Faculty-Student Research

Undergraduate and graduate students may participate in supervised research opportunities and earn economics elective credits. In addition, research scholarships and research publication opportunities are available

Spring 2021 Research Opportunities

Research Analyst for Nonprofit Board Initiative

Description: The Kautz-Uible Economics Institute is partnering with UC Digital Futures to support UC faculty and staff who serve on nonprofit boards of directors. There are more than 10,000 tax-exempt organizations in the Cincinnati community, and these organizations collectively possess more than $20 billion in assets every year to advance their mission. UC faculty and staff who serve on these boards will receive dedicated support from UC economics students who serve as research analysts on this project. Students who apply for this research analyst position will provide services that may include but are not limited to: needs assessments, sector analysis, and performance benchmarking. It is expected that students who apply for this position will present their research at UC's undergraduate research symposium in the Spring semester. 

Skills Required: An undergraduate economics major and proficiency in Excel.

Number of Students:  3, between 10 - 15 hours per week per student. This is a paid position.

Supervising Faculty: Michael Jones, m.jones@uc.edu

Technical Analyst for Nonprofit Board Initiative

Description: The Kautz-Uible Economics Institute is partnering with UC Digital Futures to support UC faculty and staff who serve on nonprofit boards of directors. There are more than 10,000 tax-exempt organizations in the Cincinnati community, and these organizations collectively possess more than $20 billion in assets every year to advance their mission. UC faculty and staff who serve on these boards will receive dedicated support from UC economics students who serve as research analysts on this project. Students who apply for this technical analyst position will support the creation of nonprofit sector research reports using the R programming language and R Markdown. Technical analyst must be comfortable with data collection, cleaning, and visualization tools in R. 

Skills Required: Any UC student who is proficient using R and R Markdown. This is a paid position.

Number of Students:  2, between 10 - 15 hours per week per student. This is a paid position.

Supervising Faculty: Michael Jones, m.jones@uc.edu

Fall 2020 Research Opportunities

Effect of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) on Nonprofit Employment

Description: The paycheck protection program (PPP) provided federal financial assistance that organizations could use to maintain a level of employment during the COVID-19 crisis. This project will use employment data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) to analyze the employment effects of organizations (profit and non-profit alike) that received PPP funds. 

Skills Required: An undergraduate economics major who has earned a B or above in ECON4010. Student must be proficient in Excel and R.

Number of Students:  1 

Supervising Faculty: Michael Jones, m.jones@uc.edu

Economic Impact of the Nonprofit Sector

Description: Using financial data from nonprofit organizations that file a 990 every year with the IRS, this research project will analyze the economic impact of the nonprofit sector in Ohio.

Skills Required: An undergraduate economics major who has earned a B or above in ECON4010. Student must be proficient in Excel.

Number of Students:  1

Supervising Faculty: Michael Jones, m.jones@uc.edu

Blockchain Prediction Markets

Description: A student will replicate the Foresight Challenge questions by creating smart contracts on the Augur blockchain prediction market platform. Once these contracts are created on the Augur platform, their performance will be compared against the Good Judgment Open platform.

Skills Required: Student must be proficient in Solidity or willing to learn to code in Solidity.

Number of Students:  1 

Supervising Faculty: Michael Jones, m.jones@uc.edu

Past Projects

In Fall 2019, students worked on the following projects.

Automation-Resilient Majors

Student: Tony Martini, marti4a8@gmail.com

Professor: Michael Jones

Using government data on university majors and occupational activities, we produce a ranking of college majors by their susceptibility to automation. By identifying distinctly human skills, future occupations and their associated majors can be categorized by their likelihood to be automated. Institutions which develop uniquely human skills will better prepare their students for an increasingly automated labor market.

Police Spending and Crime Rates

Student: Chris McCleary, mccleac@mail.uc.edu

Professor: David Brasington

Studies show that crime rates are related to financial resources provided to a community’s police force. In this project, voting data is matched with a city’s crime data in order to understand if communities that narrowly pass police tax levies have lower crime rates than similar communities that narrowly fail to pass a levy. This technique, also known as regression discontinuity, is a simple but effective technique to measure causal relationships in data.

Rules and Standards in Tax Incentive Programs

Student: Gio Rocco, roccogi@mail.uc.edu

Professor: Michael Jones

Governments offer tax incentives to attract and retain employers in order to promote economic development; however, the structure of tax incentives varies widely.  This project uses publicly-available data from the State of Ohio’s Job Creation Tax Credit (JCTC) to build a predictive model of the value of tax-incentives. With this model, future employers and governments can predict whether a tax incentive is too high or too low based on previous tax incentive recipients.

Ambulance Response Times and Hospital Financing

Student: Prasoon Verma, vermapn@ucmail.uc.edu

Professor: Lenisa Chang

Recent studies have shown that local governments are spending a greater portion of their revenue in health related areas such as hospitals and emergency medical services. We will examine the number of car accident fatalities and the ambulances response times after a locality has passed levies to hospital and EMS services. By using regression discontinuity techniques, we will analyze if communities that pass these tax levies have better health outcomes than similar communities that fail their tax levies. 

A Code of Ethics for Applied Economics

Student: Sahar Heydari Fard, heydarsr@mail.uc.edu

Professor: Michael Jones

In 2018, the American Economic Association (AEA) released a code of conduct for its members, and the National Association for Business Economics requires its members to follow a set of professional conduct guidelines. In the discipline of applied economics, what would a code of ethics, as opposed to a code of conduct, look like? What ethical framework should guide the collection, analysis, and dissemination of economic data?

Benchmarking Nonprofits using Natural Language Processing (NLP)

Student: Martin Harrison McNulty, mcnultmh@mail.uc.edu

Professor: Michael Jones

Natural language processing can identify a degree of similarity with other nonprofits based on what organizations actually say about themselves in their mission statements and description of services. This research project will identify an approach for a nonprofit organization to find its “most similar” peer. Organizations can then use this technique to identify and benchmark performance against peers with a similar mission.

Economic Analysis of a Public Transportation Tax

Student: Benedict Leonardi, leonarbr@mail.uc.edu

Professor: Michael Jones

This research will understand the fiscal and distributional effects of a ballot measure that will reduce the City of Cincinnati’s income tax from 2.1 percent to 1.8 percent while simultaneously increasing Hamilton County’s sales tax by 0.8 percentage points. The funds from these tax levies will be used for the region’s public transportation system and infrastructure. The methodology applies tax and consumer spending elasticities from research literature to estimate the fiscal effects.

Supply and Demand for UC Parking

Student: Eli Proffitt, proffieh@mail.uc.edu

Professor: Michael Jones

UC operates 11 large parking garages and several open-surface lots covering nearly 12,000 parking spaces. As University enrollment expands year after year, the Parking department is beginning to face a new problem: limited supply. This project will research how changes in parking policy and fee structure could help to solve the parking supply problem.