Penn State Department of Economics
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Charlotte Wachter

Liberal Arts Major(s): Economics
Minor: Mathematics, Environmental & Renewable Resource Economics
Hometown: Fort Washington, Maryland
Experience Time: Summer 2021

Give us a brief summary of your experience?

In the Summer of 2021, I worked as a Research Assistant for Dr. Michael Gechter in the Department of Economics at Penn State. Specifically, I contributed to Dr. Gechter's current research on how environmental firm relocation policy in Delhi, India, affects workers, firms, and air pollution. I also helped create datasets for Dr. Gechter's research on meta-analysis of micro-credit finance programs. My work involved geocoding the locations of relevant amenities in Delhi's Industrial Areas, reading through academic studies on micro-credit finance programs, and writing scripts in R and Python to automate geospatial data processes.

How did this experience impact you academically?

This experience allowed me to explore different areas of economics, specifically development economics. Prior to this experience, I was considering applying to graduate programs that exclusively focused on environmental economics. While working for Dr. Gechter, I read a number of academic papers on conditional cash transfers and other policies aimed at increasing school enrollment rates. These papers, as well as others focusing on microfinance policies, gave me a new understanding of how economists are analyzing important policies in developing countries. As I gained a deeper understanding of development economics, I decided to enroll in ECON 471 - Growth and Development Economics - in Fall 2021.

"Working on these research projects...led me to rethink my plan of only applying to environmental economics graduate programs."

How will this experience impact your career goals?

Working on these research projects also led me to rethink my plan of only applying to environmental economics graduate programs. Currently, I’m in the process of applying to graduate programs for all areas of economics and I have tentative plans to specialize in development economics as well as environmental economics.

How has the College of the Liberal Arts helped you to find and/or succeed in this experience (e.g., adviser, faculty, staff, enrichment funds, etc.)?

The College of the Liberal Arts was instrumental in making this experience possible for me. Not only is the Department of Economics within the College of the Liberal Arts, but the enrichment funds I received from the college also allowed me to spend more time working on my research tasks.

For more information on research opportunities for Liberal Arts students, visit our website
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