2022-2023 Newsletter EMU Department of Economics


Greetings, and welcome to the Eastern Michigan University Department of Economics annual alumni newsletter for the 2022-23 academic year. I am Chris Elias, Associate Professor and Interim Department Head of Economics. As you may have guessed, the major change this year is that Dr. Mehmet Yaya returned to his faculty position within the department after serving as department head since Winter 2020. Dr. Yaya’s period of leadership was certainly noteworthy. Only a few months after assuming the leadership role, Dr. Yaya faced one of the most tumultuous periods in the department’s recent history, with the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting traditional classroom instruction (along with so much else) and presenting Dr. Yaya with a major leadership challenge. His actions were instrumental in ensuring a smooth transition to online instruction, as well as quelling much anxiety and uncertainty. Simply stated, Dr. Yaya handled the situation brilliantly. Another major highlight of his leadership tenure was the oversight of the creation of a new combined BS/MS Quantitative Economics degree program. This innovative program, which provides undergraduate students an opportunity to earn both their undergraduate and graduate degrees in as little as five years, has become a model that other departments within the University have copied, and, I believe, will be of major importance to the Economics Department going forward. Lastly, Dr. Yaya’s time as department head saw a significant change in department personnel. Not only did he expertly manage the retirement of several faculty members, but he also directed the hiring of three new tenure-track faculty. Under these very dynamic conditions, Dr. Yaya ensured courses were always scheduled effectively and efficiently. All told, Dr. Yaya did an excellent job, and I am very grateful for his service to the department and hope to benefit from his experience and institutional knowledge going forward.

Another significant event of the past year was the hiring of a new faculty member, Dr. Matthew Schaffer, who will join the tenure-track faculty this fall. Dr. Schaffer, who is from Michigan and received his PhD from Michigan State University, has been an Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro since 2018. Dr. Schaffer, a macroeconomist doing research in the areas of monetary policy, banking, and financial markets, joins our department with a wealth of teaching and research experience, and we are very excited to have him join us.

The department has changed much over the past few years. With significant personnel turnover, a substantial decline in enrollments, a movement towards more online instruction, and artificial intelligence forcing a general re-evaluation of higher education, it is clear that this is a challenging and uncertain period. However, the faculty believe that this situation presents an excellent opportunity for positive change, and have plans over the coming year to make some significant modifications to departmental programs with the goal of better serving students. I plan to update you on these changes in a future newsletter.

As always, our students, lecturers, faculty, and alumni were very productive this year, and the subsequent sections of this newsletter will provide detailed insights into their achievements and contributions. However, before I conclude, I want to thank those of you who have provided financial support to the department this year, as those gifts have significantly contributed to the department’s mission and are greatly appreciated. Now, on to the newsletter.

Faculty News and Updates

Economics faculty continued its impressive record of research, publications, and presentations during the 2022-2023 academic year.

L-R row 1: James Saunoris, Christopher Elias, Jenni Putz, Matthew Schaffer; row 2: Svetlana Beilfuss, Amanda Stype, Tom Taylor; row 3: Riyadh Bahkali, Iansa Melo-Ferreira, Mehmet Yaya, Abdullah Dewan.

Faculty Publications

Saunoris, James “Patenting uncertainty and its Impact on Innovation: Evidence from the United States,” forthcoming in Journal of Technology Transfer. (co-authors: Dirk Dohse and Rajeev Goel)

Saunoris, James “Economic Freedom Determinants Across U.S. States: A Bayesian Model Averaging Approach,” forthcoming in Applied Economics. (co-author: James E. Payne)

Saunoris, James “Determinants of County-level Rent Levels: A Bayesian Model Averaging Approach,” forthcoming in Applied Economics Letters. (co-author: Richard Cebula)

Saunoris, Jim “Stochastic Convergence Analysis of U.S. State Economic Freedom Sub-Components: Evidence from Unit Root Tests for Bounded Processes,” 2023, 82(4), 319-348, The American Journal of Economics and Sociology. (co-authors: James E. Payne, Saban Nazlioglu, and Cagin Karul)

Saunoris, Jim “The Case for Independence: Does Central Bank Independence Curb the Underground Economy?” 2023, 76(3), 407-435, Kyklos. (co-author: Aziz Berdiev)

