Center for the Study of Economics and Liberty Awards Student Research Grants


MACON – Mercer University’s Center for the Study of Economics and Liberty recently announced the recipients of its spring 2020 grants supporting student research in economics, finance or other related areas.

The Center was founded last fall with funding from the Koch Foundation and individual donors from Macon with a mission to promote the development of scholarship and economic education rooted in the values of individual liberty, economic freedom and principled entrepreneurship.

Programming is intended to engage faculty and students at Mercer, K-12 educators in the state of Georgia and the public in general by facilitating academic dialogue and research.

The following undergraduate students were awarded up to $2,000 in funding for their research projects:

  • Gopiben Patel, senior international affairs major and economics minor, “Gender Equality and Capitalistic Beliefs”
  • Sahan Vangala, sophomore neuroscience major and economics minor, and Natalie Coolidge, junior international business major, “Beliefs about Robots and Labor Status in Latin America”
  • Sachin Khurana, senior economics, finance and management triple-major, “Time-Varying Connectedness Between Financial and Real Sectors”
  • Kalp Patel, senior finance and economics double-major, “The Impact of Uncertainty of Outcome Hypothesis Data on Viewership Levels: An Analysis of National Football League Data”

“These students submitted very promising research projects, and we are looking forward to following their progress and seeing their presentations,” said Dr. Antonio Saravia, associate professor of economics and director of the Center. “I want to thank Dr. Robi Ragan, Dr. Andres Marroquin, Dr. Allen Lynch and Dr. Geoff Ngene for advising some of these projects.”

The students will present their project at Mercer’s BEAR (Breakthroughs in Engagement, Arts and Research) Day, as well as at national conferences, such as the Association of Private Enterprise Education in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Society of Business, Industry and Economics in Destin, Florida, and the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank conference in Dallas, Texas.

The Center awarded its first round of undergraduate research grants in fall 2019. These students presented at the Economic Freedom Institute Conference at New York’s Manhattanville College in November.

  • Elizabeth Yavnel, junior economics major, “Do more capitalist individuals want to migrate? Evidence of immigration and ideology from Latinobarometro survey in 18 countries”
  • Lino Galdin, junior international business major, “How does the European Union’s economic model affect France’s economic freedom?”
  • Brycen Higdon, senior politics, philosophy and economics major, “The Price of a Polar Bear: Carbon Reduction and Opportunity Costs”

About the School of Business

Established in 1984, Mercer’s School of Business is named for Eugene W. Stetson, a 1901 Mercer graduate and business pioneer who leveraged the first major buyout in corporate history, and his grandson Robert F. (Bob) Hatcher, a Macon businessman, longtime supporter, trustee and former board chair for the University. Over the past 80 years, Mercer has granted over 12,000 business degrees, and many of its graduates hold senior leadership positions in companies around the world. Mercer’s business school delivers career-focused business education in order to develop innovative leaders who are responsible global citizens. It holds accreditation from the prestigious Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which places it among the top five percent of all top business schools worldwide. Mercer’s business school has been recognized by the Princeton Review for “Greatest Opportunity for Minority Students” and “Greatest Opportunity for Women” as well as being one of its “Best Business Schools.” In addition, it has been recognized among the “Top 15 Schools in the Nation for Marketing and Accounting.” The School offers the following programs: Atlanta (Evening BBA, Full-Time (One-Year) MBA, Evening MBA, Executive MBA, Professional MBA, Master of Accountancy, M.S. in Business Analytics), Macon (Traditional BBA and Evening MBA), Douglas County and Henry County (Evening BBA). For more information, visit