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Flint Hills donation supports UAF experimental economics lab

Submitted by Carla Browning
Phone: (907) 474-7778


Photo caption below.
UAF photo by Todd Paris
Chancellor Jones accepts a check for $166,000 from Jeri Wigdahl and Jeff Cook from Flint Hills Resources Alaska.

A $166,000 gift from Flint Hills Resources Alaska will fund two experimental economics projects in the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Management.

Flint Hills representatives Jeff Cook and Jeri Wigdahl presented the gift to UAF Chancellor Steve Jones last week, bringing the company's support of UAF to more than $209,000 since July 2006.

The majority of the donation will support projects designed to study decision-making behaviors. The gift will also fund portable computer lab equipment, graduate student positions.

The donation will fund a study by Joe Little, an associate professor of economics and former firefighter. He plans to examine the relationship between the level of information a person has about fire risk and the decisions they make to reduce potential financial losses to themselves and others.

The gift will fund a study by Doug Reynolds, economics professor and former lead economist with the Legislature. He will explore how individuals respond to taking financial risks when their decisions may affect a larger group. This study could help explain the decision-making dynamics of boards and committees.

"This research goes beyond the basics. We're hopefully providing for things when state funding isn't always there," said Cook. "So much of the research has practical application; it's easy to see the value. " We make risk and policy decisions every day in business, fire protection and in our practical lives."

Both projects include collaboration with experts in the field of experimental economics, including Vernon Smith, Nobel Laureate and former Rasmuson economics chair at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Little and Reynolds will also work with Jim Murphy, the current Rasmuson Chair of Economics at UAA. The researchers expect to have results this spring.

Flint Hills financially supports UAF K-12 education programs at the UA Museum of the North, undergraduate research, a student economics club, tuition and needs based-grants, and Alaska Nanook athletic programs. In addition to funding the basketball hoops and providing hospitality to our home team during the 2006 BP Top of the World tournament, the company also sponsored the Classic Championship game.

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