Jenifer Jo Williamson Fellowship

Jenifer Jo Williamson was a resident of Torrance, California for the majority of her life. She graduated from West High School in 1984. She was a Presidential Fitness Scholar and president of the Junior Achievement Program. She attended the University of California at Irvine, and transferred to the University of California at Santa Barbara, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in economics. She made the Dean’s Honor List and was a member of Omicron Delta Epsilon. After graduation, she worked as a teacher. During this time, she also earned her pilot’s wings. Flying airplanes was her passion. In 1992, she was accepted as an Officer Candidate in the United States Coast Guard and received a National Defense Service Medal. After her service, she became a special education teacher. Jenifer had a great zest for life and a wonderful sense of humor. She was an avid bicyclist who enjoyed the outdoors. She had a great thirst for knowledge and was always reading books on a variety of topics. She lived life to the fullest, but always took time to give to others.

The Jenifer Jo Williamson Fellowship was established in her honor and memory by her parents, Sandra and Robert Williamson. It is intended to support a qualified student in the Department of Economics. The selection committee shall consider financial need, academic merit, and school and community service in choosing a recipient for the award.

Jenifer Williamson

Fellowship Recipients


Ramirez Cuellar, Jaime David

Jaime David Ramirez Cuellar was born and raised in Colombia, attended the National University of Colombia-Bogota, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Economics (June 2011) graduating with a 4.4/5.0 grade point average (an A- average). A year later he graduated with a Master of Science in Economics (October 2012) also from the National University of Colombia-Bogota. During his undergraduate and early graduate work Jaime worked as a teaching assistant in graduate level courses, was a course instructor in International Trade, was a lecturer for an undergraduate course in Macroeconomics.

Before starting the doctoral program here at UCSB, Jaime worked as a research assistant for the Foundation for Higher Education and Development (Fedesarrollo) in Colombia, which is a private non-profit organization that is dedicated to research on economic and social policy issues. Fedesarrollo promotes the economic and social development of the country through studies, publications and debates in different areas of public policy. He also worked as a Research Fellow at the Inter–American Development Bank in Washington, D.C. from 2014 to 2016.

Jaime joined our doctoral program starting in the Fall 2016 and completed his first year with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, earning six “A+” grades out of the nine first year core classes. He passed all three Ph.D. preliminary examinations, all the while earning the rare score of ‘Ph.D. Pass with Distinction’ on both the Microeconomics and Econometrics exams.

Now in the second year of doctoral studies, Jaime is enrolled in field specialization courses in Econometrics, Macroeconomics, and Labor Economics. He plans to focus his research and dissertation writing on Labor Economics and Econometrics, and the impact immigration has on labor markets worldwide with a focus on the current situation in Europe.

In his free time he enjoys playing and watching sports (soccer, basketball) and other outdoor activities. He also enjoys learning new languages and takes any opportunity he can to learn a new one.

Deeb, Antoine

Antoine Deeb was born in Dekwane, Lebanon and attended the American University of Beirut, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Economics (May 2014) graduating with a perfect 4.0 grade point average. He also earned his Master of Arts in Economics (May 2016) also earning a perfect 4.0 grade point average. While at the American University of Beirut, Antoine had one of our Ph.D. Alumni, Dr. Darius Martin who was his M.A. thesis supervisor. Darius said; “Antoine is one of the best students I’ve encountered in my career here, and I am especially happy to recommend him to my alma mater….he has the motivation and the personality traits that are ideal in a graduate student. I expect that he’ll have no trouble transitioning to independent research, and will be a great addition to your incoming cohort.”

Antoine joined our doctoral program starting in the Fall 2016. He told us that one of the main factors in joining the PhD program here at UCSB instead of looking for a job in the private sector was “in the hope of widening my horizons and further developing my research skills so that I may one day be able to generate quality research that helps our society as a whole become a fairer and better functioning unit.” During the first year of the program once again earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average and passed all three preliminary qualifying examinations on the first attempt. On one of the exams (Microeconomics) he was awarded the rare score of “Ph.D. Pass with Distinction”.

