Cal Poly Faculty and Alumni Coauthor Economics Research on Organ Donation Markets

Two Cal Poly economics graduates have collaborated with Professor Eduardo Zambrano on research examining reforms to the current kidney donation model in the United States, including compensating donors while protecting those with low ability to offer such compensation. K.C. Eames and Patrick Holder, who both graduated with undergraduate degrees in economics in 2011, contributed to the project with Zambrano. The research was recently published in the Journal of Health Economics, one of the field’s most prestigious publications.

The idea for the research came from Eames’ Cal Poly senior project in 2011, where she explored the idea of a paid market for kidneys to remedy the existing shortage of donated organs.

“I don’t have any personal connection to organ donation, but I remember wanting to do something different from what others were doing,” said Eames, who is now a CPA, about her motives for the Learn by Doing project. “I like the behavioral and incentive side of economics, how we can change people’s behavior by incentivizing them in various ways, and finding those incentives while still taking into account potential unintended consequences.”

Zambrano approached Eames about extending her initial set of results. Eames said she felt honored to have one of her favorite professors validate her idea. Zambrano, who has conducted valuable research on welfare economics and the measurement of human development, began by pulling data from the National Kidney Foundation as Eames left Cal Poly for a job in industry. Holder, who is earning his PhD in economics at UC Santa Barbara, joined the project in 2016 to aid on revisions to the initial draft after it had been submitted for peer review.

Despite the seriousness of the kidney shortage, potential reform to kidney markets faces opposition because a paid system could put less wealthy patients at a disadvantage or motivate donors who don’t understand the risks. The research team proposed a cooperative method that would potentially increase donations while protecting those at risk of being isolated in in a paid market.

“It wasn’t a surprising outcome necessarily — when you pay people for things, you get more of it,” said Eames of the results. “​I guess what was surprising to me is that you could calculate a scenario that would provide a benefit to more people than the status quo. At the same time, I understand that many people would have a hard time adapting to reforms such as the ones we’re examining.”

Eames and the team hope the research pushes the boundaries of how people think about what practical reforms could save lives, even if they challenge cultural norms.

Find the paper “Solving the Kidney Shortage Via the Creation of Kidney Donation Co-operatives” in the Journal of Health Economics:

Economics Professor Helps Reform Gender Equality Index

Eduardo ZambranoEconomics Professor Eduardo Zambrano has proposed a reformulation of the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Development Centre.

The index aims to measure and analyze the origins of inequalities in 110 countries, including formal and informal laws, social norms, and practices that restrict or exclude women. According to research, social institutions, when discriminatory, limit progress on gender equality on education, employment, levels of poverty and marginalization, and participation in the political sphere.

The SIGI aggregates information regarding gender inequalities in the following five broad categories: discriminatory family code (including rules around early marriage and inheritance), restricted physical integrity (including violence against women or genital mutilation), son bias, restricted resources and assets (including secure access to land and financial services), and restricted civil liberties (including access to public space and a political voice). Zambrano aims to adjust the substitutability between indicators and how each variable is weighted within the index to better reflect progress made in these core variables.

Zambrano presented his findings to the OECD in Paris in early September.

He has worked on similar international index efforts on behalf of the United Nations’ programs on development and the environment. Zambrano has also been recognized as one of Orfalea’s outstanding professors. In 2015, he was named a Jacobsen Faculty Fellow and was honored with the college’s Distinguished Teaching Award.

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.

Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business Honors Students, Faculty and Clubs


Kaitlin Siemering with entrepreneurship Professor Jon York.

Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business recently recognized outstanding students, clubs and faculty at its annual Senior Awards Ceremony. At the event, college Dean Scott Dawson, area chairs, and ambassadors highlighted academic excellence and extraordinary contributions to the university.

The top student honor went to Kaitlin Siemering, a business administration major concentrating in entrepreneurship. Siemering, originally from Woodinville, Wash., earned the Academic Excellence and Delta Sigma Pi award for maintaining the college’s highest cumulative grade point average: 3.9. She also won the Outstanding Graduating Senior award in entrepreneurship for helping create the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship’s first kids’ camp, “Launch It!,” which will debut this summer. Siemering is graduating a year early and will attend law school at New York University.

Siemering was also one of 15 students in the college who received scholastic achievement awards for holding a GPA above 3.85.

Economics Professor Eduardo Zambrano was named Distinguished Teacher of the Year for his ability to weave real-world issues into his courses. Zambrano is also involved with the United Nations’ Environment Programme, where he has helped develop an index to assess a country’s efforts to become ecologically and socially sustainable.

Information systems Professor Barry Floyd was named Emeritus Faculty of the Year for building strong industry connections that benefit students in the classroom. He has brought unique opportunities for students to test software for leading companies and to discuss gender in the workforce with alumni in the technology sector.

The Orfalea College of Business’ top club honor went to the Cal Poly Accounting Club (CPAC). CPAC was named Club of the Year for its strong recruiting events with the Big 4 and regional firms, alumni engagement, and professional development opportunities. The club was also voted Club of the Year by Mustang News’ Poly Picks survey.

For a complete list of Orfalea College of Business award winners, visit