UD statistics students spend summer getting real world experience

November 12, 2013 under CANR News

Three University of Delaware students studying statistics spent the summer interning with financial and medical research institutions, gaining invaluable real world experience and, for some, job offers.

Tom Ilvento, professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics (APEC) in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), said that internship opportunities are important for every student but especially for statistics majors, as it “opens the students’ eyes to a bigger vision of what their field is about and what they can do and what kind of skills they really have.

“We preach a lot that as a stat major, you’re different, you have a lot of skills. But I don’t know that they appreciate it until they get into a setting where they have to start using it.”

Using their skills were seniors Heather Bowman and Zachary Baine, who completed internships with financial institutions, and Qiuming (Mark) He, who worked with a medical research organization.

Ilvento said he was pleased with the students’ work over the summer, pointing out that they went out on their own and actively sought out the internship opportunities and then excelled in their respective positions.

“I was impressed with all three finding positions and I was really happy for the experience they had. They were all involved in real world problems in groups, and they were participating members, so these weren’t internships where they went and got the coffee — they really got involved and were able to do things and contribute to their teams.”

The undergraduate internship program in statistics is not as developed as the statistics master of science internship program, which has up to 17 students each class in year-long internships with local companies such as DuPont, Conde Nast, Chase, Bank of America, and PNC Bank. However, Ilvento noted that APEC would like to head that way with undergraduate internships and this past summer was a great start in that direction.  “Ultimately, we would like to see more undergraduate statistics majors intern each year,” he said.

Heather Bowman undergraduate statistics majorHeather Bowman

Bowman spent her summer interning at Chase Bank in Wilmington, working with a marketing manager on a partner credit card for the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), a brand that owns facilities such as the Holiday Inn.

“Every week I would do acquisitions reports — looking at how many new card members we had from in a hotel and how many we got from various sites or emails — and then I would present that on a phone call to our partner,” said Bowman.

She also explained that she looked at the net promoter score, which told her how pleased current card members were with their card and the reasons why, from which she could report on whether changes the credit card company had made recently were making card members more or less happy.

Bowman said that having an analytical background from her undergraduate courses at UD helped her as she applied what she learned in the classroom to the world of work. “Having the analytical background and thinking came in handy when I looked at the data and tried to figure out what to do with a gigantic spreadsheet and how to make sense of the numbers.”

Another thing that helped was her knowledge of Statistical Analysis Software (SAS), a program that she learned how to use in class. “I took a master’s level statistics class that taught SAS and that’s something that a lot of companies like to see, so I thought that helped because I actually used that this summer at Chase to work on a couple of reports.”

Zachary Baine Undergraduate statistics majorZachary Baine

Baine interned at American Express in New York City. He explained that his main project was researching card member data, trying to find certain trends and looking at metrics. “I was analyzing those metrics and trying to figure out how we could predict them and use the information to try to generate more revenue growth.”

Baine said that the people at American Express were hands-off, trusting that he would get his work done, which he did thanks to the foundation he gained in UD’s statistics program.

“Some statistics classes for regression analysis really helped me and I used that often,” said Baine.

He added that the computer science and programming classes that he took as a requirement for his statistics major helped him understand some of the coding language.

“The statistics courses built a foundation for me so that I could stare at all this data and try to figure out what was going on.”

As for his favorite part of the internship, Baine said that was easy: the end when he was given a job offer.

“I was lucky enough to receive a job offer and for the interns that did get a job offer, they brought us all up to the top floor, the CEO’s floor, with this luxurious conference room,” he said. “They put us all in there and had the CEO of the company come in and congratulated us, so that was a good way to end the internship and left the most lasting impression on me.”

Qiuming (Mark) He undergraduate statistics majorQiuming (Mark) He 

He spent the summer working at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, Mo.

The facility had many individual labs, but He explained that he worked for the core facility for bioinformatics, helping to process data and provide consultation for scientists.

“They came to us if they had any questions,” He said. “Usually they could handle their data by themselves but if they had some difficulty, they came to us and we figured it out or gave them advice on how to approach the data.”

He worked with a program called R, software with which he had no previous experience prior to the internship. “I heard the name R but I never touched it and then in the first two months, I was doing some tasks and practicing, and in the last month I did my project just using the R software.”

He said that all of the skills learned in the statistics program at UD came in handy, as he had experience programming in other languages and only had to adjust to the syntax changes. He also said that the skills he learned at UD, such as critical thinking and ways to approach data, helped him out, as well.

