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November 29, 2018

Braun Fellowship to boost SVSU faculty research into economics, environment

Two Saginaw Valley State University professors will expand their research through support received from SVSU’s Braun Fellowship. One research project will examine the efficiency of free market societies, while another will map invasive species at a national wildlife refuge.

Kaustav Misra, associate professor of economics, and Rhett Mohler, associate professor of geography, each will receive research support grants totaling up to $37,500 over the next three years to further their scholarly and professional activities. Funds may be used for research expenses, equipment, travel and/or other related support.

SVSU empowers students through research opportunities, and both projects will involve SVSU students serving as research assistants.

Misra's research will test existing studies and theories concluding that free market societies are more efficient than their non-free market counterparts. His project will involve researching the markets in India and Vietnam.

“The results will help institutional theorists and policy makers who are associated with policy designs, and increase the knowledge base of the field,” Misra said.                                                                             

Misra received his Ph.D. in applied economics from Mississippi State University in 2010. He joined the SVSU faculty in 2011 and now serves as the chair of both SVSU's Department of Economics; the Research and Publications Committee; and the Vitito Global Leadership Institute, a student leadership development program for students in SVSU's Scott L. Carmona College of Business & Management. His previous economics-based research has appeared in over 20 peer-reviewed journals.

Mohler's research will involve mapping two invasive plants – buckthorn and common reed – in the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, south of Saginaw. Using drone technology, he plans to continue monitoring the plants' presence as treatment is applied in the coming years. The results, he said, will inform wildlife management communities about the treatment's effectiveness.

“Research like this helps me to teach informed classes by being on the leading edge of what is being done in my research field,” Mohler said.

Mohler earned his Ph.D. in geography from Kansas State University in 2011 and joined the SVSU faculty the following year. His earlier research – dealing in part with remote sensing and geospatial analysis – has been published in peer-reviewed journals 12 times over the years.

Mohler's studies have connected him with a number of environmental groups in the region. He is a member of both the Friends of the Bay City State Recreation Area as well as the Saginaw Bay Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area.

Both Misra and Mohler plan to present their findings through articles submitted in peer-reviewed academic journals as well as presentations at conferences across the globe.

Both projects will benefit communities - both local and global - all while providing hands-on experience for the student research assistants helping the educators analyze data and manage drone technology.

Established in 2005, the Braun Fellowship program was created through a $1.5 million endowment from the Saginaw-based Harvey Randall Wickes Foundation. Administered by the Saginaw Community Foundation, the program's purpose is to recognize the exceptional accomplishments and potential of select SVSU faculty and staff. It is named in honor of Ruth and Ted Braun of Saginaw.