KINGSTON, R.I. -- September 25, 2003 -- Two women who graduated from the University of Rhode Island last spring were selected by faculty of the Economics Department to receive the first Joel B. Dirlam Undergraduate Research Excellence Award.
Viviane R. Aiex Martins, of Providence, and Irma S. Mattei, of Middletown, were honored during ceremonies in late August. Each earned their bachelors degrees in economics. For their efforts, they were each presented checks for $250.
Under the guidance of Economics Professor Mohammed Sharif, the women completed a research project last spring titled, "Effects of Gobalization on Income Inequality and Poverty: Brazil case study."
Professor Yngve Ramstad, the chair of the Economics Department, said that about eight years ago the department added a course --Economics 445: Senior Research Project, believing the course would serve as a capstone experience allowing students to use the skills they developed by completing a meaningful research project.
"Not many have elected to undertake a sophisticated quantitative project," Ramstad said. "Of those who have, none have matched the sophistication with which Viviane and Irma pursued their investigation of the effect that globalization has had on inequality."
Using Brazil as a case study, Mattei and Martins used their training in econometrics to uncover the mixed impact that globalization may be having on the worlds poor. "Their empirical results suggest that in Brazil the poor are falling farther behind as a result of globalization," Ramstad said.
Martins, who came to this country three years ago from Brazil, and Mattei, who emigrated from Puerto Rico three years ago, had a common focus for their research.
"Because we were both from Latin America, we wanted to focus on the problems of a developing country," Martins said.
"We worked very hard on what was my toughest project during my time at URI," said Martins, who is considering studying for a masters degree in business administration at URI.
Using email, the students collected data on Brazils economy and its labor conditions. The result was a 35-page paper they submitted at the end of their senior year.
"We put in between 15 and 20 hours a week on the project," said Mattei, now a purchasing assistant at Rue de France in Middletown, an upscale catalogue retailer that sells decorative merchandise such as European lace curtains. "Other students in the course agreed that our project was the best. Our paper has been considered for publication, but we would have to do some additional work to submit it."
The award is named in honor of Professor Emeritus Dirlam, who retired from URI in 1981.
Dirlam received his Ph.D. in economics from Yale in 1947, and has been a leading contributor to the field ever since. He is the co-author of three books, the first two reflecting his status as one of the leading mid-century authorities in the field of industrial organization: Fair Competition: the Law and Economics of Antitrust Policy (1954) and Pricing in Big Business: A Case Approach (1958). Turning his eye toward international competition Dirlam became an authority on the Yugoslav economy and in 1973 published An Introduction to the Yugoslav Economy (with James Plummer).
Dirlam also published on such topics as the fluid milk industry, the pricing of gasoline, corporation finance, natural gas pricing, the regulation of public utilities, steel imports, underdevelopment, communication satellites, Yugoslav agriculture, the cost of oil spills and the Northeastern U.S. fishing industry.
"To my knowledge Joel Dirlam is the most productive and influential scholar who has been associated with the URI Department of Economics," Ramstad said. "This is why we are so pleased to be able to award this prize for undergraduate research excellence in his name."
For Further Information: Yngve Ramstad 874-4113