As for statistics in general, He said that he loves how the practice allows him to help people. “We can really talk to people and see what they want and then we have the data as the backup. We can come up with the result and then we have to back that up so it’s really solid, and I like the feeling of making people happy when they see what they think is actually statistically significant. I really like seeing that they meet their expectations.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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Joshua Duke Elected President of NAREA

May 25, 2012 under CANR News

Joshua M. Duke, professor in the Department of Food and Resource Economics, has been elected president for the Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association (NAREA), a group of 250 agricultural and resource economists focused on promoting education and research on economic and social problems related to the environment, natural resource use, agricultural production, and economic development.

Duke has held every major position within the organization, from being an elected member of the executive board, to serving as co-editor with Titus Awokuse, chair of the Department of Food and Resource Economics, of the peer-reviewed journal Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, the official publication of the NAREA. Duke also served as workshop organizer and on the local arrangements committee for the annual meeting. He received the distinguished member award from the group in 2010, only the third UD recipient after Conrado M. Gempesaw II, former dean of the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, and Steve Hastings, professor and associate chair in the Department of Food and Resource Economics.

Duke said that he is honored to be elected president and is incredibly excited for the opportunity to head such a great organization. “My career benefited tremendously from the collegiality, sharing of research, and networking opportunities afforded by NAREA,” said Duke. “One of my goals as president will be to recruit the next group of leaders to the organization.” He will begin his 3-year term in June and he said that he is most looking forward to organizing the program for the 2013 annual meeting. “It’s a great opportunity to shape an annual meeting by categorizing selected-paper panels and inviting renowned experts to speak,” said Duke.

Awokuse said of Duke being named president, “I’m excited about the election of Joshua Duke as the next president-elect of NAREA.  This is a great honor for Josh and it is a culmination of his many years of faithful service to NAREA in various roles. As a friend and colleague for over a decade, I can attest to Josh’s passion for professional excellence and commitment to a life of service to others.  As leader, he will lead the organization to greater heights.”

Duke will be the 4th faculty member to serve as president for the NAREA from the University of Delaware. Past presidents include Gempesaw, Gerald Cole, emeritus professor in the Department of Food and Resource Economics, and Hastings.

There are other strong ties between the NAREA and the University of Delaware as well, as Awokuse, John Bernard, Tom Ilvento, professors of food and resource economics, and Kent Messer, associate professor of food and resource economics, are also involved in the organization.

For more information about NAREA, visit their website.

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Pan credits UD Statistics Program for preparing him for DuPont career

March 14, 2012 under CANR News

Winning the prestigious Bolton/Carothers Innovative Science Award is an honor for any DuPont employee, especially so when it is only your fourth year on the job. Such is the case for Zaiqi Pan, who received a master’s degree from the University of Delaware Statistics Program in January 2008.

An employee of Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, Pan received the award with his fellow team members — Laura Higgins, Lindsey Flexner and Natalie Hubbard — in January 2012 for their work developing and implementing an innovative method to deploy refuge for the Pioneer genetically modified corn plant.

Pan, who received a master’s degree in statistics, credits the personal and educational support he received from the professors in the Department of Food and Resource Economics in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources for not only helping him make it through to graduation, but also for starting him off on his successful career path.

When Pan started in the statistics program in 2005, a serious family situation made him question whether or not he wanted to continue with his studies. Luckily for him, the statistics faculty was there to help guide and support him through the rough patch.

“Dr. Ilvento encouraged me to stay in the program and keep connected when I had to go through such a very stressful time,” said Pan, adding that he missed a lot of class time and studies that Tom Ilvento, professor in the Department of Food and Resource Economics, helped him make up.

After the difficult start, Pan said he soon began thriving in the Statistics Program, specifically in the StatLab, a statistics laboratory designed to help researchers in the use of effective and appropriate statistical techniques in different research areas. It was in the StatLab that Pan worked and formed a close friendship with Lidia Rejtö, professor of statistics in the Department of Food and Resource Economics.

That friendship was cemented, Pan said, when Rejtö spent a sabbatical at Pioneer, DuPont Agricultural Biotechnology, in 2008 and they worked together on a number of projects.

