of the presentations took the discussants by surprise. Each of the discussants made special mention of how impressed they were with the papers and the presentations. Other than the presenters, several other economics students from MSU also attended the conference and the student session.

On one final note, the conference president contacted Professor Self after the conference to let her know that he had met with several of the students and was very impressed by them. This session gave MSU in general and the economics department in particular a lot of positive exposure.

Three MSU History Graduate Students take special non-credit course in learning the Ancient Aztec Language (Classical Nahuatl)

Classical NahuatlThis semester three History M.A. graduate students, Cody Wilson (HST), Erika Nelson (HST), and Tim Scego (HST) are participating in a non-credit intensive weekly workshop with Dr. John F. Chuchiak (HST) in order to learn the Classical Nahuatl language.Classical Nahuatl was the language spoken by the ancient Aztecs of Mexico in the days of the Aztec Empire. Before the arrival of the Europeans, Classical Nahuatl was written by a partially ideographic writing system. After the arrival of the Spanish, the Spanish priests devised an alphabet based on the letters of Spanish and Latin, and that orthography, or some specialized version of it, is still used by many who study and write about Classical Nahuatl.

At the time of contact with the Spanish, Classical Nahuatl functioned as a lingua franca for other, non-Nahuatl-speaking ethnic groups. It is also particularly important to scholars because it is the earliest form of the Aztec language in which we have written documents and of which we have contemporary descriptions. The study of Classical Nahuatl has occupied philologists and historians over several centuries, and much work continues to be done on it. These three MSU graduate students have chosen to study this language in order to pursue graduate research for their M.A. Thesis projects.

Religious Studies M.A. Graduate Student’s Passion for the Study of Religion Leads him to Harvard

DoakSince graduating from Missouri State University in 2004 with an M.A. in Religious Studies, Brian Doak has had many exciting academic and personal experiences. He and his wife moved from Springfield to Somerville, MA so that he could begin Ph.D. studies at Harvard University (Hebrew Bible, through the department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations).

Although his current Ph.D. advisor Professor Peter Machinist has been an excellent guide on many levels, Brian found out that in every class he has taken at Harvard, the work he did at Missouri State during his two years of graduate study and two subsequent years of per-course work as an instructor in the Religious Studies and Classics departments gave him a strong competitive edge vis-à-vis the other students in his program. Although he lagged behind others in terms of ancient languages mastered before entering Ph.D. work, the theoretical background in the sociology/anthropology of religion and history of religions that he learned at MSU generally has been a tremendous asset in helping him understanding the methodological problems that are so vital to our discipline.

Brian credit’s Professor Steven Berkwitz’s excellent REL 610 class as largely being responsible for this. Brian continues to maintain his connections with MSU and the Religious Studies faculty.He commented that he has been grateful to be able to continue to communicate with Victor Matthews, Jim Moyer, LaMoine DeVries and John Strong about his current research.He stated that Victor, especially, has taken the time to proofread and give suggestions for several of my papers over the past few months, for which he was very grateful.In summary, Mr. Doak notes that he is extremely thankful for my educational background at Missouri State and he looks forward to continuing his relationship with MSU as an active alumnus.