Saunoris, James “The Convergence Dynamics of Economic Freedom Across U.S. States,” 2023, 89(4), 1216-1241, Southern Economic Journal. (co-authors: James E. Payne, Saban Nazlioglu, and Cagin Karul)

Saunoris, James “The Nexus Between Corruption and Academic Freedom: An International Investigation of the Underlying Linkages,” 2023, 41(3), 513-531, Contemporary Economic Policy. (co-authors: Salvatore Capasso and Rajeev Goel)

Saunoris, James “Measuring the Size and Dynamics of U.S. State-Level Shadow Economies Using a Dynamic General Equilibrium Model with Trends,” 2023, 75, 103491, Journal of Macroeconomics. (co-author: Emily Marshall, Mario Solis-Garcia, and Tang Do (student))

Saunoris, James “Explaining Vaccine Hesitancy: A COVID-19 Study of the United States,” 2023, 44(2), 1073-1087, Managerial and Decision Economics. (co-authors: Rajeev Goel and James Jones)

Saunoris, James “Is There Convergence Among Shadow Economies? International Evidence,” 2023, 82(1), 15-28, The American Journal of Economics and Sociology. (co-author: Camila Henriquez Mora (Student))

Saunoris, James “ICT Capital Formation, Unemployment, and the Solow Paradox,” 2023, 30(1), 79-105, International Journal of the Economics of Business. (co-authors: Emmanouil Apergis and Nicholas Apergis)

Stype, A.C., Yaya, M.E. & Osika, J. Non-pharmaceutical Interventions and COVID-19: Do County- and State-Level Policies Predict the Spread of COVID-19?. J Econ Race Policy 6, 126–142 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41996-022-00112-w

Amanda C. Cook, E. Tice Sirmans, Amanda Stype, Medical cannabis laws lower individual market health insurance premiums, International Journal of Drug Policy, Volume 119, 2023, 104143, ISSN 0955-3959, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2023.104143

Faculty News & Research

Jenni Putz presented her paper, "Did the USDA Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program Improve Student Performance? Evidence from Illinois Elementary Schools" at the Western Economic Association International Conference.

Dr. Jenni Putz received the Summer Research Award for her project "Frac Sand Mining in the Midwest: Impacts on Public Health." Congratulations Dr. Putz!

Dr. James Saunoris was Editor (joint with Professor and Dean James E. Payne) of Symposium Issue on Economic Freedom published in The American Journal of Economics and Sociology in July 2023, Volume 82, Issue 4. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/15367150/2023/82/4

Dr. James Saunoris was invited to be an editorial board member for the following two academic journals: The American Journal of Economics and Sociology (2022-present) and Economic Systems (2023-present).

Dr. James Saunoris presented his paper “Is There Convergence Among Shadow Economies? International Evidence” (co-author: Camila Henriquez Mora (former graduate student)) at the 92nd annual meeting of the Southern Economic Association in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Dr. Amanda Stype presented her paper "Measles Vaccination in Childhood: The Impact on Labor Market Participation and Employee Compensation" at the Western Michigan University Department of Economics seminar.

Dr. Amanda Stype also presented at the Southern Economics Association and at the Midwest Economics Association.

In Spring 2023, lecturer Riyadh Bahkali received a medal for 25 years of teaching at EMU. Congratulations on this milestone, and thank you for your dedication to your students.


The Department of Economics sponsored speakers and events throughout the year. We are happy to bring the work of distinguished alumni and scholars in the field to the EMU community at events like department Brown Bag Seminars:

In October of 2022, EMU alumnus Waldo Beausejour presented his paper "Uncovering Important Drivers of the Increase in the Use of Virtual Care Technologies in Nursing Care: Quantitative Analysis From the 2020 National Survey of Canadian Nurses" (joint with Simon Hagens).

In November, Shooshan Danagoulian, Ph.D. of Wayne State University presented her research "Insured in the Emergency Department: Does Improved Insurance Coverage Close Disparities in Care for Black and Hispanic Patients?"

In December, Jenni Putz, Ph.D. of the EMU Department of Economics presented her paper "Reading Resources and Student Achievement: Evidence from the Michigan Culture of Reading Program"

New Instructional Staff

Dr. Matthew Schaffer

Dr. Schaffer joined the EMU Department of Economics as an Assistant Professor in Fall 2023. Prior to joining EMU, he completed his PhD in economics at Michigan State University in 2018 and taught at UNC Greensboro from Fall 2018 to Spring 2023. His research is in macroeconomics, with an emphasis on financial markets, monetary policy, and banking. Recent work has studied how competitive conditions within the banking sector influence monetary policy transmission, how financial markets respond to monetary policy announcements, and how changes in financial regulation affect credit to households and firms. Dr. Schaffer teaches courses in macroeconomics, money and banking, and time series forecasting.