Now in the second year of doctoral studies, Antoine is taking field specialization courses in Labor Economics and Econometrics. He plans to focus his dissertation research on the impact immigration has on labor markets worldwide with a focus on the current situation in Europe.

In his free time he enjoys playing and watching sports (soccer, basketball) and other outdoor activities. He also enjoys learning new languages and takes any opportunity he can to learn a new one.

He asked me to share with you that “being selected for the fellowship was an unexpected but welcome surprise, especially since Jennifer seemed to be an outstanding and very giving person, and I sincerely thank the Williamson’s for helping support me and the other recipients during an intense first year in this program.”

 

Jin, Hongyuan

Hongyuan Jin was born and raised in Yingkou, China and attended Peking University, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Economics (June 2013) with a focus on Development Economics. She also earned her Master of Science in Economics (May 2015) from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Hongyuan joined our doctoral program starting in Fall 2016 and during the first year of studies completed all her core economic theory courses earning a 3.72/4.0 grade point average and passed the three Ph.D. preliminary qualifying examinations required to move into the second year of doctoral studies.

Now in the second year of doctoral studies, Hongyuan is taking field specialization courses in Macroeconomics, Econometrics, and Experimental/Behavioral Economics. When asked about future research for her dissertation, she said that she hopes to work on estimating the risk of climate change on the economy, and implementing risk analysis in macroeconomic models with the use of big data.

When asked about what the fellowship meant to her, Hongyuan wrote to us and said “In the fellowship letter, Jenifer is remembered as who “had a great zest for life and a wonderful sense of humor”, and who “lived life to the fullest, and took time to give to others”. As one of the students who has the great honor to receive this award, I hope I can keep the spirit ongoing, love life, care about others, be strong and courageous, and keep on working hard. With the spirit inspiring me, I think I will make every moment of my life at UCSB a great rewarding time.

Hongyuan in her spare time enjoys reading books, playing violin, cycling by the beach and hiking with friends. She plans on learning how to surf and try out deep sea fishing. She also shared with us that “Santa Barbara is a beautiful city, and with its pleasing weather, makes every second living here a great time to explore and endeavor.”

Mei, Ganghua

Ganghua (Mars) Mei originally is from Zhuhai, China. He attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, from where he was awarded dual Bachelors of Arts and Bachelors of Science degrees (May 2016) triple majoring in Economics, Mathematics, and  Finance. He graduated with a cumulative grade point average of 3.77/4.0 and was awarded Honors with Distinction on all three degrees and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

Ganghua joined our doctoral program starting in Fall 2016, and during the first year of studies completed his core economic theory courses with a 3.64/4.0 grade point average and passed the three Ph.D. preliminary qualifying examinations on the first attempt.

Now in the second year of the Ph.D. program, Ganghua is taking field specialization courses in Econometrics, Macroeconomics, and Labor Economics, from which he will glean information to launch his research towards his dissertation. Ganghua’s career goals are to be a professor of economics at a research university in the United States or Canada.

When asked about what the Williamson fellowship means to him, Ganghua wrote us and said, First and foremost, I want to thank you for establishing Jenifer Jo Williamson Fellowship in the Department of Economics at UC Santa Barbara. As one of the co-recipients of this fellowship in the 2016-2017 academic year, your funding motivated me to work harder and to be a better graduate student. I really appreciated that. I want to thank you again for offering me this great fellowship.”

In his spare leisure time he enjoys; running, swimming, and working out. He loves that “UCSB has great views and a beautiful campus; it certainly enriches my life outside of studying.”

 

Uhrig, Richard

Richard Uhrig originally is from Virginia, where he completed his Bachelor of Arts degree (May 2016) at the College of William and Mary, double majoring in Economics and Mathematics, graduating with Honors.

Richard joined the Ph.D. program in Fall 2016, and during the first year of studies completed his core economic theory courses (Microeconomics, Econometrics and Macroeconomics) and passed the three Ph.D. preliminary qualifying examinations on the first attempt.

