Loras College announces 2016 commencement speaker

María Jimena González Ramírez, Ph.D. Candidate in economics and a research assistant at the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University, Ames, will be the featured speaker during Loras College’s 177th commencement at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 21 at the Rock Bowl Stadium on the college’s campus.

“Jimena brings a fascinating and unique perspective to her field,” Jim Collins, president of Loras College, said. “She accomplished so much as a member of the Loras family and it’s heartening to see her continue to achieve such high levels of success. We’re delighted to have her return to inspire our graduates to pursue their passions.”

González Ramírez graduated Maxima Cum Laude from Loras College in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in economics and mathematics. She’s expected to receive her doctorate degree this summer and start in the fall as an assistant professor in the Department of Economics and Finance at Manhattan College in New York.

As an economist, González Ramírez’s passion for environmental economics stems from a deep concern about water quality. In her dissertation, she studies the design and effectiveness of conservation programs directed at reducing water pollution from agricultural sources.

“Overall, my research is motivated by the desire to understand the design and effectiveness of environmental programs that improve water quality and behavioral incentives for adopting new pollution abatement technologies in agriculture,” she said.

Motivated by the importance of household dynamics for the success of development policies, she also studies differences in risk preferences between spouses, and the way they may affect different household expenditure decisions in rural Cameroon, Africa.

“Looking forward, I want to continue pursuing my research interests in environmental economics, development, and their intersection with behavioral economics.”

During the summer of 2012, González Ramirez was a consultant for Econometria S.A. in Bogotá, Colombia where she was part of six-member team that evaluated a program aimed at decreasing coca production and improving farmers’ social conditions. She was also an adjunct instructor for two years at Drake University, Des Moines, where she taught Principles of Microeconomics, Principles of Macroeconomics, and Money and Banking; a teaching assistant at ISU in the fall of 2009 and spring of 2010; and an instructor leader at Loras College in the fall of 2008 and spring of 2009.

Her accolades include: James Prescott Scholarship (2015), Robert Thomas Teaching Award for Graduate Teaching Assistant (2010), and the Robert Thomas Teaching Award for Graduate Student Ambassador (2010). At Loras she received: Dean’s Top 20 (2009), Louis Ernsdorff Senior Mathematics Award (2009), Noonan Award in Economics (2009), Fitzgerald Delta Epsilon Sigma National Scholarship (2008) and Fellowship (2009), Loras College Student Leader of the Year (2008) and Loras College Honors Program (2005-2009).

The May commencement also represents the 25th anniversary of the longstanding partnership between Loras College and Santa Francisca Romana, a high school in Bogotá, Colombia. The agreement has allowed students, including González Ramírez, to enroll at Loras. The first students arrived at Loras through the agreement in 1993. There are now 50 Loras graduates as a result of the relationship.

Visit www.loras.edu, call (563) 588-7100 or (800) 245-6727, like Loras College on Facebook or follow @lorascollege for more information.