Sunday, May 15, 2022

Riley Lewers

Hometown: Iowa City, IA

Undergraduate Degrees: Economics and Mathematics, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Graduate Program: Applied Economics, University of California, San Diego

What was the focus of your research at Iowa?

During my first year at UI and the summer following I assisted Professor Rene Rocha (Political Science) with a project on immigration. 

The summer after my junior year I was an Intern in the Economic Research Department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, where I helped with projects on forecasting and land sales.

During my senior year I wrote an honors thesis in Economics under the guidance of Professor David Frisvold. The topic was post-secondary education and geographic mobility.

Since graduating from UI in 2020 with majors in Economics and Mathematics, I have been working as a Research Assistant at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in the Microeconomics Group. While at the Fed I've worked on a variety of applied microeconomics projects in the areas of economics of education, environmental economics, health economics, and consumer spending.. I've also had the opportunity to contribute to the Fed's FOMC process through policy work to understand the state of labor markets during Covid.

What drew you toward that topic?

I'm drawn towards topics in applied micro because I enjoy working with data and using panel data econometrics techniques. I have learned to appreciate the relevance of the insight from applied micro research to policy.

What advice do you have for undergrads looking to apply for the NSF GRFP?

I would advise starting with research early and gaining in-depth knowledge of a specific literature. Experience makes it much easier to come up with a strong NSF proposal. While at the Chicago Fed, I read a lot of papers on the costs of pollution and worked with transaction-level consumption data. I then brought these two things together to write my NSF proposal on estimating changes in consumption due to wildfire smoke pollution.

What have the resources provided from the fellowship allowed you to accomplish/pursue?

The GRFP will substantially increase the level of financial support I will have during my PhD, giving me more time to spend on research. 

To learn more about the NSF GRFP and this year's recipients from the University of Iowa, see the article in Iowa Now. 

Application development support is available for rising seniors and alumni who are applying after graduation from Iowa, but before they apply to graduate programs for the following academic year.  Students interested in applying for the 2022-23 NSF GRFP competition should schedule an initial consult with the Office of Scholar Development to learn more about the application process and relevant resources as soon as they are aware of their interest in the fellowship.