The Thormahlen Family Fellowship

A certified public accountant, William J. Thormahlen is a UCSB Economics alumnus, who is a member of SARES-REGIS Group's Executive Committee and is responsible for overseeing operations and directing all legal, finance, tax and administrative functions.

"To reaffirm UCSB's proud tradition of academic excellence and in celebration of their family ties to the Department of Economics at UC Santa Barbara", the Thormahlen's have made a generous gift to aid our graduate student fellowship program. It will be given each year to a student of outstanding academic excellence.

Fellowship Recipients

Banovetz, James

James Banovetz was born and raised in Bozeman, Montana, earned his Bachelor of Science in Economics (May 2012) from Hillsdale College, graduating Summa Cum Laude with a 3.89/4.0 grade point average and a minor in Mathematics.

He then returned to his home state and was awarded his Master of Science in Applied Economics (August 2014) from Montana State University. While at Montana State, he worked as a graduate student teaching assistant for courses in Intermediate Microeconomics, Natural Resource Economics, and Industrial Organization. 

James joined the doctoral program in Economics here at UC Santa Barbara in the Fall quarter of 2014. During his first year of the Ph.D. program, he earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average, including six ‘A+’ grades out of nine first year core courses.  He also passed all three preliminary qualifying examinations on the first attempt, which all first year doctoral candidates must pass to continue on to the second year of the program.

During the second year of the Ph.D. program, James completed field specialization classes in Experimental/Behavioral Economics, and Econometrics. This enabled him to launch his dissertation research in the area of experimental and behavioral economics. He is focusing on how humans learn about risky environments. In particular, he is interested in how people choose to make trade-offs between earning known financial payoffs and learning about novel and potentially risky returns.

James is a wonderful addition to our department. He is now in the fourth year of doctoral studies and the last two summers has served as the instructor for our new Ph.D. student summer Math ‘Boot’ Camp. He is also the teaching assistant for the first year Ph.D. sequence in Microeconomics. James’ dedication to working with graduate student is greatly admired. For his dedication to our graduate student population, James was recognized with the award for the “Best Graduate Course Teaching Assistant” at the conclusion of the 2016-2017 academic year. He hopes to pursue a career as a university professor.  In his spare time he enjoys fishing and spending time outdoors.


Schwarz, Molly

Molly Schwarz joined the doctoral program in Economics here at UC Santa Barbara in the Fall quarter of 2016. Molly is originally from Illinois and went to college in Oklahoma, where she graduating from the University of Tulsa in the spring of 2016 with two Bachelor of Science degrees; in Economics and Mathematics. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a 3.89 cumulative GPA.

During her first year of the Ph.D. program, Molly earned a 3.93/4.0 grade point average and was awarded the rare score of Ph.D. Pass with Distinction on the Microeconomics preliminary qualifying exam, which is one of three qualifying exams that all first year doctoral candidates must pass to continue on to the second year of the program.

Now in the second year of the PHD program Molly is undertaking field specialization classes in Econometrics, as well as Labor and Experimental Economics.  Molly said that she chose to attend UCSB for many reasons, but one of the main ones was that it offered several fields of study that peaked her interest. Although she is not sure which fields she’ll end up completing, she is enjoying the opportunity to learn more about these topics and start forming research ideas for her future dissertation writing.

The Thormahlen Family Fellowship once again was essential in our ability to recruit and financially support a strong Ph.D. student such as Molly.


Castro, Bryan

Bryan Castro is the recipient of the Thormahlen Family Fellowship in Economics for the 2015-2016 academic year. Bryan came to UC Santa Barbara in the fall quarter 2015 after graduating from California State University - Long Beach, where he already had compiled an impressive academic record. In May 2014, Bryan graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree (Magna Cum Laude) majoring in Mathematical Economics and Economic Theory. He also graduated with minors in Political Science, Comparative World Literature, and Mathematics. But that’s not all. A year later (May 2015) Bryan also graduated from CSU Long Beach with a Bachelor of Science degree (Cum Laude) majoring in Applied Mathematics. As an undergraduate student, Bryan also received the College of Liberal Arts Exceptional Student Award, the Outstanding Graduating Senior in Economics Award and other similar distinctions.

Bryan is the first college graduate in his family. His parents emigrated from El Salvador amid one of the most violent civil conflicts in Latin America. His mother’s enrollment in college was derailed by the war, and his father’s only education was primary school.  In order to recruit Bryan to UCSB, we nominated him for and he was awarded the Eugene Cota-Robles Fellowship from the Graduate Division.