BB&T Center for Undergraduate Research in Public Policy and Capitalism Awards 2014-2015 Research Grants

Statue of Jesse Mercer on the Mercer campus.

MACON – Mercer University's BB&T Center for Undergraduate Research in Public Policy and Capitalism this week announced the recipients of its latest round of grants supporting student research in economics, finance or other related areas.

The Center, which was established within the Stetson School of Business and Economics in 2009 through a generous grant from the BB&T Charitable Foundation, awarded funding to four Mercer undergraduates working on three projects.

Tyler Allee, a junior from Rome, and Jonathan Beall, a junior from McDonough, are developing a novel measure of “openness” to international trade. They will be using data on anti-dumping measures to establish both a rating and ranking of countries based on how many anti-dumping measures a country adopts in relation to its number of trading partners. Once the rating and ranking is obtained, the students plan to correlate their index with economic growth.

Allee and Beall, who are both majoring in mathematics and economics, plan to present their research at the University's Breakthroughs in Engagement, Arts and Research (BEAR) Day and at a national conference. They were awarded up to $2,000 in research and travel expenses and will work with Dr. Aleksander Tomic, associate professor of economics.

Precious Patterson, a senior from Richmond Hill, is exploring the effect of minimum wages in regional labor markets across the United States. She will be using both data on local minimum wages and data on economic freedom in metropolitan areas. Understanding the effects of a market intervention such as minimum wages could significantly contribute to the ongoing discussion aimed at understanding the foundations of a capitalist society.

Patterson, who is majoring in economics, plans to present her research at BEAR Day. She has been awarded up to $1,000 for expenses and will work with Dr. Tomic and Dr. Charlotte Thomas, professor of philosophy and co-director of the Center for America's Founding Principles in the College of Liberal Arts.

Daniel Paul Sohn Jr., a junior from Dublin, is investigating whether herd behavior exists in the U.S. housing market across geographical regions using sophisticated econometric techniques. The recent housing crisis has shown that understanding the dynamics of the real estate market is crucial for understanding the foundations of a capitalist society. This project could provide a significant contribution to that discussion, as well.

Sohn, who is majoring in finance, plans to present his research at BEAR Day and at a national conference. He was awarded up to $1,500 for expenses and will work with Dr. Geoffrey Ngene, assistant professor of finance.

“The research grant program is one of our fundamental activities,” said Dr. Antonio Saravia, assistant professor of economics and director of the BB&T Center. “Our mission is to encourage a thorough discussion of the moral foundations of capitalism through scholarly activities involving undergraduate students. There is perhaps no better vehicle to do so than to engage our students in research. The grants provide the incentive to our students to work with our faculty in projects related to capitalism and global market forces.”

For more information on the BB&T Center for Undergraduate Research in Public Policy and Capitalism, visit

About the Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics

Established in 1984, Mercer University's Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics is named for Eugene W. Stetson, a 1901 Mercer graduate and business pioneer who leveraged the first major buyout in corporate history. 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 programs and develops entrepreneurial leaders and 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).

Kyle is the director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he coordinates hometown and university news releases and serves as editor of the News@Mercer e-newsletter and Reach magazine.​