Xi He faculty

I got my Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of Connecticut. I also hold a bachelor’s and master’s degree in economics from Beihang University. I just finished my postdoc training at the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University.

I’m excited to join AAEC as an assistant professor in computation economics, with a focus on agricultural trade and food policy analysis. I’ll work closely with other colleagues and students within the Center for Agricultural Trade and AAEC.

I have benefited from mentors who guide me to understand and address issues that interest me. I love sharing my knowledge and providing students with analytical tools. It’s my pleasure to assist students in becoming self-motivated and active learners and to see them succeed and contribute to society.

Richard Dunn, one of my Ph.D. committee members at the University of Connecticut, taught me many things. The most important takeaway I always keep in mind is to focus on things that I am good at and that interest me.

I come from a small town in Hubei, a province in central China, and I love Sichuan and Hunan spicy food. I am very interested in how different foods exchange and spread across the world.

I am interested in the way individual employee differences affect the organization. The biggest topic I am concerned with is organizational succession to pass along knowledge and intentionally prepare and develop the next wave of leaders – this is generativity. I investigate generativity as it relates to both mentoring and employee turnover (leaving the company). For employee socialization and retention this means studying employees’ commitment to and satisfaction at work, identification with their company, extra-role work behaviors, servant leadership and compassion.

Fostering student development and engagement as they work toward obtaining their goals – namely their first position in their working career!

This is a tough one because there are so many good quotes. At the end of the day, the great ones point back to something that has been said in a book I read daily. A father guides his children in all things of life demonstrating his wisdom, mercy, grace, and love for them so that they would endure and be filled with strength, peace, hope, and joy to persevere until the end.

Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself – or allow others to do so! Dream jobs are mostly fictional, but if they exist they are rarely the first job out of school, change because you realize things are a little different in reality, or you change along the way. SO … explore, ask questions, and discover what you don’t know, what you want to know, and what you need to know to figure out who you can learn from. This will make future career decisions based on your knowledge, rather than intuition or assumption.

I LOVE breakfast food, but also fruit and pizza in that order. Of course, it is impossible to pass up bacon and spicy food. So that rounds out my top five, I guess – which would be followed closely by seafood, steak, dairy, pastries, and pie … I could go on and on! Did you say favorite foods, right??

Shamar Stewart

Currently, my research agenda is quite varied. I am always intrigued by economic problems (read I cannot shut my brain off) and am willing to use diverse econometric methods to solve them.

In a series of papers with one of my Ph.D. advisees, we are exploring projects related to the commodity markets. In one of the related papers, we explore the role of animal diseases in commodity price volatility. We aim to assess how these diseases affect prices at the retail level and the consumers’ responsiveness to said price changes. In another paper, we seek to explain the observed premium between grass-fed and grain-fed beef.

With another advisee, we are focused on regional and labor market issues. We seek to explain the low labor force participation rate that continues to plague the Appalachian region.  The policy suggestions from this study are aimed at helping policymakers to better bolster the labor market (both nationally and regionally) at different stages of the business cycle.

Admittedly, I am most passionate about Macro-Finance issues. For that, I have several current projects focused on the role of oil market shocks and economic variables on foreign currencies.

To challenge my students and see them grow.

It is the most fulfilling feeling to see a student who comes into my class without the requisite coding skills and then the quality of their assignments and questions improve over time as they build proficiency. 

Currently, it would be The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

While there are many notable quotes in that book, I find that this one resonates with me most: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

Though dedicated more towards war, I see this quote as a personal challenge to understand myself and those I work with better. We have diverse points of view and opinions and only by understanding both sides will we be able to harmoniously coexist.

Be willing to challenge yourself and never settle for the path of least resistance. Always anticipate ways you can improve and be valuable to your future employer (even if that is you).

I am not a big foodie.

I however appreciate a good meal and trying new dishes. Bugs are not currently on that list though.

Catherine Larochelle

Catherine Larochelle
Catherine with son Sebastien

Catherine with sons Sebastien  (L) and Raphael.

Catherine with son Raphael

I currently work on bee-friendly beef! The project aims at addressing pollinator decline by integrating native warm-season grasses and wildflowers into the traditional pasture to create a biodiverse forage system suitable for cattle and pollinators. 

We will evaluate the potential of this biodiverse-enhanced grazing system from various angles.  

On the consumer side, we will assess whether consumers would be willing to pay a premium for beef raised on wildflower-enhanced pasture. On the producer side, we will estimate the economic feasibility of converting traditional pastures into wildflower-enhanced grazing systems. We will also survey cattle producers to identify the profile of high potential adopters, perceptions of, and willingness to establish native warm-season grasses and wildflowers pastures. 

I am also involved in two projects led by the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT in Malawi and Zambia. The first project aims at strengthening the value chain coordination from bean breeders to farmers to address bean seed production and supply system challenges. The second project aims at developing and commercializing processed legume-based products that will be nutritious and well-accepted by consumers.  

Working with graduate students!

The Little Prince. It is a charming philosophical story that I first read as a school assignment, like most students in Quebec, where I grew up. Each time I would read the book again, the story would take on a new meaning. The most famous quote for this book is: “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Go for what you love and be open to new opportunities and ideas, and you will be successful. 

I would say chocolate, but since I tell my children that chocolate or candies don’t count as ‘food’, it would be pizza. Other favorites include lamb, crepes, cherries, and raspberries.