What do prostitutes in Nevada and strategies on marketing energy conservation have in common?  Both have been studied by Colorado College students with the help of the Van Skilling award.

The full title of the award, The Van Skilling Awards for Independent Work in Economics and Business, is a bit of a mouthful, but gets across its intention.  The $500 award allows students to achieve more in their economics

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research, whether it’s buying existing data or getting out to meet and interview people.

In the past, the money has been used to purchase gift cards to incentivize students to take a survey, or to purchase wine for research purposes. One student used the award to conduct interviews on the beach in Costa Rica, or, as economics professor Mark Smith put it, “meet economic agents.”

All students majoring in Economics, International Political Economy, and Mathematical Economics are welcome to apply for the $500 award.  Smith says that most often applicants are looking for the money to work on their senior thesis. Typically five to eight students apply for the award each round, of which there are two a year.  Of the applicants, about 80 percent receive the $500.  This is because the involved application process usually indicates that the student is serious about their research.

Applications for the fall round of award are due the first Friday of third block, Nov. 1.  But those still interested in the pursuing the award this year can apply for the spring application round.

The award began in 1989, when Richard Howland donated the salary he would have been paid for a block to student-researchers.  In the 1990s, Van Skilling, an alumnus from the class of 1955, decided to continue this tradition and donate his salary from teaching Block 2.  Skilling is still a visiting professor at CC, having taught Business Policy & Strategy second block with Jim Parco.

Skilling is not actually involved in the decision-making process for who receives the award. This year on the committee are Esther Redmount and Mark Smith, who helped to develop the original research award.  Smith was passionate about the impact the award makes and how it allows students to achieve things in their research that were not previously possible.  In fact, Smith was still able to recall one of the very first winners in 1989, John Duncan, who used the money to study raw log exports in the Pacific Northwest.

Shealagh Coughlin, Staff Writer

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