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Mackenzie Alston is a Ph.D. candidate at Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas). 

 

 

As an incoming freshman at Washington University in St. Louis, Mackenzie Alston believed that she would one day become a Spanish professor. This changed after the very first week of school when she became fascinated with her Principles of Microeconomics course. After learning about the importance of weighing marginal costs against marginal benefits, Mackenzie found a new way to help her understand the world and how people make decisions. Unsurprisingly, she decided that she wanted to become an economics professor and changed her majors to Economics and Mathematics. (But she did keep Spanish as her minor.)

While Mackenzie was an undergraduate student, she assisted Dr. Katie Coffman with her research on women's willingness to contribute their ideas/expertise to groups as part of the Summer Research Opportunities Program in 2013. This was her first real introduction to experimental economics, the study of economics questions using experiments in the lab or field. After returning to Washington University the following fall, Mackenzie completed her own experiment on the effect of grading policies that allow students to drop their lowest test score. This project later became her first published paper.

 

As an economics doctoral student at Texas A&M University, Mackenzie conducts experiments related to education and labor market outcomes for people of different genders and races. For instance, her job market paper determines whether women are able to accurately estimate how much discrimination they will face when applying for stereotypically male jobs. This project was funded by the John Van Huyck award that she won in 2017. She also has several projects with her advisor, Dr. Catherine Eckel, and co-authors William "Sandy" Darity Jr., Lawrence McNeil, and Rhonda Sharpe to study the effect of negative stereotypes on black student performance, which have been funded by the National Science Foundation. One of these projects includes an experiment to test whether black students' test scores drop if they are subtly reminded of the stereotype that blacks aren't as intelligent as whites. 

 

Mackenzie also plans to continue to participate in the American Economic Association Summer Training Program for minority students. In 2012, she participated in the program as an undergraduate and gained valuable insight into the life of graduate school. She then returned to the program in 2016 as a Teaching Fellow/Assistant and won an award for being one of the best Teaching Fellows that year. She returned one more time in 2017 as a co-instructor for one of the math course and looks forward to one day becoming a sole instructor. 

 

Mackenzie is on the job market this year and will continue her research on race, gender, and discrimination after she graduates. To learn more about Mackenzie Alston, feel free to email her at mackenziealston@tamu.edu, visit her website at www.mackenziealston.com, or follow her on Twitter @MackenzieAlsto4.