Student News

Three students completed honors projects, two of whom presented their work at Undergraduate Symposium.

Auryon Azar presented a recording for his paper "The Value of Vice: A Comprehensive Analysis of Sin Taxes on Alcohol, Tobacco, and Marijuana." Faculty Mentor: Amanda Stype.

Odia Kaba submitted her paper "Ethnic Fractionalization and Health in West Africa." Faculty Mentor: Amanda Stype.

Jason Lawless presented his project "The Effect of COVID-19 policies on Post-Pandemic Employment." Faculty Mentor: Svetlana Beilfuss.

top: undergraduate Jason Lawless presenting at Undergraduate Symposium; bottom: Jason Lawless with faculty mentor Svetlana Beilfuss.

Eastern Michigan University hosted the 27th annual Student Gold Medallion Awards on March 28th. Gold Medallion awards recognize and celebrate the students, student organizations, and organization advisors who make Eastern Michigan University an exceptional place to work, live, and learn.

Graduate student Camila Henriquez Mora was honored for Outstanding Mentorship. One nominator shared that she 'made sure to make me feel included and welcomed into a new environment,' and another nominator wrote that she always 'treats everyone with the utmost respect and kindness.' Whether as a tutor, as a participant in the economics club, or in her role as a GA, Camila has demonstrated a commitment to helping others understand and navigate their EMU experience.

Congratulations, Camila!

2022-2023 Celebration of Student Achievement

The Department of Economics hosted the Celebration of Student Achievement at the Student Center on April 13th to honor and recognize student accomplishments throughout the year.

Jason Lawless received the 2023 Donald W. Pearson Award. Rebekah Arcilla was the recipient of the Department of Economics 2023 Gary E. Murg Award. Ramon Muller received the Department of Economics 2023 Bruce C. Gockerman Award.

Daniel Adubiri Gyimah received the Graduate STEM in Economics scholarship, and Adriana Henriquez Mora received the Undergraduate STEM in Economics scholarship.

Graduate student Daniel Adubiri Gyimah was recognized for having the highest graduate grade point average, and Alyssa Kettunen was recognized for the highest undergraduate GPA.

Graduate assistants and club officers were recognized for their service to the department, and scores of students with superior grade point averages were also highlighted. Congratulations to all our hardworking students on their success!

Omicron Delta Epsilon Honor Society

During the 2022-23 academic year, six students satisfied the requirements to become members of the Omicron Delta Epsilon Economics Honor Society. Students were inducted and received membership scrolls at the Celebration of Student Achievement in April.

(L-R) Rowan Moxley, Daniel Adubiri Gyimah, Eric Foor, Stephanie Drefahl, Anagha Kiran, David Cotham

Congratulations to the EMU 2023 ODE Inductees:

  • David Cotham
  • Stephanie Drefahl
  • Eric Foor
  • Daniel Adubiri Gyimah
  • Anagha Kiran
  • Rowan Moxley


The Office of International Students & Scholars hosted a celebration for international graduate students, including five international students in the Department of Economics who graduated during 2022-2023. They were joined by OISS director Esther Gunel, President Smith, Connie Ruhl-Smith, and Dr. Mehmet Yaya. Congratulations to Camila Henriquez Mora, Abigeal Eludire, Adeboyega Owolabi (graduated 2019-20), Masooma Farhang, and Ramon Muller (not pictured).

Congratulations and best wishes to all of the 2022-2023 Department of Economics graduates!