Rejtö said she enjoyed working with her former student and praised Pan for his statistical abilities. “What is very rare is that he knows not just the statistical theory but he’s able to apply the theory and to develop a program,” said Rejtö. “There are not many statisticians who can combine the two things.”

Pan, who did his undergraduate research in mechanical engineering and then went to work as a software engineer in telecommunications before joining the UD Statistics Program, praised StatLab for providing him with the skills that ultimately led him to become a successful professional.

“It’s a really hands-on experience,” said Pan, adding that it helped improve his communication and collaboration talents.

Pan explained this comes in handy working at DuPont, where “you have to have excellent communication skills to present your ideas, so your audience will be able to understand your creative solutions quickly.”

The program also helped Pan by providing him with an opportunity to intern at DuPont while still studying for his master’s degree. He worked with Bruce Stanley in the Stine-Haskell Laboratory at DuPont Crop Protection, which gave him the first-hand experience that helped him get his current job with Pioneer studying agricultural biotechnology.

Pan has helped current students in the same way that he was helped as a student, saying that he currently oversees three interns from the UD Statistics Program.

“I think that the internship just helped me a lot to prepare for my career, so now I try to actually give back my experiences to my interns,” said Pan. “We value their strength and capability and assign them real projects they can work on and build their professional skills on. We treat the internship as a learning experience so they can successfully prepare for their future career.”

About the Bolton/Carothers Innovative Science Award

The Bolton/Carothers Innovative Science Award is named after Wallace Carothers, who is credited with inventing nylon in 1938, and Elmer Bolton, who helped encourage Carothers and commercialize the product. The award recognizes creative scientific invention or discovery that results in a recently commercialized new product, technology or business generating significant revenue with the potential for sustainable earnings.

About StatLab

StatLab provides statistical consulting services to UD graduate students, faculty, staff and researchers throughout the University, as well as non-University agencies and companies. The StatLab is jointly supported by the Statistics Program of the Department of Food and Resource Economics and Research and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily

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Ashley Fry Prepares for Career in Higher Education

March 6, 2012 under CANR News

As an undergraduate at the University of Delaware, Ashley Fry said that she wanted to study statistics in the Department of Food and Resource Economics in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) because of the plethora of career opportunities it would provide.

Now, as a master’s student studying counseling in higher education in the College of Education and Human Development and working as a graduate assistant in the CANR Office of Academic Programs and Student Services, Fry said that she has her career choice set on working in higher education.

Fry, who graduated in 2010 and also minored in math and business administration, said she hadn’t figured out what she wanted to do with her future until her senior year as an undergraduate, and that the activities in which she participated outside of the classroom fostered her interest in working in higher education.

“I was really involved on-campus as an undergraduate student,” said Fry, who worked in the Admissions office, as a Blue Hen Ambassador tour guide, as a student admissions officer during her senior year, as a new student orientation leader for two summers, and as an Ag Ambassador.

Convinced that she wanted to make a career in higher education, Fry started looking into graduate programs that were related to the field.

She credits Kimberly Yackoski, assistant dean of student services in CANR, and Latoya Watson, undergraduate services coordinator in CANR, for guiding her to graduate school for studies in university administration.

Yackoski suggested that Fry do a discovery learning experience—a requirement for all undergraduate students—in her office.

The experience went so well that Yackoski asked Fry if she would be interested in continuing in the office as a graduate assistant.

“Ashley epitomizes the perfect colleague,” said Yackoski.  “She’s got an amazing work ethic, is forward thinking, and thoughtfully juggles all the roles we play in the office each and every day.”

Said Fry, “I got really lucky that I got to essentially blend my new experiences in my grad program and apply them to the office here, in the college that I had already had such a strong feeling for.”

Talking about her day-to-day routine, Fry said that her main role in the CANR office is that of academic advisement and support. Working in the office has taught her to balance a lot of different projects at the same time, something that she relishes. “On any given day, I could be meeting with a student, I could be in a meeting with people from this office (CANR) or other offices around campus, I could be doing a presentation, or I could be sitting here answering emails.”

Fry said one of her goals in the office is to strengthen the partnership between CANR and the University’s Career Services Center.  “I think that they offer so many wonderful services for students that I really want to make sure that we’re promoting to our students to take advantage of.”

If class and working at CANR weren’t enough of a workload for Fry, she also has an internship at the counseling center as part of her graduate program where she mainly does career-based counseling for clients. So a typical day for her can involve any mix of class, work at the counseling center or work at CANR. “I’m just going back and forth all the time,” she said.

