The appeal to solving real world problems
As a freshman undergrad, Alicia Rosburg knew that she liked math and had an aptitude for it - but she couldn’t envision how she would apply it to a career. A "lightbulb" suddenly went off for her when she took Econ 101, and Alicia says she was "affected by the chance to use math to solve real-world problems."
Today, she's a fourth-year PhD student in the Department of Economics at ISU with an emphasis in environmental economics. The area was interesting to her because it was relevant to current issues such as biofuels and sustainability.
"I like to take the skills that I've gained and help evaluate and solve problems. That's why I enjoy economics," she says.
Opportunities for women
Overall, there are fewer women working in economics, yet Alicia says she’s seen strong role modeling from the "prominent and inspirational women" in the department.
She says that Professor Leigh Tesfatsion encouraged her to pursue a PhD, "and to be very confident." And she also likes the "impressive balance between work and family life" demonstrated by several female faculty in the department.
"As a woman, I feel it's important to have a support system," she says. "People in our department invest in you and really want to see you succeed."
Connecting with students
Alicia grew up near Ames but had never planned to stay in Iowa long-term. However, when she looked into the Department of Economics at ISU she felt it was a good fit.
"We have strong environmental and agriculture programs here that cross over so you get the best of both worlds," she says. "We have top researchers and resources which provide the opportunity to be an integral part of the field."
Throughout her studies, Alicia has also discovered that she has a knack for teaching. In the fall, she'll start a position as an assistant professor at the University of Northern Iowa to teach and conduct research in environmental economics.
"I've seen several undergraduate students who are scared of or intimidated by economics. I like to help make the discipline enjoyable for them by connecting it to everyday things," she says. “Teaching also gives me a chance to connect with people outside of research."