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Student Spotlight

Graduate Student Spotlight: Laura Schumacher

Laura Schumacher

An upcoming graduate of the NC State Master of Economics program, Laura Schumacher has used her passion for climate change solutions to excel in her studies. She has also taken advantage of opportunities to collaborate with faculty, most notably on a project with Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist Heidi Schweizer

Read on to learn more about Schumacher’s experience in our graduate program.

Why did you choose the NC State Master of Economics program?

I was initially drawn to NC State’s Master of Economics program because of its focus on the interdisciplinary nature of economics. Being part of two departments in two different colleges, the program offers a wide field of expertise in various areas of economics. My main interests have been in natural resource and environmental economics, one of the concentrations available to graduate students.

Since first seeing “An Inconvenient Truth” in middle school, I’ve been passionate about climate change solutions. This led me to major in environmental studies during undergrad. Although, it wasn’t until I took an intro to microeconomics course as part of my core requirements that I realized how important the theory of economics was to finding and implementing sustainable long-term climate change solutions. 

After that introductory course, I decided to double major in environmental studies and economics. When looking at grad school programs after working for some time post-graduation, I knew that it was important to me to find a program that not only taught the theoretical side of economics but also focused on application. This was exactly what I found to be true about NC State’s Economics Program.

Can you tell us about your research?

I have been fortunate enough to work with Dr. Schweizer on a project funded by the North Carolina Small Grains Growers Association entitled “Advancing Sales and Marketing Opportunities for North Carolina Wheat.” Its primary objective is to collect information about the current marketing practices and all potential marketing channels for North Carolina soft red winter wheat to increase market transparency for market participants. 

I have been able to use the work that I have done on this project to write my master’s thesis on the North Carolina small grains handling industry. One of the biggest aspects of this project has been surveying small grains buyers in North Carolina. I have learned a lot about survey design best practices, administering surveys and analyzing survey results to find key insights. 

While working on this project, I competed in the 2022 AAEA Graduate Student Extension Competition in Anaheim, California. This was a great experience in which I shared our research and gained expert feedback while learning about other extension projects.

What are your goals for the rest of your time at NC State and after graduation?

Currently, I am in the final stages of my thesis and expect to graduate in May. My career goals are to work as an analyst or consultant using data-driven approaches to inform sustainable policies and solutions to climate change, whether in a research institute, NGO or private industry.

What stands out the most about your time in the NC State Master of Economics program? 

The depth of expertise in NC State’s faculty and seminars. There are always a variety of engaging seminars to attend in various fields of economics.

Do you have any advice for those considering a Master’s in Economics at NC State?

Talk with your professors about their research and your career goals. I have found that my professors have always been willing to help students. They are happy to discuss their research and how it may align with your interests. One of the biggest assets of this program is the diverse knowledge of its faculty.

To learn more about our economics graduate programs, visit our Graduate Programs page.