Undergraduate Research

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ACE Undergraduate Research Award

Who is eligible? Junior or Senior ACE majors.

What research is eligible? The research product must be an original research paper that generates new knowledge (though it need not be a major enough contribution to be published in an actual professional journal). The student must have done enough of the work himself or herself to warrant primary authorship. A student may only submit his or her research for consideration for the award once.

When are submissions due? Submissions are due on Wednesday, March 28, 2018 to Professor Craig Gundersen
How do students submit their research for consideration?  Each student should send the following materials via email to the Director of Undergraduate Programs:

(1) A filled-in copy of the Submission Form for ACE Undergraduate Research Award.
(2) A research paper which is a maximum of 30 double-spaced pages (not including figures, tables, and references.)

The paper should have a separate title page. References, tables, and figures should be placed after the text of the paper in that order. Professional presentation of the student’s work is essential.

There will be one first place prize, one second place prize, and as many Honorable Mentions as the committee decides to award in a given year.

Awards will be announced two weeks after the submission deadline and recognized at  the College ACES Undergraduate Awards Reception of and the final ACE faculty meeting of Spring, 2018.

If you have done independent research that has generated new knowledge, please submit it for consideration!

Past ACE Undergrad Research Award Recipients

2017 ACE Research Award Winner: Zicheng Jin

Zhicheng Jin’s research was entitled Real Estate Versus Consumption: Empirical Research on China’s Urbana Areas. Professor Amy Ando supervised his research.  His paper used cross-sectional data from 45 major Chinese cities to examine the relationship between the real estate market and household consumption in China. The result showed that growth in real estate prices negatively affected consumption in the 15 largest cities.  The relationship remained unclear for the other 30 cities in his study.

Zhicheng concentrated in Agribusiness Marketing and Management as an ACE student.  Following graduation Zicheng received a $25,000 scholarship to continue his studies at Tufts University in Massachusetts where he is pursing a graduate degree in Economics.       

2016 ACE Research Award Winner: Kolten Postin

Kolten Postin's award-winning research was entitled The Effects of Varying Grain Rental Agreement on a Central Illinois Grain Farm. Professor Gary Schnitkey supervised his research and Brad Zwilling of FBFM also provided helpful assistance. Kolten concentrated in Agribusiness Markets and Management as an ACE student. His first position following graduation is working in a commodity trading position with Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). Kolten is from Moweaqua, IL.

2015 ACE Research Award Winner: Jacqueline Douglas

Jacqueline Douglas's research was entitled What Factors Influence the Allocation of Chicago's Stormwater Management Spending Amongst Wards? She is from Lockport, IL and concentrated in Public Policy and Law while a student in the ACE Department. Her faculty supervisor was Professor Amy Ando. Following graduation Jacqueline enrolled in law school at Elon University of Law in Greensboro, NC.

2014 ACE Research Award Winner: Angela Hamann

Angela Hamann of Homewood, IL was the first undergraduate to be the recipient of the prestigious award. Angela studied Environmental Economics and Policy in the Department of ACE. The faculty member that supervised Angela's research was Professor Brenna Ellison. Angela's research was entitled  Consumers' Willingness to Pay for Cleaning Products Containing Environmentally-Friendly Claims.

Angela continued her studies at the graduate level at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the ACE Department.  She earned her Master's Degree in Agricultural and Consumer Economics in 2016 and is now working for her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at the Ph.D. level.

Other Research Done by Current or Previous ACE Undergrads

Jorian Heal (2017)
Edwardsville, IL
Public Policy and Law
A Survey of Water Law: Applications in Modern Times
Faculty Supervisor, Professor Jonathan Coppess

Sarah Sellars (2017)
Winchester, IL
Farm Management
Evaluating Changes in Non-Land Costs for Corn and Soybeans on Illinois Grain Farms
Faculty Supervisor, Dr. Gary Schnitkey

Chris Valvassori (2017)
Glencoe, IL
Financial Planning
Bridging the Gap: Millennials and Financial Advice
Faculty Supervisor, Dr. Nick Paulson

Elizabeth Wright (2017)
Champaign, IL
Environmental Economics and Policy
Added Value of Solar Panels on Residential Housing  
Faculty Supervisor, Dr. Sandy Dall’erba

Seul An Kim (2016)
Seoul, Korea
Environmental Economics and Policy
Demographic Targeting through Social Media in the Restaurant Sector – the Case of Ex-Patrial Korean
Faculty Supervisor, Dr. Peter Goldsmith

Zhiling Lin (2016)
Champaign, IL
Finance in Agribusiness
Nearby Retail Pork Price Forecast
Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Paul Peterson

Fionna Millett (2016)
Wilmette, IL
Public Policy and Law
Illinois Business Consulting Research Project
Faculty Supervisor: Whitney Smith

Madison Scanlan (2016)
Newton, IL
Public Policy and Law
College Consumers: Costs and Benefits of Greek Life on the UIUC Campus
Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Mary Arends-Kuenning

Hao Yu (2016)
Suzhou, China
Environmental Economic and Policy AND NRES
The Relationship Between the Clean Air Act and Stock Price
Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Brenna Ellison

Megan Zheng (2016)
Ann Arbor, MI
Public Policy and Law
Is Big Data a Good Investment?
Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Luis Rodriguez

Jonathan Alton (2015)
Macomb, IL
Financial Planning
Out of State and International Enrollment at the University of Illinois
Faculty Supervisor, Dr. Mary Arends-Kuenning

