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Ryan Zalla ’17 Excels in Economics

Ryan Zalla

It’s a gratifying experience when faculty mentors and industry experts alike, affirm a student’s career aspirations. Ryan Zalla ’17 CLAS knows just that feeling.

An Economics major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Ryan submitted his paper, “Economic Policy Uncertainty in Ireland,” to the International Atlantic Economic Society's Best Undergraduate Paper Competition and was selected as one of four finalists from around the world. His paper was published in the Atlantic Economic Journal, and he presented the paper at the 82nd International Atlantic Economic Conference in Washington, D.C. last semester. He also earned first place in the Economics department’s Adam Smith award, an annual award generously funded by John Haines ’79 CLAS.

“I first became interested in economics after having read the book Freakonomics by Steven Levitt. After enrolling in Macro-Econ Theory, I was completely hooked,” Ryan says. “Economics fascinates me because it is the study of why the world works the way it does.”

Ryan’s paper provides an alternative technique for assessing business cycles in Ireland. He compiled thousands of articles from one of Ireland’s most widely circulated newspapers from 1985-2016 and created a new index of economic policy uncertainty.

“Learning how to conduct economic research was difficult…how to collect data, write code, implement econometric analysis, interpret results and most importantly how to ask the right question,” he says. “Fortunately, I had a faculty mentor who was more than willing to guide me through the process.”

Assistant professor of economics Michael Curran, PhD, advised Ryan throughout the project—a testament to Villanova’s commitment to fostering teacher-scholars. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences knows that exceptional education comes from exceptional educators, and students take part in research as early as their freshman year, regardless of their discipline.

“Dr. Curran was an incredible research advisor who guided me throughout the process,” says Ryan. “It remains the best learning experience I have ever had at Villanova and I am extremely grateful to him for his support and mentorship.”

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