Debating Development

13 04 2014

On Friday, April 11, I joined faculty and students at Virginia Tech in a mini-conference to debate “Development and Humanitarianism.” The event was hosted by Prof. Brett Shadle and Prof. Patricia Nickel to bring together researchers who engage in critical examinations of development and humanitarianism, and researchers who engage in development and humanitarian work. I fall into the latter group, which is why it was a pleasure to meet Prof. Ilan Kapoor (the keynote speaker) and learn more about his postcolonial view on development. 

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Congratulations Mark Seiss!

30 03 2014

On Friday, March 28, Mark Seiss - the first “on-the-ground” statistician at Virginia Tech - successfully defended his doctoral dissertation in statistics.

Mark1Mark’s research covers several aspects of survey methodology, from questionnaire design to final estimation. His first paper develops an approach to matrix sampling designs, where a subset of questions are administered to a respondent in such a way that the administered questions are predictive of the omitted questions. The proposed methodology compares favorably to previous matrix sampling methods when applied to data collected from a household survey conducted in Nampula, Mozambique. His second paper documents how statisticians can help improve the quality of data collected from surveys by carefully analyzing the data soon after it is collected. In addition to correcting data entry errors, the approach provides surveyors with continuous support throughout the fieldwork, enhancing their training and reducing the number of errors being made as the fieldwork progresses. His final paper proposes a model-based approach to the estimation of the mean squared error associated with synthetic (indirect) estimates. Mark applied the proposed mean squared error estimation methodology to simulated data and estimates from the 2010 Census Coverage Measurement (CCM). He found that the proposed mean squared error estimation methodology compared favorably to the previous methods in the literature, while allowing for area-specific estimates.

I served on Mark’s doctoral committee with Eric Vance (committee chair), Leanna House, and Inyoung Kim.

The pictures below were taken in 2011, when Mark acted as the “on-the-ground” statistician during a household survey in rural Nampula, Mozambique.

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MCC Webinar: Impact Evaluation of the RWSA in Mozambique

27 03 2014

On Thursday, March 27, Dr. Eric Vance and I will be giving an MCC webinar to explain some of the main findings from our impact evaluation of the MCC-funded Rural Water Supply Activity (RWSA) in Nampula, Mozambique. The slides for this webinar can be accessed below.

MCC Webinar


Photo taken through Google Glass just before the start of the MCC webinar



Talk: An Introduction to Binary Economics

19 03 2014

On Wednesday, April 2, Prof. Robert Ashford will be giving an introductory talk on binary economics. His talk will focus on how the approach can address inequality, create demand for employment, and finance sustainable development. More information on the talk is provided below. 

When: Wednesday, April 2, 5:30 to 7:30pm

Description: In general, earning capacity can be enhanced by some combination of two contributions: (1) increased wages earned through employment; and (2) money earned through the ownership of productive capital (e.g., land, technology, patents, etc.). Usually, only people who already own capital are able to acquire capital with the earnings of capital; and they do so substantially in proportion to their existing wealth, which helps to explain how wealth tends to concentrate in a capital intensive economy like the USA. Binary economics reveals practical ways of extending effective market opportunities to poor and middle-class people so that they can also acquire capital with the earnings of capital. In this way, as production becomes ever more capital intensive, poor and middle class people can earn not only by working but increasingly as owners of productive capital. In this talk, Prof. Ashford will introduce the binary economic approach and explain how it can enhance not only an individual’s capital earning capacity (addressing inequality), but also the demand for employment and the prospects for achieving sustainability.


Developing Glass Videos

8 03 2014

This past week, I enjoyed working with Carlos Waters (VT InnovationSpace), Shelli Fowler (Director, Networked Learning Initiatives – NLI), and Jacques Walker (NLI) on developing the outline for several videos that will document how I’m using Glass to advance learning in my courses. I will post these videos as soon as they are ready for distribution. 


#IfihadglassVT Competition

26 02 2014

IMG_20130805_115543_693The VT Glass Explorer Team recently received a number of invitations to invite new people to join the Google Glass Explorer program. We have at least nine invitations available and will offer them to the best response we read to the hashtag #IfihadglassVT 

This competition is open to all VT students, faculty, and staff. To be considered for one of the invitations, you need to post your #IfihadglassVT response to Twitter or Google+ by 12pm on Friday, March 7. If selected, you will be responsible for covering the cost of the Glass device ($1,500 + tax and shipping).

If you are a VT student, I encourage you to “pitch” your Glass-related research ideas to your advisor with the objective of securing research funds to cover the cost of the device  ;-)

We look forward to growing the VT Glass Team and seeing how you would Invent the Future!

RWSA Impact Evaluation Presentation

14 02 2014

IMG_1257On February 7, I was joined by colleagues from Virginia Tech and Stanford University to present the results from our impact evaluation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation-funded Rural Water Supply Activity (RWSA) in Mozambique at the MCC’s 2014 Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) and Economic Analysis (EA) College. The M&E/AE College was attended by monitoring and evaluation and economic analysis experts from many of the countries with which the MCC has an active Compact.

The presentation was recorded using Adobe Connect and can be accessed by clicking on the image below. The final impact evaluation report will be available in the coming weeks via the MCC’s Independent Evaluations Catalog.



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