Phung '17 Selected for Economics Research Fellowship
May 26, 2016
BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— The Mark A. Israel ’91 Endowed Summer Research Fund in Economics
makes possible the opportunity for a student to spend the summer conducting independent
research under the guidance of a faculty mentor. This year’s recipient is Hang “Jade”
Phung ’17, an economics and mathematics double major from Hanoi, Vietnam.
Israel’s endowed gift provides a $4,000 stipend to the student. For her summer project,
Phung will investigate the determinants of foreign direct investment (FDI) in developing
countries. Several economic models suggest investment in technology and capital from
foreign corporations can help alleviate poverty, increase economic growth rates and
promote structural changes in developing countries, Phung said. FDI decisions are
made based on factors such as market size, resources (including human capital), political
landscape, infrastructure, business regulations and a country’s openness to trade.
“By utilizing panel data, I want to investigate the significance of these factors
on FDI to developing countries,” said Phung. She said taking courses with Chair and
Associate Professor of Economics Ilaria Ossella-Durbal, who will serve as Phung’s
mentor for the project, has encouraged her interest in developmental economics.
“I was born in a developing country and I have traveled to many countries in the world,
but there is nowhere like Vietnam,” Phung explained. “I want to make my research experience
valuable and applicable to my country.”
After graduation from Illinois Wesleyan Phung plans to apply to graduate schools with
developmental economics programs. She said she is fascinated by the application of
development economics to policymaking, and ultimately would like to work in public
policy for the Vietnam Ministry of Industry and Trade.
A 1991 graduate of Illinois Wesleyan, Israel endowed the summer research fund in economics
as a testament to the importance of his own undergraduate research experience.
“One of the very best parts of my Illinois Wesleyan experience was the chance to get
my first taste of real, topical economic research, working in close collaboration
with multiple members of the economics faculty, including Mike Seeborg, Bob Leekley
and Margaret Chapman,” said Israel. “Through this gift, I’m giving one student per
year a chance to realize a similar experience, which just seems like the right way
to pay something back for all that those experiences did for me.”
After graduation from Illinois Wesleyan, Israel worked for State Farm Insurance before
earning a Ph.D. in economics at Stanford University. Israel is currently senior managing
director for Compass Lexecon, one of the world’s leading economic consulting firms,
and based in Washington, D.C.