Featured Students

Graduate Student:

Name: Zhan Wang

Field of specialization:

Zhan's research focus on economic analysis of environment and sustainability, especially the food-land-water nexus.

GLASSNET related research projects:

Since 2019, Zhan has been working on research projects of multi-scale analysis on crop-land-water system with the Simplified International Model of agricultural Prices, Land use and the Environment (SIMPLE). His work includes developing gridded model for China and Brazil, and researching impacts from climate change, infrastructure development and conservation policies on food security, land use change and the environment. These multi-scale studies highlight the importance of integrating both global level drivers and fine-scale level heterogeneity in data, in order to achieve more comprehensive analysis. Findings have been presented at the Annual Conference on Global Economic Analysis and the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association Annual Conference.

Interesting experience at Purdue:

Besides training in economics field, Zhan is also a big fan of data science techniques. Having taken classes from computer science department and workshops, Zhan also works on applying machine learning into agricultural and environmental economics studies.

In his spare time, Zhan keeps to develop the hobby of cooking, from western to Asian style. He regards cooking as the approach both relaxing from busy daily life and also keeping healthy and tasty diet.

Graduation plan:

Currently in his fourth year, Zhan aims at opportunities in academia or researching institutes, to apply training and experience from Purdue to contribute to researching and resolving real world challenges

Undergraduate Student:

Name: Yolanda Sung


Major: Supply Chain Analytics
Minors: Computer Science & Environmental Science
Concentration: Business Analytics

GLASSNET related activities:

Currently working with Alfredo Cisneros (postdoc with Dr. Hertel) on the relationship between land use change and biodiversity loss, hopefully going to publish my first paper soon!

Interesting things about Purdue:

I'm surprised at how well Purdue made me feel about uncertainty; the old me would have never been okay with not knowing where I'm going to be in the short and long run! I never envisioned myself going from Computer Science to Supply Chain to being interested in Ag Econ, and funnily enough, I'm just going with the flow right now. Hopefully, I will figure out what it is that I want for my career.

I'm also pleasantly surprised on how open minded the professors are towards interdisciplinary studies; as someone who is interested in different topics, it's refreshing to have people who are supportive of that.

Plans after graduation:

I will be a Supply Chain Analyst at 3M; I will be working in the facility that deals with the N95 respirators, so very excited! In the long run, I'll be getting my Masters; currently, I'm thinking about Agricultural Economics, but not entirely certain.

Undergraduate Student:

Name: Gabriel Leonard

Major(s)/concentration and minor(s)/certificates:

Major: Economics Honors (B.S.) Minors: Mathematics, Environmental Politics & Policy

GLASSNET-related activities:

AGEC 528: Feeding the World Sustainably (as a student) This course was my first exposure to economic modeling as it pertains to agriculture/environmental policy. I remember being intrigued by the SIMPLE model’s ability to synthesize complex economic ideas and data sets into a relatively intuitive format. For my project, I modeled a food waste reduction policy in developing regions of Asia. After spending several semesters working to reduce food waste at Purdue, I was really excited to think about waste issues on a global scale.

Research Assistant—GLASS Lab Dr. Hertel was generous enough to offer me a spot as a research assistant with the GLASS lab. It was eye opening to learn about all the veins of research related to modeling agricultural systems/markets. I was able to contribute to a benefit/cost analysis of conservation policies in biodiverse regions.

Grader/Teaching Assistant: AGEC 528 It’s been fun to experience the 528 course from the instructor’s perspective. I think I’m able to relate to the things students struggle with and use my experiences to help when I can. Holding office hours has challenged me to explain things in the simplest terms possible, which forces me to make sure I understand the fundamental concepts inside and out. Moving forward, I plan to seek out more opportunities to teach.

Interesting things about Purdue:

I didn’t realize how many hundreds of independent projects, labs, groups etc. make up Purdue before coming here—I’ve been able to get involved in something related to nearly anything I find interesting. Seeing the amount of overlap and collaboration at the intersection of environment/economics at Purdue has been encouraging as well; in high school environment and economics tend to be presented as two disciplines at odds with one another.

(Unrelated to GLASSNET): Because so many students/faculty are STEM-focused, most of the music and arts scene is dominated by hobbyists rather than (aspiring) professionals. Because of this, there are an incredible amount of opportunities to get involved in creative outlets alongside other passionate people. This has greatly enhanced my experience at Purdue.

Plans after graduation:

I’ve accepted a full time position as a Quantitative Research Assistant for the RAND Corporation in Washington, D.C. From there I could see myself going to grad school, or searching for positions in the government/NGOs. Truthfully, I am still sorting out what direction I’d like to take my career!