As she prepares to graduate in May with a master’s degree in counseling in higher education, Fry said she is looking forward to starting her professional career, but will also miss CANR, a college with which she had strong ties since before she even stepped foot on campus as a freshman.

“Being a prospective student in high school, I remember calling up my future adviser, Dr. (Tom) Ilvento,” said Fry. “And Dr. (Steve) Hastings was the first person I met here so, even from just being a high school prospective student, I started building relationships with people in the college which have only strengthened and become more meaningful to me through my undergraduate experience and beyond. I’m just really thankful for everything they’ve done for me.”

Article by Adam Thomas

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Statistics internships form win-win partnerships

December 13, 2011 under CANR News

The graduate internship program in the M.S. in statistics in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources sends students every year into leading companies to work, learn and grow in their field. Although the internship is optional, almost all the program’s students take advantage of the opportunity.

The DuPont Company is the longest-standing corporate participant in the statistics internship program and sponsors the most interns. DuPont has been with the program since 2001 and currently hosts seven interns at two locations. Other participants are Chase, ING, Barclays, Bank of America, AstraZeneca and Condé Nast, which has a more than eight year relationship with the program.

A year-long opportunity brings meaningful benefits

Statistics students spend a year in their internship positions. Longer than the more typical summer internship, the year-long arrangement gives students more opportunity to utilize what they are learning and more time to develop and grow in the job. Companies love it because they make the most of the resources they spend on training and get longer access to their already-trained interns.

The host companies have real work to do and real needs to fill when they hire a UD statistics intern. They often comment on how well prepared the interns are, and, in fact, they have had one year of core graduate study that prepares them for the often complex work they will face as interns.

Tom Ilvento, professor and graduate director and coordinator of the program, stresses that the program works hard to ensure that the interns’ experience is meaningful. “We want to place students in a work environment where they have the ability to apply the skills they learn in their courses. The goal is for the students to provide leadership in at least one project during the internship.” In turn, the students are required to report on their activities via presentations and papers.

An opportunity for teamwork

Qian Li, currently an intern at the DuPont Experimental Station, is excited about the real experience she is gaining in industry. “I like the chance to work with and talk to professional people. Both statisticians and biologists. They are very knowledgeable and very anxious to teach us interns the things we will need in our professional lives,” she says.

Lu Su, interning at DuPont’s Stein-Haskell Lab in Newark, echoes her fellow student’s thoughts. When asked about the best aspects of the internship, she quickly replies, “Teamwork.” She says she appreciates the opportunity to work with a multifaceted team of statisticians, biologists and fellow interns, each of whom brings his or her own special strengths and skills to the project. She adds, “We have the opportunity to put our skills to use on real data and see how it all works in reality.”

Credibility in the workplace

The market for individuals with graduate degrees in statistics is excellent, points out Ilvento, and all of the program’s graduates find work in the field. He credits the fact that they each already have a year’s work experience on their resumes with part of the success. “Work experience is crucial in the job search today,” he notes, “and these students have worked with real companies on real problems.”

Joe Scocas interned at DuPont Crop Protection Products as a master’s student in statistics and was later hired as a statistician by the company. Thinking back on his internship experience, he comments, “Even though I had previous work experience the internship was beneficial for me since it gave me the opportunity to participate in the working environment of my chosen profession. Scocas continues, “My internship gave me a meaningful frame of reference to better understand the new statistical concepts I studied in class. Working in an environment like DuPont Crop Protection enables you to see how ideas work together and help us understand a more complex situation.”

Scocas has found the work at DuPont Crop Protection Products personally rewarding. “We are dedicated to discovering products that can directly impact the world’s food supply, both in terms of availability and affordability,” he says. “DuPont statisticians and, in turn, the interns from the University of Delaware work on projects and with scientists from all over the world, providing them with a memorable experience that ultimately can help define their professional goals and further their career.”

Scocas now supervises UD interns at DuPont. “I believe that my experience as a former intern allows me to understand the needs and strengths of current students. I can help them advance their learning and understanding of the contribution statistics provides to research and development, as well as increase the benefit that DuPont receives from this relationship.”

UD’s Department of Food and Resource Economics benefits from the internships as well. The internships help them build linkages with industry. Some of the individuals who began as internship program contacts at partner companies have become adjunct instructors in the UD statistics program, bringing their current, real-world knowledge into the classroom. Plus, the contacts help the department get a better understanding of what companies need employees to know and what the problems in today’s work world are.

