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EXCEL Scholar Justas Staisiunas ’04 of Panevezys, Lithuania, is collaborating with Susan Averett, associate professor and associate head of economics and business, to determine how accurately earnings reflect the nature of employees’ jobs.

Says Averett, “We’re trying to determine if people who take on different jobs with different characteristics and risks are compensated in relation to these risks.”

To quantify their findings, Averett and Staisiunas are examining New Jersey manufacturing labor records from the 1880s.

“We will try to determine whether in those early years employers were paying compensating differentials to workers with more dangerous or ‘less pleasant’ professions, and how those compensating differentials were determined,” says Staisiunas, who is majoring in mathematics and economics.

Though still in the early stages, Staisiunas is busy compiling data that eventually will be used to run econometric models.

“Professor Averett gives me data sheets, and I put the data in the computer. Later on we will analyze the data with statistical programs,” he says. “Professor Averett helps me with the subject of labor economics and the ideas behind it. She also suggests the readings.”

Staisiunas opted for the EXCEL program both to grow academically and to broaden his view of economics, a field he may pursue after graduation.

“When I decided I wanted to do EXCEL, I was not looking for research in labor economics in particular, but the more I read about this field, the more interested I became,” he says. “It is challenging. For me it is like taking an extra class where you learn through research more on your own. I’m learning new concepts and research techniques.”

In addition to enhancing his research skills through Lafayette’s distinctive academic programs, Staisiunas is impressed with the college’s facilities.

“The library is a great place to work,” he says. “You can find your own spot, and you can always get quick help from the librarians.”

He adds, “The professors are very approachable. It’s easy to arrange a time to meet with them.”

Staisiunas plays intramural basketball and is employed in the networking center at Computer Services and at Kirby Sports Center. Last semester, he participated in the McKelvy Scholars program that brings together Lafayette students with a wide range of majors and interests to reside in an historic off-campus house and share in intellectual and social activities.

Categorized in: Academic News