November 21, 2016

SVSU student’s intellect and work ethic result in outstanding research projects as undergraduate

Jenni Putz plans to go to graduate school. The Saginaw Valley State University student already has the resume of a PhD. student.

The Lapeer native is in her fourth and final year at SVSU. Putz expects to graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in economics and applied mathematics, and a resume filled with research experience rivaling many doctoral students.

Putz has researched the benefits of short-term study abroad programs with Kaustav Misra, SVSU  associate professor of economics. Their research found students’ participation in a short-term study abroad program had a positive correlation with influencing their career aspirations and leadership skills. Putz presented her initial findings at the Academy of Economics and Finance Conference in Pensacola Beach, Florida this past February.

“There weren’t many undergraduate students at the conference, and they were all in one session, while I presented to a group of people who were all professors,” explained Putz. “It was really scary at first, but it was a really interesting experience to present to people who have been doing this for years and whose job is to do research.”

As part of her research, Putz traveled to India over SVSU’s winter break on a 10-day study abroad trip within the College of Business and Management, where she observed various foreign and international businesses such as Amazon and pharmaceutical companies.

“I had the time of my life,” said Putz. “I thought it was a very valuable experience and I’d love to study abroad again. It had a huge impact on my life and I’m really glad my research is connected to that, which makes it mean that much more.”

Putz also presented her study abroad research at an undergraduate conference at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, where her paper took 3rd place among 16 competitors. She has submitted her research for publication.

With ambition to conduct additional research, in May Putz began looking at early college programs, where high school students can enroll in programs to earn college credit. She is now compiling her findings into a presentation that she is set to give in Washington, D.C. at the end of November.

Through her participation in SVSU’s honors program, Putz presented her honors thesis on a third research interest, income inequality, Friday, Nov. 11. She previously presented her findings at an international conference in Portland, Maine where she won an award for her work.

While drawing upon her own self-determination, Putz is quick to credit the support she has received from her faculty mentor and the university she calls home.

“Dr. Misra is great,” Putz said. “If it weren’t for him, none of this wouldn’t have happened, and for that I can’t thank him enough. Dr. Misra, the business faculty and SVSU as a whole care so much about helping students and helping them research. I just don’t think it’s something you’d get anywhere else.”

Putz has received financial support from SVSU’s Undergraduate Research Program. It supplied a travel grant for her trip to Florida, and provided research funds for her dual enrollment study.

“The program is something that is really valuable but something a lot of people don’t know about yet,” she said. “Dr. Misra mentioned it to me. It’s something SVSU offers that provides students with great opportunities for research whether they want to work with a faculty member or just work individually. They give you an opportunity to present your work and I think that’s really awesome.”

With aspirations to pursue a Ph.D. in economics as a graduate student, Putz is serious about her education and her research.

“I’d like to continue my research in income inequality because I’m really interested in it,” Putz said. “Hopefully that can turn into something I can write my dissertation on or work with faculty on something else pertaining to income inequality. I feel like the things I’m doing my research on are valuable to a larger pool of knowledge.”