William & Mary

Past Student Research Projects

Schroeder Center research fellows and research assistants have worked in extensive partnerships with individual faculty members during the academic year and throughout the summer: 

Maryam Kanna (Economics, Class of 2014)
Project:  Role of Environmental Stress on Early Development

As a research assistant for Economics Professor Nicholas Sanders, Maryam Kanna converted non-digital birth records from the 1950s and 1960s into a usable digital format in order to better understand the role of environmental stress on in utero development and infant outcomes such as birth weight and premature birth. Maryam notes that “there is still plenty of work to be done, including several years of birth records that need to be converted from hard copy to digital formats, but it has been a worthwhile experience to be part of a rigorous empirical project.”

Ryan Buckland (Public Policy, Class of 2013)
Project:  Informal Care Provision for Elderly Parents

As a research assistant for Economics Professor Daifeng He, Ryan Buckland reviewed and analyzed existing literature on the dynamic relationship between caregiving and work, specifically whether there is evidence to suggest that rising female labor force participation has put significant pressure on the supply of informal caregivers for the elderly. Ryan commented that “this opportunity continues to benefit me during my coursework and helped me in my search for career opportunities.”  Ryan accepted a position with Booz Allen Hamilton as a consultant following graduation.

Robin Downing (Economics and Government, Class of 2012)
Project:  Research on Hospital Volume

DowningOn August 1, 2000, Medicare changed the way in which it reimbursed hospitals for outpatient services by implementing a new system called the Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS).  Years later, little is known about the effects of the new OPPS.  But researchers at the Schroeder Center are now actively involved in examining its impact on hospital volume.

Robin Downing aided the Schroeder Center in examining how the OPPS affects hospital inpatient volume during her tenure as a Schroeder Center summer research assistant to Professors Daifeng He and Jennifer Mellor.

Robin contributed to Schroeder Center research by studying Florida inpatient discharge data from 1997 to 2008 to identify, construct, and measure appropriate variables for analysis.

She noted that managing and working with large and unwieldy datasets was a great challenge and allowed her “to see the true legwork that goes into research.” Dr. Mellor commented, “It was really interesting to watch Robin's development as a researcher - she learned the importance of documenting her work very carefully, and that sometimes, you have to be flexible and creative working with data.  At the outset, Professor He and I had an idea about what we wanted to measure and how we wanted to measure it, but in some cases, the data were not structured in a way that made these measures easy to derive.  Robin helped us get what we needed by being a fast learner and a creative programmer.”

Robin believes that she gained a greater perspective as well as a “huge appreciation” for the authors of research articles. Also, through the intense use of STATA, Robin feels that she improved her programming skills, something that will be useful to her in her future career.  

Robin is now working for Deloitte Consulting in Washington, D.C.

Amy Filipek (Economics and Applied Mathematics, Class of 2012)
How Unemployment Affects Emergency Rooms

As a summer Schroeder Center Research Fellow, Amy Filipek spent many hours contributing to on-going Center research on healthcare utilization patterns during economic recessions. Researchers at the Schroeder Center are examining how different types of healthcare utilization react to increases in the unemployment rate. Amy, already an accomplished undergraduate economist and mathematician, aided Professors Daifeng He, Melissa McInerney, and Jennifer Mellor in testing their theory that recessionary shocks might lead to increases in the supply of healthcare.

RobinAmy also developed her own related research question that could be examined using the same data acquired by the Schroeder Center for on-going research on healthcare utilization and recessions. Amy was interested in the effect of unemployment on the volume of emergency room inpatients and devoted many hours in the lab exploring this relationship.

Working with large hospital discharge data sets from Florida proved to be a challenge. Amy wrote extensive code using the statistical analysis software package STATA to decipher trends in the data. She said “the files are so huge it takes days to run the program, even when the code is broken up across computers. It taught me the importance of checking my work!”

The recent recession and high unemployment rates make Amy’s research at the Schroeder Center a valuable contribution.  She believes that her experience at the Schroeder Center sharpened her data manipulation and statistical analysis skills – abilities that will be helpful to her in graduate school. Amy says, “I can write code in STATA so much faster now, so I know it will save me a lot of time in the future.”

