Student Research Published in the Undergraduate Business and Economics Research Journal

Students in the Research GroupA group of senior economics students will have their research on fracking published in the Undergraduate Business and Economics Research Journal (UBER). Anthony Berardi, Joseph Fazackerly, Max Fishman, Luke Wills and Jeffrey Wilson worked together on research, titled Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Clean Power Plan and the Effects of Fracking.

The research was completed as a part of Dr. Hamilton’s Environmental Ethics class in the fall, with the goal of conducting an economic analysis of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan.  The Clean Power Plan establishes standards aimed at reducing carbon emissions from power plants for the first time in the US History.

The students generated a case study based on 2011 coal usage in comparison to natural gas usage for electricity.  To complete their research, the students utilized on-campus resources, such as the Kennedy Library and the Orfalea College of Business Lab.

“[The on campus resources] provided the programs we needed to conduct research, reliable spaces we could count on to get the job done, and studious atmospheres that encouraged us to work hard on our study,” Wills said.

The students ultimately found that the EPA’s plan would reduce atmospheric CO2 emissions, resulting in a social benefit of approximately $20 million; however, the students noted that more natural gas would be needed to make this switch possible. Their paper went on to address the social costs associated with increased fracking in response to the greater demand for natural gas.

“Since Fracking is still a new technology, accurate estimates of its social costs are not fully developed,” Wills said. “It is up to a future study to determine whether or not this plan is fully beneficial.”

Their research was accepted for publication in January and will be published in the next issue of UBER. The team received a $500 reward from the economics department for their efforts.


Cal Poly Students Tie for First in Low-Income Housing Plan Competition

Sanctuary 6 team from Cal PolyAn interdisciplinary team of Cal Poly students shared first place in the 2016 Bank of America Merrill Lynch Low-Income Housing Challenge (LIHC). The team included students from architecture, economics, finance, city and regional planning, and construction management.

While a Cal Poly team has taken first place in the conceptual contest for six of the last 11 years, this year’s entry, Sanctuary 6, was designed to be something that could actually be built to house veterans in the City of San Luis Obispo. The name Sanctuary 6 comes from the military adage “got your six,” which refers to standing back-to-back with a comrade to provide defense and support.

To develop the comprehensive proposal, the team partnered with more than 17 community groups including People’s Self Help Housing, the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo, and Supportive Services for Veteran Families. Dozens of veterans and veterans’ service professionals gave direct feedback on what was needed for a development to be a successful community for veterans.

The project was designed around six key pillars specific to the veteran community: a veteran population, independence, support, camaraderie, connectivity and sustainability. The project combined innovative architectural and planning practices, including LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification, pet-friendly amenities, and fully accessible floor plans for residents with disabilities.

“Sanctuary 6 is positioned to be the first grassroots veteran housing project of its kind,” said Bryan Shields, architecture professor in Cal Poly’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design. “The level to which this project has engaged the community alone puts it on the cutting edge of community planning initiatives.”

Other finalists included UC Berkeley, which tied for first place; UCLA; the University of Washington; and the University of Arizona.

Cal Poly team members include:

– Architecture students Annelise Barbieri (Stockton, Calif.), Amy Rutty (Folsom, Calif.), Chloe Eitzer (Bethany, Conn.), Chris McCoy (Galt, Calif.), Jordan Keiser (Muskego, Wis.), Mengdi Zhang (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) and Rodrigo Robles-Gonzalez (San Jose, Calif.);

– City and regional planning students Justin Frentzel (Pittsburg, Calif.) and Emily Foley (Santa Clara, Calif.);

– Construction management major Charlie Andrews (San Diego, Calif.);

– Economics major Nathan Roberts (Orange, Calif.); and

– Finance major Andrew Fortner (Los Osos, Calif.).

Shields and Finance Professor Pratish Patel from the Orfalea College of Business served as faculty advisors.

“The team worked diligently and passionately on a project that can make a difference,” Patel said, “and team members will continue to work their hardest in the hopes that this project gets started.”

Economics Graduate Student Earns Second Place in CSU Research Competition

Mathew Thompson at CSU Research CompetitionMathew Thomson, a graduate economics student from Hatfield, England, earned a second-place award at the 2015 California State University (CSU) Research Competition. His work explored the impact of asset selloffs by the Federal Reserve Bank on short-term interest rates. Thomson was one of 13 Cal Poly student-scholars who presented their work on 10 different projects at the competition.

