Friday, September 29, 2017

OSCAR Student Nathan Graham Studies How Regulatory Policy Can Interfere with Entrepreneurial Activity

As an economics student, I am keenly interested in what factors are most important in driving economic growth. As a result, I recently became interested in studying the economics of technology and innovation and, in particular, how regulatory policy can interfere with entrepreneurial activity and constrain growth. I believe that it is important, when crafting policy, to recognize that good intentions do not guarantee good outcomes and to use data to analyze potential unintended consequences.

This research project was originally the brain child of my research mentor, David Lucas, an economics Ph.D. student at George Mason University. Our project aims to identify the economic effects of digital privacy regulations. Specifically, we are looking at the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and trying to determine how recent rule changes from the Federal Trade Commission will affect entrepreneurs and firms that work in the digital space. 

We are looking at data on U.S. businesses, both employment and total number of firms. -By breaking the data down into industry sectors, we are using a difference-in-difference approach to attempt to isolate the effect that the recent changes in COPPA rules have had on employment and firms entering the market. We will also attempt to compile similar data on businesses in countries with similar economies, in order to compare with the U.S. We suspect that the increased compliance costs associated with the stricter COPPA rules are raising the barriers to entry for entrepreneurs and making it more difficult for small firms to compete. By the time we are done with this project, we hope to analyze the literature on the economics of privacy and the effects of regulatory compliance, and to contribute to this work by analyzing the economic effect of COPPA regulations.

OSCAR Student Alexis Garretson Investigates Community Recovery from Hurricane Katrina

As a summer URSP student, I am working under Dr. Stefanie Haeffele-Balch investigating the determinants of federal disaster aid after Hurricane Katrina. Dr. Haeffele-Balch and her colleagues at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University have been investigating the causes of community recovery from Hurricane Katrina as part of the Gulf Coast Recovery Project for the past few years. The aim of my summer project was to use the recently-released Federal Emergency Management Association data on the Individuals and Households Program and investigate what social determinants affected the amount of funding received by different communities. The Individuals and Households Program provides assistance to people affected by a disaster to address needs and expenses not met through other forms of disaster assistance or insurance. IHP often covers costs related to personal property compensation, medical care, dental care, and funerals. The goal of this program is to help individuals and families most at risk after a disaster, especially those without insurance. However, prior literature has suggested that FEMA is limited in determining how to allocate resources after a disaster. Furthermore, many researchers have argued that vulnerable populations (in terms of income, education, disability, political capital, and other such factors) are less likely to receive assistance. This summer, I reviewed the prior literature on individual and community disaster recovery in order to determine what demographic factors led to post-disaster struggles to recover. This literature review has guided our selection of variables to investigate as potential factors that could have affected the aid received by a community. Through this process, we decided to investigate a range of demographic features (for example, average education level, average number of adults per household, voter turnout, and community racial makeup) and spatial variables (distance from medical centers, flood levels, and dependency on nearby communities). Over the next few weeks, we will use spatial econometrics to investigate the relationship between these variables and IHP funding. Through this project, we hope to learn more about how FEMA allocates funding after disasters, and how we can better ensure that post-disaster support reaches those most in need. I have learned a lot through this project, and read more papers than I can count! The summer URSP program has given me the chance to explore my interest in community resilience, crisis response, spatial econometrics, and learn key skills that will help me in graduate school and beyond.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

OSCAR Student Dylan Van Vierssen and the Peter Ritter Transcription Project

I wanted to work a position this summer that involved music, and when I saw that there was a research position with Dr. Guessford as a mentor, I put in my application. I feel like being able to do musical research, along with working with a team, can push me further towards potentially working within the music industry. What do you actually do on a weekly basis? On Monday through Friday, I come to George Mason and meet up with my team. During a typical workday, I will look at the manuscripts of Peter Ritter's music and enter in the notation on my software, Sibelius. Some movements of music may take half an hour to an hour, and some may take a full workday to complete, depending on the length of the piece and how many instruments there are. Most of the other time is spent reading about and researching his general life, along with performance practices and musical styles of his time period. I would also work on my research question, and look to address the significance of his role in classical music. I discovered that there are only a few performances of Ritter's works following his death, which contributes to my understanding of why details of Ritter have failed to previously come light. There are as many as seven recorded performances from the time of his death in 1846 to when the Library of Congress acquired Ritter's manuscripts in 1911.

OSCAR Student Nicole Hatcher Performs Literature Analysis and Coding for Excel Tables

Hello, my name is Nicole and I am an undergraduate student here at George Mason University. This summer I was able to have the opportunity to work with George Mason Nutrition and Food Studies Department. Working with the Nutrition and Food Studies Department at George Mason interested me, as it would lead me to expand my knowledge and understanding of nutrition research. The internship through OSCAR brought on new adventures with learning how to code data and read through many published works to help my partner and I construct our own research question. The summer internship brought forth new knowledge and work ethic. From my internship I hope I can take what I have learned and carry that new knowledge with me when I work in the healthcare field.

This summer my research project was a partner project with another undergraduate student. During the internship, my partner and I would work on literature analysis while also coding data for our excel tables. Every week we would have different goals to meet, and our mentor, Dr.Slavin, would work alongside us to make sure we were headed in the right direction with our research.

From this opportunity to work alongside so many wonderful individuals it allowed me to see how research is conducted and how hard it is at times. I have a new appreciation for research, since it is something that takes a lot of time and patience. The research conducted this summer by our team was challenging at times, but seeing the results and interpreting the data at the end was worth it, since we were able to see the results of our research question.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

OSCAR Student Regine Victoria Conducts a Study on Nutrition

Hi, my name is Regine Victoria and I am a Communications major with a focus in Journalism and a double minor in Photography and Multimedia graduating in May 2019.
I’ve always had an interest in nutrition and health, but seldom did I ever receive an opportunity to pursue an in-depth look at it—until this past spring semester. I was finally able to attend a nutrition course! As the semester came to a close, my disappointment in the discontinuation of the curriculum started to surface. But during the final weeks, I received an email in my inbox about a research opportunity during the upcoming summer on nutrition. Next thing I know, I’ve applied and been accepted.

The skills, knowledge, and research I’ve acquired and conducted over the course of the past ten weeks can be useful well beyond this project.  As communications major with a focus in journalism, research is a skill key to my future career. Additionally, nutrition is useful beyond research and writing papers. It’s an essential field of knowledge to learning to eat healthier and to lead a healthier life in general and I can take everything I’ve learned and apply it both to my life and spread what I’ve learned to others.

The work I conduct on a weekly basis is a combination of research, analysis, and writing. I continuously had to search through databases and read articles in order to give myself background knowledge, find areas in which my research would fill the knowledge gaps, and look for papers to support my study. Much of my work involved coding and I had to constantly learn and relearn how to code we gathered from data bases so we could analyze the data.

This project has helped me discover and uncover my unknown love for coding. It was very frustrating when I got stuck or I didn’t know what to do or I didn’t get a result that I wanted, but whenever I was able to figure it out and have a breakthrough, especially times when I did it on my own without outside help, it was the most fulfilling and satisfying feeling.