Undergraduate Profiles

Ryan Kellner ‘18

Ryan Kellner ‘18

A family friend suggested Ryan Kellner look into Johns Hopkins. He did, and found “a unique space where I could carve out my own niche in studying both law and economics. It was the only school I found that allowed me almost total academic freedom. My curriculum over my four years reflected that flexibility. I took classes in everything from political science, to philosophy, to computer science, to, of course, economics.”

Ryan majored in Economics, and, unusually perhaps, did not pursue other majors or minors because he wanted to be able to choose a range of courses across the university.  “I had a sense that I wanted to attend law school coming into Hopkins, but I wanted to diversify. The Economics Department provided the opportunity to attack typical legal problems, like crime and antitrust issues, through a new set of tools.  The upper level classes had incredibly small class sizes, which led to great discussion and strong relationships with my professors. My senior year classes were some of my favorites for these reasons.”

Outside of class, Ryan captained one of Hopkins’ Mock Trial Teams, led a group of tutors in Hopkins’ Jail Tutorial Project, and served as a research assistant at the Poverty and Inequality Research Lab.

Ryan worked in several legal internships, but found that he often drew on his economic toolkit.  He is currently working for the District Attorney’s Office in Manhattan as a paralegal, hoping this opportunity will help him decide if law schools is the right choice. “The Economics Department instilled in me a love for antitrust issues (particularly Professor Hamilton’s Economics of Antitrust course), and practicing antitrust law would be a great way to satisfy my legal and economic interests.”

What advice does Ryan have for potential economics majors?

“Study hard and meet with professors often.   Study math and make sure you can write well. All of these skills will be important moving forward.”

Peter Durham ‘18

Peter Durham ‘18

Peter grew up in Western Maryland and chose to attend Johns Hopkins both because of the location and because of the emphasis on academic research. He completed a double major in Economics and German.  “Economics is a widely applicable subject that can be useful in many different fields. As someone who entered Hopkins undecided, Economics was a good fit and helped me find direction throughout my college career.”

Peter’s favorite aspects of economics classes were the small sizes in the upper-level courses as well the wide variety of options available. From majoring in Economics, Peter learned:  “how to approach problems critically, especially when trying to rationalize behavior. I also developed skills in quantitative analytics as well as modeling.”

In his junior summer and senior year, Peter worked as a research assistant for the Poverty Inequality Research Lab where he conducted quantitative research on public housing programs.   This led to a senior thesis, advised by Professor Nick Papageorge, faculty in the Economics Department, and Phil Garboden, graduate student in the Sociology Department, investigating the impact of increasing fair market rates on the segregation levels of section 8 voucher holders. “Writing the thesis provided me with the invaluable experience of conducting independent research and helped me integrate economic concepts and skills that I learned in my economics classes.”

During his time at Hopkins, Peter also enjoyed serving on the executive board of Alpha Kappa Psi, a co-ed business fraternity and working as an analyst for Students Consulting for Non-profit Organizations. He was treasurer of the Medical Translation and Interpretation Initiative, whose mission is to improve the means of communication between patients and health -care providers.

After graduation, Peter will be working as an analyst for Merkle, creating digital marketing solutions to aid clients. “My work with Merkle will combine my interests in quantitative analysis with marketing and business. Ultimately, I hope to pursue a career in either advanced analytics or to transition into management positions where I would lead teams through rapidly changing business environments.

Advice for potential Economics majors? “Push yourself out of your comfort zone and try courses across the wide range offered by the Economics department. Don’t specialize before you’re certain you’ve found the field/discipline for you.”

Peter, we couldn’t agree more!

Molly Elder ‘18

Molly Elder ‘18

Molly hails from Seattle, Washington. A big part of her decision to attend Hopkins was that she wanted to double major, and knew it would be possible at Hopkins. “I’m very glad to have had the opportunity, since I found that economics and philosophy pair very well with each other.”  Along the way, Molly picked up a math minor as well.

Molly, why did you choose Economics? “I took AP Micro in high school and it just clicked with me. I’ve known since tenth grade that econ was what I wanted to do.”

Molly particularly enjoyed the Economics of Fixed Income Instruments because it was the first economics course to make full use of her math training. “It was challenging, but also immensely satisfying to be able to apply all the pure math courses I’ve taken to my deeper interest, economics. There were only five students in the class, and I found that my success in this challenging course was contingent on working with and learning from my fellow students. Each of us had different strengths, and most of the problem sets couldn’t be solved correctly without contributions from all of us.  I really enjoyed this collaborative atmosphere, in which I could learn from other students as well as from my professor.”