Fall 2022

  • Spencer Goddard, MS Applied Econometrics
  • Marissa Livernois, BA Economics
  • John Mercer, BA Economics
  • Jalen Weather, BA Economics
  • Beom Soo Shim, BS Quantitative Economics

Winter 2023

  • Christopher Brightwell, MS Applied Econometrics
  • Abigeal Ikeoluwa Eludire, MS Applied Econometrics
  • Masooma Farhang, MS Applied Econometrics
  • Camila Henriquez Mora, MS Applied Econometrics
  • Ramon Muller, MS Applied Econometrics
  • Ibrahim Osumanu, MS Applied Econometrics
  • Auryon Azar, BA Economics & Political Science
  • Brandon Campbell, BA Economics
  • Nadouba Diakite, BA Economics
  • Zachary Gossiaux, BA Economics
  • Kaleb Grammer, BA Economics
  • Keenen Weirlangt, BA Economics
  • Odia Kaba, BS Quantitative Economics
  • Christopher Kaminski, BS Quantitative Economics
  • Emma White, BS Quantitative Economics
  • Christopher Pietsch, BBA Economics

Summer 2023

  • Daemond Agee, BA Economics

Placement of Recent Graduates

Ramon Muller (MS Applied Econometrics 2023) has begun working as a Business & Finance Analyst at George Mason University.

Auryon Azar (BA Economics & Political Science 2023) has been accepted to the Harvard Law School Class of 2028 through its Junior Deferral Program. Auryon is also looking for opportunities to get involved politically, specifically as a speechwriter on a political campaign (Democrat or Independent). If anyone knows about the political world or knows of an opening, please get in touch via email at auryon@gmail.com.

Abigeal Ikeoluwa Eludire (MS Applied Econometrics 2023) has begun a new position working with United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM).


Abdulla Ali (MS Economics, Trade & Development) is putting his degree to work on staff for the Asian Development Bank.

Waldo Beausejour (2014 MS Applied Economics) of Canada Health Infoway began teaching Quantitative Research Methods as a part-time lecturer at Centennial College in Canada.

Mel Davis (BBA Economics 1990, MA Economics 1994) recently left Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan after 26 years and has taken the role of Controller at the Ludwig Von Mises Institute for Austrian Economics located in Auburn Alabama effective July 10th.

Abraham Kuir Deng (MA Economics, 2011) is working as a Director of Biometric & Disbursement, in the Directorate of Finance & Administration at the Ministry of Defense & Veterans' Affairs, in the Republic of South Sudan. He was recently promoted to the rank of Colonel, and appointed to the Military Economic Board.

John Diorio (Class of 2016, Mathematics BS Economics Minor) started a new position as Actuary Manager at Health Alliance Plan in July 2022, and obtained ASA Designation from the Society of Actuaries in April 2023.

Svetlana Flankova (MA Economics 2011) finished her PhD at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland in 2022 and started a tenure-track research position at the University of Liverpool (UK) as Assistant professor of Strategy.

Bonnie (Ross) Forrest (BS Economics 2012) moved from education into an Office Manager role in her home town of Trenton. She was recently appointed to a local city commission, and has taken on a leadership role in several city events since.

Chad Forsyth (BS Political Science, Economics minor 2006, MPA 2009) is now working in disaster recovery finance. This year Chad is celebrating over 12 years in economic recovery efforts.

Duane Johnson (BS Economics and Mathematics 1995) is now working in wealth management.

Mehmet Kuyucu (MA in Economics, Trade and Development 1998) is the General Manager for Nonwovens and Films at Gulsan Holding, Turkey.

Paul Loescher (BA Actuarial Sciences & Economics) is doing financial analysis and programming for Cogitate Incorporated. He was recently voted by the board as the new CFO.

Chi-Mei Liu (MA Health Economics 2011) serves as the Senior Biostatistician for the American College of Radiology.

Nino C. Monea (BA Economics 2014) was hired as an Assistant Professor of Law at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Emmanuel Ogbonna (MS Applied Economics, 2005) has transitioned to the healthcare industry and is now working with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Adegboyega Owolabi (MS Applied Econometrics, 2020) received his master’s degree in finance in April 2023. He is currently a graduate research assistant at Clemson University as he pursues a doctorate in public policy analysis.

Stay in touch

EMAIL US: emu_econ@emich.edu

We welcome and encourage you to contact us for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to the following:

  • Links, updates, or statuses that you would like to share for the next newsletter.
  • Internship or employment opportunities for our graduate or undergraduate students.
  • Suggestions or comments regarding the student or alumni experience.

Please consider making a gift to one of our scholarship funds by clicking the “Make a Gift” button below.

Join us on the Web! The Department of Economics invites alumni to check out our website and/or follow our social media. You may see each of our accounts by clicking below or search for "Eastern Michigan University Department of Economics."