“The internship program gives us a finger on the pulse of what working statisticians are currently doing in very applied settings,” says Ilvento. “It is very easy to be theoretical at the University,” he continues, “but the world is practical.”

By Tara White Kee

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of Professional Education News.

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Awokuse named chair of the Department of Food and Resource Economics

September 1, 2011 under CANR News

Titus Awokuse, professor of food and resource economics and professor of economics, has been named chair of the Department of Food and Resource Economics (FREC) in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources effective Sept. 1. As chair, Awokuse will have administrative oversight for research and teaching activities of the faculty, staff, and students and have responsibility for leading department-wide initiatives and day-to-day management of the department’s academic programs and personnel affairs.

Awokuse will succeed Thomas Ilvento, professor of food and resource economics, and he noted that Ilvento has been a great help to him as he prepares for his new role.

“The outgoing chair, Thomas Ilvento, has been extremely helpful in showing me the ropes and helping to achieve a smooth transition. He has been incredible,” Awokuse said. He also mentioned Blake Meyers, Edward and Elizabeth Goodman Rosenberg Professor and chair of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, as being a great help in getting him prepared to chair the department.

Robin Morgan, dean of CANR, said of the appointment, “Titus Awokuse is an exceptionally talented scholar and teacher, and UD is very fortunate that he will lead the Food and Resource Economics Department going forward. Under Awokuse’s leadership, I look forward to seeing the department’s bold plans and bright future unfold.”

After earning a bachelor of science degree in economics from Berea College, Awokuse went on to get his master’s in economics from Murray State University and his doctorate in agricultural and applied economics from Texas A & M University.

Awokuse joined the department in August 2000, and he said that he looks forward to the challenge of being chair of FREC and stressed that he hopes the position will allow him to collaborate with his fellow departmental colleagues and staff as FREC continues to move in a positive direction.

“My philosophy is that being the chair of a department is not like being the leader of a business venture. This is more of a group effort. The chair should be a visionary and facilitator who works collaboratively with others to achieve set goals and objectives of the unit. So it should not be just the chair doing all the work. An effective leader must respect and genuinely care for people’s needs, be an active listener, set clear goals and priorities, and share the load by delegating responsibilities to others. It’s basically trying to get the group to work more cohesively so everybody has a role to play.”

Awokuse said that one of his goals as department chair is to make FREC more competitive in terms of research, teaching and outreach on both a national and international level. “I want us to have stronger visibility nationally and internationally. We have some excellent faculty doing great work and we need to showcase that more, we want to continue to attract strong students for both our undergraduate and graduate programs.”

He also wants to increase FREC’s interactions and partnerships with other departments and colleges within the University. “We have worked really well with other departments on campus, and we want to strengthen those linkages and continue to do that.”

Another subject that Awokuse feels passionate about is leading by example. He hopes to remain active in research even with his new responsibilities as department chair.

“Although the administrative demands of being chair will be time consuming, I still intend to carve out quality time to engage in my research work and mentoring graduate students.”

Awokuse conducts empirical research on policy issues related to the economics of international trade and investment, economic growth and international development, agricultural markets and food security. He recently served as the editor, with Joshua M. Duke, for a national peer-reviewed journal, Agricultural and Resource Economics Review. He also co-authored a project report titled “The Impact of Agriculture on Delaware’s Economy,” with Thomas Ilvento and Zachary Johnston, which cited Delaware’s agricultural economic impact to be roughly $8 billion, much higher than the previously reported figure of $1 billion.

Awokuse said that he is humbled by the opportunity to chair the department.

“I thank Dean Robin Morgan for providing me with the opportunity to serve and I’m looking forward to working with the faculty and students and taking the Department of Food and Resource Economics to the next stage of its growth and development.”

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo by Danielle Quigley

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Delaware agriculture is an $8 billion industry, according to new UD study

March 24, 2011 under CANR News

Agriculture is an $8 billion industry in Delaware, according to a recent study published by the Department of Food and Resource Economics in the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The study — conducted by UD faculty members Titus Awokuse and Tom Ilvento, with help from graduate student Zachary Johnston — used input-output analysis, taking into account the market value of products sold from on-farm production, revenue from processing and manufacturing of agricultural products, and inter-industry linkages to determine the value added to the economy.