Molly also threw herself into extra-curricular activities, playing rugby freshman and sophomore years, and taking active roles both in the Sexual Assault Resource Unit, and Refuel Our Future, the campaign to get Hopkins to divest from fossil fuels. She was also a PILOT leader for the introductory economics classes for several years, and was Teaching Assistant for a class in probability and statistics in her final semester.

Interning at a financial technology startup, Molly got to wear a lot of different hats. “I even got to help model possible pricing schemes. I also did a research internship with Friends of the Earth, focusing on the palm oil industry.”

Molly is currently in a PhD program at Tufts, studying Economics and Public Policy with a focus on environmental economics.  “I was pretty outdoorsy growing up, and that has translated into a strong sense of duty to do my small part for the planet. I look forward to building on all the skills and knowledge in economics, philosophy, and math that I have developed at Hopkins in my graduate work.”  Ultimately, Molly hopes to work in the field of environmental policy, using the skill set of a trained economist to positively impact the environment and on those impacted by environmental degradation.

Molly what is your advice for Economics majors?

“Go to office hours! Your TAs want to help, and working with the other students in attendance is also extremely valuable. Also, if you get a chance, take an ethics class. You’ll find it’s very relevant.”

Michael Gentile ‘18

Michael Gentile ‘18

Michael Gentile hails from Long Island, NY. While at Hopkins, he majored in Economics and Writing Seminars with a Mathematics minor.  Michael was interested in economics because he grew up around entrepreneurs, and wanted to understand the impact of both wealth and incentives on different communities.

His favorite class? “Professor Barbara’s Macroeconomic Strategies class was great for its relevance to current market events, and forecasting trends in specific regions and asset classes.” Majoring in economics, Michael was particularly appreciative of developing statistical skills, being able to critically evaluate popular opinions or texts, and understanding economies in boom and bust.

Michael had a rigorous extra-curricular schedule. He was President of Hopkins Rugby; was involved in an after-school youth sports program; a PILOT (Peer-Lead-Team-Learning) tutor for economics; and the Editor-in-Chief of Baltimore Zeitgeist, a local magazine focusing on political and economic issues at the local, national, and international level.

His internships included developing a marketable hedging strategy for ION Group, analyzing the performance of alternative investment funds for Cowen Prime Services, evaluating government IT contracts, and writing proposal for Reliasource, a local agency focusing on small business.

After graduation, Michael will be attending Brandeis International Business School to further hone his quantitative skills and study foreign financial markets.

Advice for potential Economics majors?

“Read the news outside of class.  Then apply what you learn in class.”

Michael, that is a good statement of our goal!

Madeleine “Maddy” Speale ‘19

Madeleine “Maddy” Speale ‘19

Madeleine Speale chose to study at Johns Hopkins because of its emphasis on learning outside the classroom. As an incoming student who did not know what to study, she was excited about the opportunities for research and involvement in internships. She ended up majoring in Economics and minoring in Financial Economics, Accounting & Financial Management. “I loved to look at current events through an economic lens and realized that macroeconomics gave me the tools to do that on a much deeper level. As I have progressed in my coursework, I have enjoyed learning more about the complexities of unemployment, inflation, and monetary policy in particular.”

One of Madeleine’s favorite classes was Economics of Discrimination. “The discussions in this  class were some of the most interesting conversations I have had at Hopkins – not only were we talking about wage inequality or educational trends, issues that my peers and I speak about in more casual settings, but we were also able to employ economic research, theory and data to support our ideas.”

Maddy studied abroad in Hong Kong for the Fall 2017 semester: “ It was one of my best semesters “at Hopkins.” I was constantly learning, for example, about economic development in China, travelling to other countries to get their perspective, or participating in an internship at the end of the semester. I definitely was pushed outside of my comfort zone, but I came back to school with a much better understanding of the global economy and how different some cultures are than mine.”

Maddy was the Finance Chair of the Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium and a member of the

Marshal L. Salant Investment Team. She interned at a hedge fund (Marshall Wace), and is currently a Summer Analyst in the Institutional Equity Division at Morgan Stanley.

