Research Projects

Student Scholarship Recognition Day (SSRD) is held each spring to celebrate the exemplary scholarship and creativity of Willamette University students. Students work directly with faculty members or design and conduct their own research throughout the year.

Featured Projects

Here are a few projects that exemplify the wonderful research students from the Economics department have done over the years.

Abstract: Technologies such as Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa are only brushing the surface of its capabilities, however. As the power of AI increases, the labor market is certain to experience significant shifts in the way it functions and is constructed. Using past technological revolutions, literature related to the subject, and economic theory, this thesis aims to predict the impact that AI and automation will have on the labor market while providing policy recommendations to ensure its benefits are maximized.

Sam Hudd (2019)

Abstract: Homelessness in Salem and on a national scale is reaching unprecedented levels, and these numbers are only increasing. Through an immersive investigation, this researcher conducted a cultural ethnography of adults experiencing homelessness via a research internship at the Homeless Outreach and Advocacy Project (HOAP). Findings from this study focus on two critical areas of the homeless experience: 1) how feelings of home and the physical location of a house complicate one’s constructed street identity; and 2) how individuals have relatively low levels of agency and power to affect the process by which they obtain transitional/affordable housing.

Laura Polkinghorn (2019)

Abstract: Oil is the exemplar of the modern global economy, linking issues of trade, finance, development, and national security, but there is substantial evidence to suggest that countries with natural resource wealth suffer from economic underperformance. This is referred to as the “resource curse.” The Alaskan Model - referring to a savings account for wealth from a natural resource and an annual payout to residents of a small portion of that account - has been cited as a valuable tool other countries can use to escape the resource curse. This paper looks at both the characteristics of the Permanent Fund and Permanent Fund Dividend that made it successful, and the ways in which it ultimately isn't successful.

Quinlyn Manfull (2019)

Additional Research Projects

These are all the projects the Economics department has presented at SSRD in the last few years.


  • Alaska's Permanent Fund: Testing Resource Curse Hypothesis, Dependency, and Social and Political Consequences - Quinlyn Manfull (Thesis)
  • Prisons for Sale; A Neoclassical Analysis of Price Regulation in the US Privatized Prison Industry - Raina Arberry (Thesis)
  • A Discourse on the Labor Market of the Gig Economy - Emily Self (Thesis)
  • The Effect of Artificial Intelligence on the Labor Market - Sam Hudd (Thesis)
  • From Home to House to Home: A Processual Analysis of the Journey from the Streets to a House Among Individuals Experiencing Houselessness in Salem, OR - Laura Polkinghorn (Thesis)
  • Law Regarding Homelessness Throughout the History of the United States with a Case Study of Los Angeles - Jake Procino (Independent Research)
  • Access to Higher Education: Comparative Analysis of Student Experiences in Chile, Nepal, and Jordan - Jonathan Louangrath (Thesis)
  • Treaty-making, Indigenous Rights, and the Influence of the United Nations - Joelle Patricio (Thesis)
  • Can ecolabels be an effective way to incentivize environmentally sustainable consumer purchasing habits and production practices? - Alyssa Feskanin (Thesis)
  • Union Density and Free-riding; An Empirical Study of Right-to-Work Laws. - Avery Bento (Thesis)
  • Educational Inequality in the Age of School Choice - Kaitlyn Wiggins (Thesis)
  • Happiness economics: the relationship of income and subjective well-being - Ivy Rivas (Thesis)
  • Exploring Portfolio Choice: An Analysis of Gendered Investment Behavior - Allie Kerkhoff (Thesis)
  • The Effect of Governmental Policies on Inflation in the Chinese Housing Market - Eurydice Chen (Thesis)
  • USMCA and the Auto Industry: Will the increased domestic content requirements benefit American workers and consumers? - Christopher Ishihara (Thesis)
  • A Better 2030: Public Health Economics and Rabies Elimination Efforts - Aubrey Kraabel (Thesis)
  • The Economics of Exercise - Michael Montague (Thesis)
  • Willamette's Divestment Movement: Unfinished Activism Then and Now - Sam Johnston (Colloquium Grant)


  • The Effect of China's Economic Growth Slowdown on the Global Luxury Goods Market - Emily Su (Thesis)
  • Is Honolulu's Rail Project Really a Taxpayer Boondoggle?: An Examination of the Potential Costs and Benefits of the Honolulu Rail Transit Project - Dana Morita (Thesis)
  • The Aloha State Premium: An Examination of the Causes of High Cost of Living in Hawai'i - Yun Kim (Thesis)
  • Labor Unions and the Portland Longshoremen: Equity, Efficiency and Activism - Meredith Marshburn (Thesis)
  • Can Subsidized Crop Insurance Lead to Organic Farm Acreage Expansions? - Anya Clowers (Thesis)
  • Middle Eastern Microfinance: Attempting Gender Equitable Economic Development Without The Features of Success - Nina Dabit (Thesis)
  • Universal Basic Income in the 21st Century - Andre Edwards (Thesis)
  • The Economic Uncertainties of Nuclear Power in the United States - Jonah Miller (Thesis)


  • Hybridization between Eastern and Western Gray Squirrels - Maya Kaup (Thesis)
  • Planting Starts: A Perennial Perspective on Sustainable Growing at Willamette - Olivia Mancl (Thesis)
  • Sex Differences in Leptin-Induced Increases in Sympathetic Nerve Activity: The Role of Brain Microglia - Whitney Sia (Thesis)
  • Ethnic Studies in K-12 - Ana Arredondo (Thesis)
  • Creating Better Outcomes for Low-Income Students of Color: The Role of Federal Policy - Maile Symonds (Thesis)
  • Revolution in Baseball - the Distribution of Rents in Major League Baseball - Spencer Hong (Thesis)
  • Creating a More Inclusive Sustainability - Ira Rubio (Thesis)
  • Communism in the Era of New Economic Policy - Sean Ferry (Thesis)
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