Now in the second year of doctoral studies, he is enrolled in field specialization courses in; Labor Economics, Macroeconomics, and Econometrics.  While at UCSB, he plans to specialize in the field of development economics.  Specifically, he would like to conduct research on growth, inequality, and the effects of immigration, which he believes has become a hot topic in the current political climate. Richard is also interested in the institutions that promote economic growth and foster development.  He plans to write his dissertation on urbanization in developing nations and the effects that this can have on those underdeveloped areas as well as the global economy as a whole.

In his free time Richard says that he loves playing and following sports, especially soccer.  He is an avid fan of Chelsea Football Club, based in London, and watches when he can despite the time difference.

Richard when asked about what the fellowship meant to him wrote that “the fellowship allowed me to spend more time adjusting to the academic rigor of graduate school and less time worrying about my personal finances.  I truly appreciate what you have done in terms of easing the transition of myself and others to the UC Santa Barbara Economics PhD. program.  Once again, thank you.”


Cyronek, Travis

Travis Cyronek who was born and raised in California, received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics (Honors) from UC Irvine in June 2014.   He graduated with a near perfect GPA of 3.98 on a 4.0 scale, having received only a single “B+” grade during his undergraduate work, all the while graduating with 17 “A” grades, and 24 “A+” grades which placed him on the Deans Honor List every single quarter, four years in a row. Travis was one of our top recruits to the doctoral program and we are thrilled that he chose UCSB for this goal in his life.

Travis continued to impress us with his hard work ethic and great attitude during the first year of his doctoral candidacy and completed that year with a 3.86/4.0 GPA, passing all three preliminary exams on the first attempt, including being the only other person in his cohort to receive a rare score of “Ph.D. Pass with Distinction” on the Econometrics preliminary exam.

Currently he is undertaking field coursework in Macroeconomics and Econometrics during this his second year of doctoral candidacy and he plans on focusing his research in those two areas. Travis told us that what pulled him into studying economics was a yearning to actually understand all of the things you see and hear on the television about the economy. Questions of welfare and “optimal” (or feasibly optimal) policy are some of the most important concerns of the profession. He truly enjoys the challenge of reaching and pushing the frontiers of his knowledge, and believes that a strong understanding in econometrics allows us to test these ideas in the real world and, in his opinion, complements macroeconomic work well. Although he doesn’t yet know exactly about how his dissertation research will unfold, he has grown a strong liking to models of search and matching.

Travis is a great addition to our Ph.D. program and we thrilled to have him here. We recently found out that he can solve a Rubik's Cube very fast. He averages about 15 seconds per solve, but his personal best was 10.18 seconds!


Helo Sarmiento, Juliana

Juliana Helo Sarmiento who is originally from Bogota, Colombia, was awarded her Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Los Andes (2007). From there she went on to earn with honors (Cum Laude), her Master of Arts in Economics (March 2009) also from the University of Los Andes, with a near perfect “A” grade point average.  She received the Juan Luis Londoño Award (2009), for the best publishable article of the program. In this work she evaluated the effect of an income generating program for internally displaced population in Colombia. Soon after Juliana came to the United States and enrolled in the Master of Arts in Economics program at the University of Pennsylvania, from which she graduated with a M.A. degree in December 2012.

During the first year of the doctoral program here at UCSB Juliana was ranked 2nd in her cohort of 15 new PHD students and pass all three qualifying exams on the first attempt, including the award of a rare “Ph.D. Pass with Distinction” score on the Macroeconomics Preliminary Examination.

Now in the second year of her doctoral candidacy, Juliana is undertaking field specialty courses in Econometrics, Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, and Labor Economics. She is interested in learning the techniques and most recent literature, to eventually understand the effects of climate change on the well-being outcomes of individuals, especially on those most vulnerable.  Most recently she has found that she is interested in understanding the conditions under which open access natural resources, such as water, can be sustainably managed.

In her spare time she likes to travel to new places and discover different cultures. She also loves to cook and try new recipes from all over the world.