“After I graduate, I hope to be pursuing a career in Finance, particularly in the equities division of a bank in New York.” Maddy hopes to be in an investor relations type role: “ whether that is on the Buy or Sell Side I’m not quite sure. I know I want to interact with clients on a daily basis and I am hoping to be able to use my fundamental understanding of the investing industry to communicate effectively with those clients.”

Do you have any advice for potential Economics majors?

“Take Economics of Discrimination and Econometrics!  Overall, economics professors are so helpful in talking about future coursework or career opportunities – they have been incredibly useful in my course selection process and helping me to prepare for interviews.”

Lillian “Lily” Barany ‘18

Lillian “Lily” Barany ‘18

Lillian Barany grew up in Manhattan.   She chose to study at Johns Hopkins because of the interdisciplinary nature of the majors: “I liked that there weren’t a lot of “core” courses, which meant that I would be taking classes that I actually wanted to be taking, and not wasting my time fulfilling requirements.”

Lily started out as an International Studies major, knowing that she wanted to add a second major.  Ultimately, she chose economics because she felt it would encourage her to develop quantitative as well as qualitative skills.  “I ended up being very happy with my choice!”

Lillian took both Economics of Discrimination and Econometrics in the same semester. “I took a class that examined outcomes in the labor market on the basis of gender, race and ethnicity at the same time that I took a class that taught statistical methods and analysis in economics.  In Economics of Discrimination, every week we would read a different academic article about labor market outcomes or wage gaps. My econometrics course complemented these articles; it helped me understand the methods by which an author came to a conclusion from a given set of data.”

For two summers, Lily interned at a law firm specializing in antitrust cases.  This experience helped prepare her for the course “Economics of Antitrust,” which she took fall of her senior year.  “After my internship I knew I was interested antitrust, which prompted me to enroll in the class.  And my practical experience from the internship enriched my academic experience in the course.”

Lily plans on going to law school and pursuing a career in public interest law.  This choice was partially motivated by some of the material from her economics courses: “for example, after taking “Economics of Discrimination,” I might want to help plaintiffs file class action law suits about unfair wage practices, or other types of discrimination in the workplace.”

Final thoughts?

“I would encourage potential economics majors to not only take classes focusing on finance and business, but also to take classes that have discrimination, poverty and inequality as their focus. On an academic level, learning about these concepts is intellectually invigorating; furthermore, it is imperative for college students to learn about these issues!”

Keep in touch as you pursue your career path, Lily!

Jieun Park ‘18

Jieun Park ‘18

Born in South Korea, Jieun Park chose to study at Johns Hopkins because of its reputation as research university. Jieun double-majored in chemical and biomolecular engineering and economics, and minored in financial economics. “I chose to study economics because I was interested in the field from a young age. Learning economics is a good way to learn about the world and its history. In addition, the Hopkins economics major is very flexible, so I could double major in economics. “

Jieun: “really liked classes that had some historical aspects to it. I especially enjoyed taking monetary analysis and international monetary economics. I also liked international trade and corporate finance, courses that taught me the logistics behind making decisions at a company or corporate level. “  Jieun also conducted economic research under Professor Steve Hanke and is planning to apply for law school. Ultimately, she wants to become a lawyer who can utilize both of her majors, chemical and biomolecular engineering and economics.

What does Jieu have to say to prospective economics majors?  “The Hopkins economics major is a great major to pursue because it allows a lot of flexibility. You can pursue a double major, or study abroad.  There are research opportunities and clubs that allow you to network. Many courses are small, so you can interact with professors and share your thoughts.

Final thoughts? “Although I minored in financial economics, I enjoyed other economic classes that were based on fields other than finance. Most Hopkins students who want to pursue a career in finance major in economics. But I want to let students know that there are many other fascinating subjects in economics other than finance and I hope many students try out those courses.”

Absolutely, economics covers many fields!

Helen Collins ‘18

Helen Collins ‘18

Helen Collins grew up not too far from Hopkins in Silver Spring, MD.  Johns Hopkins had been her dream school in high school, as many of her family members had either worked for, or studied at, Hopkins.

Helen majored in Economics and minored in Computer Science:  “I chose to study Economics because of how it combines deep analytical thinking with real world problems. I thoroughly enjoyed understanding how people make decisions from an economic perspective, and studying the many variables that impact consumers, businesses and the economy as a whole. Economics just seemed the perfect fit for me.”

