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Student News May 28, 2024

All the highlights from Class Day 2024

It was with great pleasure that friends and family members of the Class of 2024 gathered in McCosh Hall on Monday, May 27th for the Economics Department’s annual Class Day celebration.

At the beginning of the ceremony, Economics Department Chair Wolfgang Pesendorfer recognized the many challenges this year’s graduating class overcame when their journey at Princeton began in 2020. 

“Your high school senior year was profoundly disrupted and many of you missed out on your high school graduation ceremonies,” Pesendorfer noted. “Your time at Princeton started out most inauspiciously: First only virtual, then mostly confined to your dorm rooms. I am sure this was not the college experience you had envisioned for yourselves.”

“But here you are, having navigated those challenges with resilience and determination. Congratulations.”

Here’s a quick look at some of the biggest moments from this year’s Class Day celebration.

Shirley Ren awarded the Halbert White ’72 Prize in Economics

Shirley Ren receives the Halbert White ’72 Prize in Economics

Shirley Ren receives the Halbert White ’72 Prize in Economics and the Wolf Balleisen Memorial Prize for the best thesis on an economics subject.

This year’s Halbert White ‘72 Prize in Economics–awarded annually to the department’s top student as evidenced by excellence in department coursework and creativity in their Junior Paper and Senior Thesis–went to Shirley Ren.

In addition to majoring in economics, Ren, whose thesis was titled “ An Asset Demand Approach to Studying Recent Trends in Chinese Equity Markets,” also earned certificates in Finance, Statistics and Machine Learning, Applied and Computational Mathematics, Political Economy, and East Asian Studies.

The 2024 Senior Thesis Prize winners

Every year, the department recognizes students whose Senior Thesis projects exemplify quality, creativity, and academic rigor.

The John Glover Wilson Memorial Award for the best thesis on international economics or politics was awarded to Antek Hasiura for their thesis titled “Currency Crises in the Age of Decentralized Finance.”

Antek Hasiura is recognized during Class Day.

The Walter C. Sauer ’28 Prize, awarded annually to the student whose thesis or research project on any aspect of United States foreign trade is judged to be the most creative, was awarded to Dickson Bowman for their thesis titled “An Analysis of the Cross-Border Effects of Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s Cartel Kingpin Strategy.”

The Griswold Center for Economic Policy Studies Prizes, awarded to the best policy-relevant theses, were given to:

  • Jampel Dorjee for their thesis titled “How the Rich Stay Rich: Intergenerational Wealth Transfer in the British Aristocracy, 1860-2022.”
  • Joe Fast for their thesis titled “The Effect of the Minimum Wage on Disability Insurance Recipients.”
  • Samantha Lee for their thesis titled “The Effects of Market Exclusivity Loss on Medication Utilization Dynamics: A Comparative Analysis of Cardiovascular and Psychotherapeutic Drugs.”
  • Tucker Saland for their thesis titled “Climate Value at Risk: A Model Calibration Approach to Green Financing, Environmental Taxes, and Climate Change.” 
  • Aaron Ventresca for their thesis titled “The Effect of the Tax Cuts and Job Acts of 2017 on Private Charitable Giving.”

The Burton G. Malkiel *64 Senior Thesis Prizes in Finance were awarded to:

  • Ben Cai for their thesis titled “Examining Changes in Individual Payment Choice Behavior.”
  • Bofan Ji for their thesis titled “Liquidity Regime Unveiled: Integrating Liquidity Measures Through Gaussian Mixture-Driven Hidden Markov Models.”

The Elizabeth Bogan Prize in Economics, awarded annually for the best thesis or theses in health, education or welfare, was awarded to Maya Satchell for their thesis titled “The Private Market Meets Affordable Housing: Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Properties Improve Low-Income Neighborhoods with Minimal Effects on High-Income Neighborhoods.”

The Daniel I. Rubinfeld ’67 Prizes in Empirical Economics, awarded for the best theses in empirical economics, were given to:

  • John Mulunda for their thesis titled “Less Money, More Problems: An Analysis of U.S. Public Pension Plans’ Funded Ratio, Asset Allocation, and Investment Returns from 2001-2022.”
  • Michael Zhou for their thesis titled “A Factor Model for Correlation Risk Premium Returns.”

Finally, the Wolf Balleisen Memorial Prize for the best thesis on an economics subject written by an economics major went to Shirley Ren for their thesis titled “An Asset Demand Approach to Studying Recent Trends in Chinese Equity Markets.”

Expressing gratitude for our outstanding graduate student preceptors and faculty advisers

During this year’s Class Day ceremony, Pesendorfoer also recognized six graduate students for going above and beyond as preceptors. The winners of this year’s Graduate Student Teaching Prizes were Narek Alexanian, Dexin Li, Carol Shou, Rafael Schwalb, Jesse Silbert, and So Hye Yoon.

Professors Mikkel Plagborg-Møller and Kelly Noonan were each awarded the Harvey Rosen Teaching Prize for their outstanding contributions to undergraduate education, and Assistant Professor Karthik Sastry was recognized for his commitment to undergraduate advising.

“He pushed me to think deeper about development economics and the many moving parts that go into implementing a large-scale policy,” one student said of Sastry’s efforts. 

“He provides thoughtful and helpful advice and comments, and never once made me feel rushed.”

Recognizing campus-wide contributions and the department’s all-star student athletes

Finally, Pesendorfer gave special recognition to several students whose contributions to Princeton extended far beyond the department. 

Pesendorfer recognized Stephen Daniels, who was one of eight seniors, out of 180 nominations, to win the 2024 Spirit of Princeton award for his service and contributions to campus life. He also recognized Sydney Eck, who was one of three undergraduates this year to win the Princeton Research Day Orange and Black Award. Eck won the award for her Junior and Senior Independent Work, which focused on health economics in India and China. 

Pesendorfer also recognized many of the department’s student athletes, whose achievements made the entire university proud. Those students include: 

  • Cate Bade and the women’s softball team won the Ivy League tournament, the post-season tournament and advanced to the NCAA.  
  • Tommy Barnds and Pace Billings, as a part of the men’s lacrosse team, won the Ivy League post-season tournament and advanced to the NCAA.
  • William Cauley and Joe Fast were Ivy League champions in men’s track and field.
  • Alastair Cho was an Ivy League champion for men’s squash.
  • Christian Hartch and the men’s water polo team made it to the final four of the NCAA championship. 
  • Ellie Mitchell and the women’s basketball team were Ivy League champions, winning the post-season tournament and advancing to the NCAA. 
  • Samantha DeVito, Ellie Mueller, and Grace Tauckus, as part of the women’s lacrosse team, made it to the second round of the NCAA.
  • Jen Estes and Marissa Hart, as part of the women’s soccer team, also made it to the second round of the NCAA. 
  • Ben Harrington and the men’s volleyball team made it to the quarterfinals of the EIVA tournament.
  • Mariachiara (Kikka) Giudici competed with the women’s openweight crew team, which ranked third nationally.

Congratulations to the incredible Class of 2024! We can’t wait to see everything you achieve in the years ahead.

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