Welcome to the Department of Economics at Iowa State University. We provide the intellectual home to a set of dedicated and talented faculty, motivated and extremely capable staff, and a diverse group of enthusiastic undergraduate and graduate students.

Read more about the department.

What is Economics?

Economics is the study of what individuals, institutions, and economic systems do, or should do, as they deal with the problem of satisfying virtually unlimited wants with scarce resources. Economics deals with choices and optimization, typically embedded in a market system where the notion of equilibrium is essential and where prices play a crucial role. Economics provides a logical and ordered way of looking at a wide variety of issues, and the principles of economics are finding growing applicability in a number of fields. An  understanding of economic concepts can provide substantial personal and social benefits.


Hieu Nguyen presents research at state capitol

Hieu Nguyen, a junior in finance, economics and math, presented his work on marginal tax rates and its implications on housing prices at the state capitol on March 24th.

The annual event, "Research in the Capitol," was coordinated by the University Honors Program and highlights the importance of research to the undergraduate learning experience. Hieu has been working with his research mentor, Dr. Peter Orazem.   See more at

Consortium tries to save the monarch butterfly

Conservation groups, agricultural interests and researchers are joining to launch a statewide effort aimed at reversing the rapid decline of monarch butterfly populations.

Efforts are underway with the planting of 10,000 seeds of nine milkweed species in ISU greenhouses. The seedlings will be transplanted into demonstration plots on 13 research farms, where researchers will study how they grow, proliferate and adapt. Researchers also will monitor butterflies in the plots from egg and larvae through adult stages.

Nick Onken, an Iowa State University student majoring in agricultural business, inspects milkweed seedlings last week at an ISU greenhouse. About 10,000 seedlings of nine different milkweed species will be transplanted into small demonstration plots on 13 ISU research farms as part of research conducted by the newly organized Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium

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Daniel Oh to speak at Thursday's Econ club

Daniel Oh, CEO and president of Renewable Energy Group, holds an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago with concentrations in finance, accounting and strategic management, as well as a B.S. with a concentration in economics from the United States Military Academy. Mr. Oh serves as a director for the Ames Economic Development Commission and will be the speaker at the Econ Club's meeting at 6:00 pm on Thursday, April 2, in 360 Heady Hall.

Huffman: Consumers willing to spend more for biotech products

New research from an Iowa State University economist found consumers were willing to spend more for genetically modified potato products with reduced levels of a chemical compound linked to cancer.

Wallace Huffman, Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture and Life Sciences who contributed to the project, said the findings underscore the importance of efforts to educate consumers on the use of biotechnology in the production of healthful food.

“This is a complicated issue so it’s important for consumers to get information on how the technology works and its potential benefits,” Huffman said.

Acrylamide is a chemical compound that studies have linked to the formation of cancer in animals, and the FDA has encouraged Americans to cut back on foods that contain the substance. It accumulates naturally in starchy foods cooked at high temperatures, such as roasted nuts and coffee beans or the crusts of bread. Potato products like french fries and potato chips make up the biggest source of acrylamide consumption in the United States, Huffman said.

Three agricultural business students to attend conference

Each year the Iowa Farmers Union allocates spots for ISU students interested in cooperatives to attend the National Farmers Union’s College Conference on Cooperatives held in Minneapolis. The conference, with support from the CHS Foundation and other partners, features tours of housing, retail and marketing cooperatives and presentations by cooperative leaders from throughout the United States representing a variety of industries. It’s a conference intended to be beneficial both to beginning students of co-ops and to students with some previous co-op education.

This year Iowa State University selected three agricultural business students to attend: Meghan Mills (junior), Travis Meisgeier (sophomore), and Natalina Sents (junior).

Reception honors 2014 James R. Prescott Scholarship awardees

Congratulations to scholarship recipients Jimena Gonzalez Ramirez, Jonathan McFadden, and Pan Liu! The scholarship was established to recognize graduate students who demonstrate creativity in their research. It was presented by Jeri Prescott on behalf of her husband, former Emeritus Professor James R. Prescott, who passed away in September 2012.

Software assists farmers with crop maintenance

Michael Koenig (’12 ag and life sciences education) Holden Nyhus (’13 ag and life sciences education) and Stuart McCulloh (’13 ag and life sciences education) created Scout Pro as a class project in a CALS agricultural entrepreneurship course in 2011. The group was named Entrepreneur of the Year as part of the first-ever Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge last week receiving $30,000 in prize money to implement the business idea, which is software to assist farmers with crop maintenance. The Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative is a joint program of the American Farm Bureau Federation and Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business.

Competition to debut at the 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting in San Francisco

The purpose of the new competition is to provide a forum for undergraduate students to showcase their ability to address real world problems in agricultural and applied economics using a spreadsheet, as well as celebrate their success as experiential learners.Competition debuts at AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, San Francisco.

1st place - $400 to the student, a plaque, and recognition at the AAEA Annual Awards Ceremony

2nd place - $200 to the student

3rd place - $100 to the student.

Iowa State University Part of Grant to Improve Ag Policy in Ghana

Iowa State University has joined a partnership to improve agricultural policy making, policy analysis and implementation in the African country of Ghana. The work is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through its Feed the Future Agriculture Policy Support Project. Iowa State joins Chemonics, an international development company; the Centre for Policy Analysis, a non-governmental think tank in Ghana; and the Ghana Institute of Management and
Public Administration on the four-year, $15 million grant.

The ISU component of the project is led by John Beghin, professor of economics and a researcher in the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, and Manjit Misra, director of the Seed Science Center who leads the Global Food Security Consortium. Iowa State’s subcontract in the grant is worth $1.145 million.

This project is called the Ghana Feed the Future Agricultural Policy Support Project. It is a capacity building project that will focus on policies affecting seeds and fertilizer use, and smallholder subsistence farming.

Ghana’s agriculture sector represents 30 percent of its gross domestic product and 50 percent of its employment, but is not growing at a pace needed to eliminate food insecurity. This project is designed to complement other USAID efforts by supporting measures where the political will for reform connects with the constraints facing agribusinesses.

Friday's Agricultural Economics Workshop/Econ 693 Presentations: Wei Zhou and Yixing Peng

Wie Zhou: Estimating the Impact of Ethanol on Corn Prices Using the Competitive Storage Model;
Yixing Peng: Impact of Soil Moisture and Temperature on Corn Yield in the US Midwest
Friday, March 27, 3:40-5:00 pm, 368A Heady

Upcoming Seminars

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Consider the possibilities of a graduate degree in economics. Read student stories here.