Amy received a prestigious Regents Fellowship from the University of California, Berkeley and is working toward a Ph.D. in Economics.  

Dan Robinson (Economics and Neuroscience, Class of 2012)
Project:  Impact of Health Provider Integration on Quality of Care

In recent years, there has been significant growth in physician-hospital integration (PHI). Increasingly, fewer physicians own their own medical practice while the percent of medical practices owned by hospitals has more than doubled. This type of vertical integration has the potential to greatly impact healthcare costs, utilization, and quality.

Dan Robinson spent his summer researching the impact that vertical integration can have on the healthcare sector. Specifically, Dan questioned whether physicians who own their own practice perceive that they deliver a higher quality of care to their patients.

Dan used the statistical analysis program Stata to evaluate data from the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research, the Community Tracking Physicians Survey, and the American Hospital Association Annual Hospital Survey to find answers to his research questions. Learning the ins and outs of the program was a valuable experience for Dan after being just briefly introduced to Stata in an econometrics course.Amy and Dan

Dan also compiled an extensive literature review on physician-hospital integration exploring its causes, effects, and how it is empirically measured. The literature review will be used to aid current and future Schroeder Center research. Dan says, “being able to find and digest relevant research is an invaluable, marketable skill.” Dr. Mellor, who mentored Robinson, commented, “Dan's writing evolved so much over the summer... he really learned to write like a researcher. It takes practice to learn how to read a research study. Knowing what to look for and what details matter really helps to communicate study findings in your own words.  Dan also picked up a lot of useful data handling skills that could serve him well in future data-intensive projects.”

Whatever his future, Dan knows his enhanced skills in research and statistical analysis will prove helpful in his future endeavors.

Dan is working at Cornerstone Research in Washington, D.C.

Ashley Ingram (Economics and Sociology, Class of 2011)
Project:  Recession Effects on Medicare Beneficiaries

IngramWhen the economy dips into recession, how are Medicare recipients affected?  Does the effect vary among beneficiaries who belong to different income classes?

As a recipient of a seven week undergraduate Schroeder Fellowship, Ashley Ingram worked on answering this interesting question.

Ashley worked under the direction of Professors Melissa McInerney and Jennifer Mellor, faculty members in the economics department.

"I was intrigued by the project because past research results seemed counterintuitive-- that health would improve during recessions-- and I was excited to work with [McInerney and Mellor] to try to uncover some of the underlying mechanisms," said Ashley.

The incorporation of undergraduates into extensive research projects brings a new and fresh flavor to the work.

"Working closely with Ashley on our research project truly integrates teaching and research, enriching the experience. Ashley is a wonderful addition to our project; she has shown incredible initiative and care in her work," said Dr. McInerney.

Originally from Georgia, Ashley hopes that the fellowship will expose her to ideas and research skills related to health policy.  As she looks to graduate school or the work force, she is particularly interested pursing the connections between health, gender, and development.

Eytan Jankowitz (Economics, Class of 2011)
Project:  Health Care Utilization Due to the Implementation of the Outpatient Payment Prospective Payment System (OPPS)

During the 2010 spring semester, Eytan Jankowitz decided that he wanted to participate in research during his summer break. He received that opportunity through the undergraduate Schroeder Fellowship, a seven week research assistantship position.

"I wanted to be part of an extensive research project and see if this type of work mJankowitz Summer Felloway interest me in the future. It seemed like a great way to get a feel for the types of things I may end up doing if I go to graduate school," said Eytan.

Eytan is working under the direction of Professors He and Mellor, faculty members in the economics department. Eytan is working on a project related to changes in health care utilization due to the implementation of the Outpatient Payment Prospective Payment System (OPPS) in 2000. Included in his tasks and accomplishments, Eytan investigated OPPS and has calculated relevant hospital-specific variables. Additionally, he  gained proficiency in Stata, a statistical software program, in order to manage large and complicated datasets.

Eytan hopes that the research skills he acquired as a Schroeder Fellow will further his goal to attend graduate school in economics or public policy.