Helen liked the way her upper level classes built upon the principles classes to create a useful toolset. “In particular, the Economics of Poverty and Inequality and the Economics of Discrimination demonstrated how econometrics could empirically measure disparities that exist between groups of people. Those two classes were fascinating because they gave me an insight into current topics in economics beyond the level of most lawmakers and news agencies.”

Outside of class, Helen was a tutor with, and subsequently supervisor for, the Johns Hopkins Tutorial Project, an organization that serves disadvantaged Baltimore elementary school students. Helen was also a member of the JHU Choral Society, becoming president in her senior year, and was a Resident Advisor in her senior year as well. “I chose these activities because of my belief in the value of community service, and to round out my experience at Hopkins with leadership roles unrelated to my field of study.”

Helen interned at a small government contracting firm that provides both software solutions and professional services to several federal agencies, as well as at a leading blockchain technology company where she was immersed in the crypto market space during one of the most exciting summers for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Currently, Helen is a business technology analyst at Deloitte Consulting LLP. “I chose to pursue technology consulting because I felt that I would be able to combine both my areas of study: economics and computer science. I wanted to retain a technical function in whatever position I took on, while being able to utilize my analytical and problem-solving skills in a functional manner.”

Helen, do you have any advice for potential Economics majors?Combine your economics studies with another field that interests you. For example, by majoring in economics and minoring in computer science, believe I have a more robust insight into technology markets and technology’s disruptive influence on the economy. There are so many paths open to Economics majors!”

Well said, Helen!

Elanor West ‘18

Elanor West ‘18

Elanor West grew up in Massachusetts, but she knew as soon as she arrived on campus at Hopkins for a tour that it was the place she wanted to be. “I easily saw myself at Hopkins, and I decided to apply Early Decision.”

Elanor graduated with three majors, in Applied Math and Statistics, Economics, and French.

Why did Elanor choose to study economics?  “I first took economics classes because I didn’t know much about the subject and thought it would be beneficial to study. Then, as I took more courses, I realized that I loved microeconomics and studying decision-making in areas like game theory and behavioral economics.”

Elanor’s favorite classes?  “Economics of Uncertainty and Information, and The Social Policy Implications of Behavioral Economics. I loved that both courses were focused on decision-making in various real-life situations, incorporating game theory and psychology into economics.” Elanor also conducted research advised by Professor John Wierman in the Applied Math department, focusing on a combination of game theory, graph theory, and probability.

While pursuing three majors, Elanor was also President of the Hopkins Figure Skating Club, an active member of the JHU Classical Ballet Company and Vice President of her sorority (Alpha Phi).  Her community service included working at Mathnasium of Roland Park as a math instructor.

Next fall, Elanor will remain at Hopkins to pursue a Master of Science in Engineering in Applied Math and Statistics: “Through combining the study of math and economics, I have learned that I love game theory. I am writing a thesis on the “Astronaut Problem” (proposed by Steve Alpern in The Theory of Search Games and Rendezvous) which combines game theory, graph theory, and probability concepts.”

Elanor loves learning and hopes to be able to pass on her knowledge to others in a career as an educator.

Does Elanor have any advice for potential Economics majors? “Take all of the lower-level courses and requirements as soon as you can, because my favorite classes were all upper-level courses with prerequisites. The upper-level courses are mostly discussion-based, engaging and inspirational, due to their smaller class sizes, and the passion of the professors.”

Chris Zhou ‘18

Chris Zhou ‘18

Chris Zhou hails from China and was attracted to Hopkins because of its world-class faculty and academic excellence in the fields he was interested in, International Studies and Economics.

Economics helped Chris understand how the world works: “Why did the Financial Crisis occur?  What are the pros and cons of trade? These are questions I had before coming to Hopkins and that my economics professors gave me insight into.”

Chris particularly enjoyed Rich Countries and Poor Countries taught by Professor Soma Dasgupta, in which he learned why certain countries perform better economically than others.

Chris pursued several extra-curricular activities at Hopkins including being a member of the Global China Connection and the Johns Hopkins International Student Office.

Chris will be using the quantitative and research skills he acquired at Hopkins to work in investment banking at Deutsche Bank in Hong Kong.  Ultimately, he is considering working as a policy adviser, consultant or governmental official.

Chris, do you have any advice for potential Economics majors?

“Finish the homework, and make sure to review before exams!”

Good advice for everyone from freshman to senior!