Explore Econ 2021 Scientific Committee Panel Reflection

As Explore Econ 2021 was held virtually this year, Dr Ramin Nassehi was awarded UCL ChangeMakers funding to bring on Economics students Mihir Gupta (Y3) and Khushi Kakrania (Y2) to serve on the Scientific Committee. Read on for Mihir and Khushi’s insight:

Ever since the first year of our undergraduate degree at UCL, the annual Explore Econ Conference has been among one of the landmark undergraduate research events that we have always looked forward to. This is not only because the event offers an ideal platform for both student and academic researchers to put forth their intellectually stimulating research work, but also because it resonates with the idea of putting effort outside the classroom and applying the theoretical frameworks to practical use.

This year, we had the esteem honor of serving as the two undergraduate students on the Scientific Committee Panel. This was in conjunction with the wider decision of the UCL CTaLE Team to make the final research selection process more democratic and provide undergraduate students an opportunity to have a say in the criteria as well. Consequently, as part of the Committee, our wider responsibilities included assessing the poster and paper and providing the senior academics with our suggestions on the work submitted.

It goes without saying that throughout the selection process, we were provided with immense support and guidance by our supervisor Dr. Ramin Nassehi on how to best assess, both the empirical methodologies as well as the findings in all the submissions. Additionally, we were also provided with a very comprehensive assessment framework that further added to our knowledge base and allowed us to scrutinize the submitted research work with a critical eye. We marked the submissions based on clarity of the question and answer, method of analysis, writing style, structure of the paper/poster and the engagement level of the presentation. 

In fact, having participated in the Conference as student researchers as well, we realized that there was a stark difference in terms of the two experiences. While the former required us to be thorougly focused and dedicated to the final topic we had chosen, the latter, on the other hand, required us to focus and expand our knowledge within a range of different econometric and practical techniques that the subject has to offer. Furthermore, because there was a slight overlap in terms of the wider applications of the topics that students chose this year, it was imperative that we maintain a level of consistency across the submissions.

It is also worth highlighting that we were massively impressed by the enthusiasm shown by undergraduate students across the board to take out time in the middle of their examination period. This year research by UCL students covered topical issues such as climate change, vaccine nationalism, the US-China trade war and data privacy after Covid-19. We had a lot to learn from each submission, which you can also access here – https://liveuclac.sharepoint.com/sites/exploreecon

In our opinion, this is a clear testament of not only the rigor that the Department of Economics ingrains in its students, but also the level of support that senior professors and academicians invest in the holistic development of their students by giving them the toolkit to answer any economic question in three year course. We would strongly encourage UCL students to take part in it next year as it would greatly build your confidence in undertaking independent research and showcasing it in front of an uninformed audience.

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