Qi Qi Amanda Ang (2015)
Environmental Economics and Policy
Optimal Harvest of White-Tailed Deer in Texas
Faculty Supervisor, Dr. Amy Ando

Jacqueline Douglas (2015)
Homewood, IL
Public Policy and Law
What Factors Influence the Allocation of Chicago’s Stormwater Management Spending Amongst Wards
Faculty Supervisor, Dr. Amy Ando

Carly Kenny (2015)
Glen Ellyn, IL
Public Policy and Law
Sexual Assault in Higher Education Institutions 
Faculty Supervisor, Dr. Andrea Beller

Joseph Wabick (2015)
Palos Park, IL
Finance in Agribusiness
Effects of Farmland Investments on a Diversified Portfolio
Faculty Supervisor, Dr. Bruce Sherrick

Fernanda de Barros Dias (2014)
Ponta Grossa, Brazil
Agribusiness Markets and Management
S&P 500 Individual Stock Returns Compared to Sector Returns since the 2008 Financial Crisis
Faculty Supervisor, Dr. Nick Paulson

Colleen Dumke (2014)
Elmhurst, IL
Financial Planning
Building Connections with our Students
and the Financial Planning Industry

Faculty Supervisor, Dr. Angela Lyons

James (Max) McWilliams (2014)
Rolling Meadows, IL
Consumer Economics and Finance
Technology and Banking in Nigeria
Faculty Supervisor, Dr. Angela Lyons

Mengzhu (Kaia) Wang (2014)
Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China
Agricultural Accounting
Publically-traded Fertilizer Companies' Performance since 2000
Faculty Supervisor, Dr. Paul Ellinger

Jessica Wasser (2014)
Wheaton, IL
Consumer Economics and Finance
The Influence of Food Insecurity
on Consumers’ Financial Management Behavior

Michael Carter (2013)
Arlington Heights, IL
Environmental Economics and Policy
Bringing Interactive Digital Signage to the ACES Library
Faculty Supervisors,Dr.  Jason Emmert and David Gerstenecker

Huan (Violet) Chen (2013)
Mianyang, SiChuan Province, China
Agricultural Accounting
Impact of Earnings Guidance on Market Expectation and Real Performance of Agribusinesses
Faculty Supervisor, Dr. Paul Ellinger

Yueyin Huang (2013)
Schenzhen, Guangdong Province, China
Agricultural Accounting
Earnings Management Existed in Agribusiness Companies
Faculty Supervisor, Dr. Paul Ellinger

Yangyang (Kathleen) Li (2013)
Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China
Financial Planning
Cultural Differences and Entrepreneurship – A Comparison Study of Entrepreneurs in the US and China
Faculty Supervisor, Dr. Paul Ellinger

Neal Reed (2013)
Bloomington, IL
Consumer Economics and Finance
Explaining Food Insecurity: From a National to Local Perspective
Faculty Supervisor, Dr. Craig Gundersen
 Orville G. Bentley Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research Recipient

Sharon Wyskiel (2013)
New Lenox, IL
Public Policy and Law
Conducting a Cost Analysis for the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) Tech Transfer Team
Faculty Supervisor, Dr. Kathy Baylis

Jiaxin Xu (2013)
Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China
Agricultural Accounting
American, Korean, Chinese College Students’ Media Usage and Its Influence on Academic Performance
Faculty Supervisor, Lucinda Morgan

Rachel Zook (2013)
Springfield, IL
Agribusiness Markets and Management
Consumer Preferences in Wine
Faculty Supervisor, Dr. Brenna Ellison


Research courses for advanced undergrads and MS students:

ACE 592ER: Economic Research Methods (Fall only)

ACE 592ER prepares advanced undergraduates and Master's students to do independent research in economics. Students develop and achieve personalized research goals for themselves; undergraduates are likely to complete an entire draft research paper, while Master's students are likely to complete a proposal for their thesis research.  Students learn important topics and skills in economic research such as:

  • the art of developing a good research question
  • how to carry out iterated literature reviews through the research process
  • research ethics
  • protocals for research with human subjects
  • responsible data management
  • how to wreite an effective research article or proposal in the style of an economist

Credits: 3 for undergraduates, 4 for graduate students
Course schedule: Meets twice a week for an hour and 15 minutes
Prerequisite: None for MS students; undergraduates must be at least of junior standing, have completed a statistics or regression analysis class with a grade of B or higher, and obtain permission from the instructor.

ACE 471: Consumer Economic Policy (Fall only)

ACE 471 is a research course, which is part of the Ethnography of the University Initiative. Students research a policy-relevant issue that affects students at the University of Illinois. They learn how to formulate  a research question, conduct focus groups, write an online survey, and analyze qualitative and quantitative data. Students will get experience writing research papers that will help them in future courses that require projects and papers. Former students have reported that they have put their research experience in ACE 471 on their resumes and discussed it in interviews. Students have the opportunity to archive their papers in the IDEALS database, which is available through the University of Illinois library. The papers written in earlier classes have been downloaded thousands of times. 

Credits: 3 hours
Course schedule: Meets twice a week for an hour and 20 minutes
Prerequisite: ACE 100 or equivalent and junior standing

ACE 335: Food Marketing and Behavior

ACE 335 explores the food choices consumers make and what this means in the food and agribusiness industries. Students will also learn how to conduct basic research related to consumer behavior, including developing a research question, designing high quality surveys/experiments, and analyzing data.

Credits: 3 hours
Course Schedule: Meets twice a week for an hour and 20 minutes
Prerequisite: None