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Student research earns award at economics conference

Student research earns award at economics conference

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A Lycoming College economics student won second place at the recent Pennsylvania Economic Association (PEA) annual conference at Kutztown University in the Undergraduate Best Student Paper Contest. Elena Pikounis ’20 of Catonsville, Md., an economics and actuarial science major, and accounting minor, was recognized for her work, entitled, “The Multiplier Effect of Military Spending on Economic Growth: An Empirical Analysis of the United States.”

PEA is a professional association of economists and allied social scientists from Pennsylvania and neighboring states, and its annual meeting showcases research and enables discussion on national economic conditions. In addition to competing, both Pikounis and Elizabeth Moorhouse, Ph.D., associate professor of economics and chair of the department, attended the conference to participate in collegiate dialogue with fellow economists.

Written to fulfill an econometrics course requirement, the idea for the paper came about in a U.S. history class where Pikounis became interested in how a country’s military spending influences a country’s economy, measured by gross domestic product (GDP). Holding other relevant factors constant, she found a positive and statistically significant relationship between the U.S. government's spending on national defense and GDP.

As the faculty sponsor for the research, Moorhouse worked closely with Pikounis throughout the semester to improve the rigor and quality of the paper. “Although I helped guide the paper and offered feedback throughout, the idea and execution of the project are all the result of Elena's hard work and perseverance,” said Moorhouse. “She built her own data set, developed her own models, and even learned estimation techniques — beyond those taught in class — to better measure the relationship between U.S. military spending and U.S. GDP. I am so proud of what she accomplished and am so pleased that her efforts were recognized by the PEA as exemplary research conducted by an undergraduate.”

“This award represents many long hours of hard work, and my experiences this semester have opened doors for me to explore graduate school and new career paths,” said Pikounis, who plans to pursue a job in finance, or become an actuary. “The amazing thing about economics is you can look at relationships between any number of things, and while it may be abstract at times, there are many real-world applications of economics.”

On campus, Pikounis is a model student, taking leadership roles as the president of the Economics Club, a representative of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, and the finance and operations vice president of Alpha Xi Delta Fraternity. Additionally, she was named Academic All-Honors for Lycoming Swimming.

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