A study of this magnitude had not been conducted since the early 1980s. According to the authors, this new report is much more accurate in its calculations for the true impact of agriculture in Delaware.

Historically, $1.1 billion has been the most commonly cited number for the impact of agriculture in Delaware. “But this is the total market value of agricultural products sold at the farm level, just a small piece of the picture,” according to Awokuse, associate professor and director of graduate studies for food and resource economics.

The new report shows that the processing of farm products adds a previously unaccounted for $3.8 billion. Forestry production and processing add an additional $831 million, with ag-related services (i.e. crop dusting, ditch digging) adding $28 million.

The research project was commissioned by Robin Morgan, dean of the college. “This study was needed because the impact of agriculture in Delaware is much larger than farm receipts and (the impact) should account for processing of agricultural products. Agriculture is a large and vital part of Delaware’s economy, and our understanding of its impact needs to be as accurate as possible,” says Morgan.

In addition to the total industry impact, the report provides separate results by county and for several key agricultural commodities: poultry, dairy, fruits and vegetables, corn, soybeans, wheat, greenhouse, nursery and horticultural products.

With Delaware’s long history of poultry production, it was no surprise to the authors that the majority of the economic value of agriculture comes from the production and processing of poultry products, with an industry output of $3.2 billion and over 13,000 jobs.

The report also provides a summary of statistics relative to the changing face of agriculture in Delaware, noting there are fewer farms in Delaware, but the size and productivity of farming operations has increased over time.

Awokuse notes that this trend is in large part because “both technological and biological innovations within agriculture now allow a single operator to be more productive and maintain a larger operation, hence the consolidation of farms across the state.”

And, according to the authors, the state of Delaware agriculture will continue to change.

“Farmers are being asked to produce more on less and less acreage and they turn to science and technology to make that happen. Agriculture is a modern, efficient, technologically advanced industry, even if the image is still rooted in a 19th century image of farming,” says Ilvento, professor and chair of the Department of Food and Resource Economics. “Changing that image, assisting farmers to find modern solutions, and promoting the importance of agriculture — that’s what our college is all about.”

A full version of the report can be viewed online.

This article can also be viewed online on UDaily by clicking here.

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FREC Masters Students Placed in PhD Programs across the US

August 17, 2010 under CANR News

The Department of Food and Resource Economics at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources is having an outstanding year, with six masters’ students going into funded Ph.D. programs across the country in the fall.

 Titus Awokuse, associate professor of food and resource economics, said the FREC graduate program prepares students to contribute to critical social problems in education, natural resources and the environment, data analysis and the economy.

 “Our students do very well in the job market with a master’s degree, but those who desire more study are very competitive,” Awokuse said. “This year was an exceptional year with six students funded for advanced study. We are proud of that.”

 Tom Ilvento, chairman of the FREC department, said the master’s program includes rigorous courses in economic theory, operations research and statistics.

 “Our graduate education emphasizes a sound theoretical base coupled with applied opportunities to develop and practice professional skills in analysis, writing and presentation of ideas,” Ilvento said. “Students go on to complete a thesis or work in a company as an intern, but we want them to have a good foundation in theory so they can compete in advanced graduate study.”

Jubo Yan, who graduated from the FREC program this summer, said he was drawn to the department’s research when choosing a master’s program. Yan will be pursuing his Ph.D. in Applied Economics and Management at Cornell.

“I went to several meetings to present my papers and to meet other researchers across the country,” Yan said. “This might not be common for a lot of masters’ programs.”

Guang Xiao, who graduated from the program in May, is currently a Ph.D. student in Operations Management at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He said the FREC program taught him valuable research techniques, as well as gaining experience and improving his communication skills through presentations and written reports.

“The operations research program at UD has a practical focus, which may help me to get a better understanding about the applications of OR in the real world,” Xiao said. “The OR program in UD made me well prepared for future Ph.D. work.”

Kathryn Onken, who will graduate in the fall, is planning to pursue a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Applied Economics at Virginia Tech. After completing her bachelor’s degree in the FREC department, Onken said she jumped at the chance to earn her master’s degree while conducting research with UD faculty.

“My master’s work provided me with a solid foundation from which to further build upon—not just course work, but also the opportunity to assist with research projects and publications,” Onken said. “I was never short on good advice; the faculty in the department genuinely want to see their students succeed.”

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