Reflections from a Whitebox Advisors Doctoral Fellowship Recipient

Leila Bengali is a 4th year PhD student and was one of the recipients of the 2016-2017 Whitebox Advisors Doctoral Fellowship. Below she details what the funding was able to help her accomplish in her research as well as her experiences organizing the Whitebox student conference.

August 22, 2017

Being awarded a Whitebox Advisors Doctoral Fellowship was a wonderful surprise. Since then, I have had the opportunity to help organize and attend the 2017 Whitebox Advisors Graduate Student Conference, and have also been able to fund my first independent research projects.

Assisting with the conference was a valuable experience. Both during the presenter selection process and also during the conference itself, I was exposed to new ideas and methods. Moreover, these papers and presentations provided examples of successful early stage research papers that helped me think about how to present my own work. The conference also allowed me to meet graduate students in other fields and from other universities and make connections that will undoubtably prove helpful in the future. Finally, learning about the logistics of organizing a conference gave me an appreciation for the hard work involved in a well-run event.

As I enter my fourth year, I have begun several research projects made possible by the Whitebox Advisors Doctoral Fellowship. Two projects involve online studies. The first explores what affects how individuals update event probabilities when signals are sequentially revealed. I ran a small trial in the spring. The second, which is still under development, takes a closer look at recent work demonstrating consumer inattention to hidden costs and asks why such costs are ignored. My third project also explores inattention to hidden costs, particularly in the housing market. For this project, I require data from county tax assessor offices, and have been able to easily purchase the data I need for my research. Finally, in May I was able to travel to and attend the Philadelphia Behavioral Science Conference. This conference brings together academics from a variety of fields and city government employees to showcase how principles of behavioral economics and behavioral science have been used to solve problems faced by city governments. The conference is also meant to encourage new collaborations between researchers and city departments. The opportunity for this type of direct application is one of the reasons I chose to study behavioral economics. I proposed ideas to several city departments and have been discussing the feasibility of implementing some of these ideas.

I am grateful to the Whitebox Advisors Doctoral Fellowship, SOM, and ICF, and I look forward to continuing my research with this generous support.

-Leila Bengali, 4th year PhD student (Economics)

*The research efforts in the fields of behavioral economics, behavioral finance, and behavioral marketing have been helped immeasurably by the generous support of Andrew Redleaf of Whitebox Advisors.

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Leila Bengali