Participants in the systemwide competition submitted a five-page research report and gave an oral presentation before a panel of judges. They were judged on clarity of purpose, appropriateness of methodology, interpretation of results, clear articulation of the research, and ability to field questions from the jury and audience.

More than 245 students from 22 CSU campuses participated. Cal Poly tied for the most first-place awards and was second in most awards overall.

“It is a testament to the quality of research opportunities and mentorship available to our students that we compete so well in this competition each year,” said Dean Wendt, Cal Poly dean of research. “Our faculty impact student learning through their research programs, and it is a prime example of Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing approach and our academic excellence.”

Economics Professor Collaborates with United Nations to Develop Measurement Standards for Green Economies


Professor Eduardo Zambrano presented his research findings to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) this past spring as part of an ongoing effort to build a composite measure of social, environmental and economic progress.

Zambrano worked with a team of UNEP researchers and international scholars to build a methodology for tracking progress in three key dimensions of a “green economy” — social inclusivity, environmental sustainability, and economic efficiency. For each dimension, the team identified targets to aspire to, thresholds to stay away from, and formulated a methodology to measure comparative progress towards those targets. Zambrano and the other team members traveled to UNEP meetings in Geneva, Switzerland, in April and June, to present the findings.

The project supports the organization’s mission to improve the comprehensive well-being of its member countries and monitor the sustainability of such well-being. Zambrano was selected for the team based on his past work with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in which he assisted in the redesign of the Human Development Index and the design of the Gender Inequality Index.

As the leading international organization for addressing environmental issues, UNEP is well positioned to play a critical role in developing and supporting green economy progress indicators. Zambrano’s involvement with UNEP is ongoing, and the Green Economy Progress Index is set to be released by UNEP by the end of the year.

In addition to his excellent work abroad over the past year, Zambrano was also recognized by the Orfalea College of Business as the 2015 Distinguished Teacher of the Year.

Economics Society Students Travel to San Francisco for World Oil Prices Discussion

In February, the 14 members of the Cal Poly Economics Society (CPES) traveled to the San Francisco Commonwealth Club to hear a reputable panel of experts discuss the geopolitics and economics behind the current state of world oil prices and American energy sentiments. Former Special Advisor to President Obama Jason Bordoff, former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Bill Reilly, and Senior Vice President of Next Generation Kate Gordon participated in the conversation.

One of the leading discussion topics centered on the phenomenon of cheaper oil prices, with crude oil recently dropping below $50 a barrel. Will oil continue to spiral down, or will the adjusted price be higher than we initially expected? While the classic economists’ answer of “perhaps we simply cannot predict the future” seemed imperative, other speculations surrounding the state of oil prices garnered much interest from the audience. The demand for sport utility vehicles is soaring, some oil-producing countries face tremendous economic turmoil, and increasingly environmentally conscious Americans are wary of what the future holds.

Panelists Gordon and Reilly spoke highly of the United States reaching its target of cutting carbon emissions 20 percent by 2020 based on declining miles driven per vehicle and hydraulic shale fracking creating greater efficiency. Bordoff spoke quite intimately about how policy – namely cap-and-trade – plays a particularly crucial role in the future of industry and individual carbon reduction.

Climate One, a derivative of The Commonwealth Club, seeks to bring together scholarly leaders to foster the discussion of climate change, energy efficiency, and other relevant environmental issues. According to its mission, this is to help “advance the march toward a low-carbon economy.” The Cal Poly Economics Society grasped this knowledge and relate

d to the many diverse economic implications of the discussion. Afterward, some members even discussed their opinions with Bordoff and enjoyed a brief photo opportunity. CPES thanks faculty advisor Steve Hamilton for his help in organizing and carrying out the successful event.

Pictured in Photo: Isabela Galvez, Amanda Schafer, Anthony Berardi, John Crescent, Austin White, Nathan Miner, Chris Lunger, Daniel Estes, Frank Fassl, Kyle Hafey, Mike Hurdelbrink, Blake Wedekind, Stefan Hall.

Not Pictured: Davis Matthews & Professor Steve Hamilton