Carnegie Mellon University


June 08, 2018

Undergrad Economics Seniors Recognized for Research Excellence

Each spring, Carnegie Mellon University celebrates student research at Meeting of the Minds, a full-day event featuring poster presentations and oral addresses from students across campus.

To recognize the level of outstanding research presented at this year’s event, the Undergraduate Economics Program presented awards to three projects during the annual Senior Economics Lunch. The Best Senior Project award was granted to economics seniors Adrian Del Bosque, Stanley Golcer, Santiago Lusso and Jose Uribe for their project, “State Debt Crises: Examining the Relationship Between Debt Maturity and Risk.” This year, due to their outstanding submissions, two students were recognized for the Best Honors Thesis in Economics award: economics senior Manvendu Mavjeevan for “Income Mobility in America,” and statistics senior Apoorva Havanur for “Impact of Social Networks on Buying Behavior.”

Best Senior Project

The Best Senior Project award recognizes research completed during a semester-long course in the fall of the students’ senior year. This year’s winning team, with the guidance of Ariel Zetlin-Jones, assistant professor of economics, tested a model professing that U.S. states would adjust the payment terms of new debts based on the level of their credit risk. In one case, they found that New York did indeed shorten debt maturity in response to higher levels of risk.

“There is no greater pleasure than seeing the lessons and work we have put in over the last four years than with an award for the project that is the culmination of all that hard work,” Uribe said. He credited their success to a well-rounded team and the analytical tools provided at the Tepper School.

The students graduated this May with vastly different career paths. Del Bosque enters a master’s program in statistics; Lusso has accepted a position with telecommunications company Crown Castle; and Uribe is moving to New York City to work as a consultant with PwC.

Best Honors Thesis in Economics

Navjeevan’s project, completed with adviser Laurence Ales, associate professor of economics, examined the relationship between income mobility rates across counties in the United States and policy variables — including social security and public assistance — as well as housing costs as a percentage of income. Navjeevan presented his findings during an afternoon oral address.

His research contributed to a senior thesis he began within the Dietrich Honors Fellowship Program, an opportunity offered to a select group of students demonstrating high academic success that supports their research over the summer before they begin their senior year.

“I felt honored to win the award,” Navjeevan said. “I was impressed by the other projects I had seen, so it was cool to have my work recognized.”

With the high quality of projects this year, the Undergraduate Economics Program recognized a second winner for the Best Honors Thesis in Economics. In addition to the economics award, Havanur’s project earned a prize from the statistics department for best oral presentation at the annual awards luncheon.

During the oral presentation, Havanur presented his examination of Yelp reviews of Pittsburgh businesses. His work analyzed data from reviews soon after a business launched and attempted to predict businesses success one to three years in its lifetime.

“I was extremely surprised to win, but I am humbled by the honor,” Havanur said. He said that his adviser, Maryam Saeedi, assistant professor of economics, “was invaluable in helping me figure out a lot of what went into the paper and provided guidance every step of the way.”

Following graduation this year, Navjeevan is starting a Ph.D. program in economics at UCLA and Havanur will join Facebook as a data scientist.