Anya Samek
 Center for Economic and Social Research
University of Southern California


University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA

The University of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois

University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, Wisconsin

Affiliated Centers:

Behavioral and Experimental Economics Research Group

Anya Samek, Director

I am currently an economist at the University of Southern California. Prior to that, I have worked at the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My Ph.D. is in Economics, with a focus on Experimental Economics, from Purdue University. I like having a group of students helping on projects, because there are so many projects to work on! You can see my website for more about my work.

Graduate Students

Kathryn Carroll (Ph.D. student, University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Iím a PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin, and Lab Manager for the Behavioral Research Insights Through Experiments (BRITE) Lab, a research lab for business, consumer science, and other social sciences jointly run by the School of Human Ecology and the Wisconsin School of Business. My research interests focus on consumer decision making and healthy food choices: particularly behavioral interventions to improve food selection, determinants of household grocery purchasing decisions, and consumer preference for regional and state-sponsored agricultural marketing logos. I have a M.S. and B.S. in Ag Econ from the University of Delaware. Prior to joining UW-Madison, I worked in Cooperative Extension & Outreach for Delaware State University, and before that in the poultry processing sector. I spend my free time exploring rural Wisconsin and chaperoning high school dances/sporting events with my math teacher husband.

Christa Gibbs (PA & Lab Project Manager, University of Wisconsin-Madison)

I am a fifth year PhD student studying public economics. My main research interests are the economics of education and the role of information in decision-making. Prior to coming to Madison, I worked as a research assistant at the Federal Reserve Board. In addition to economic analysis, I also enjoy spending time with dogs and watching the Oakland A's.
Undergraduate Student Research Assistants

Rui Chen (University of Chicago)

I am a second year Economics major at the University of Chicago. Iíve had the great opportunity to research behavioral economics with the BEE research group since Winter 2015 and lead the lab as Head Research Assistant during Summer 2015. I have worked on a variety of projects ranging from experiments in charitable giving to time preferences and fairness in children. In my free time, I will most definitely be found exploring the wide variety of cuisines that Chicago has to offer.

Kevin Sokal (Univeristy of Chicago)

Kevin is a second year economics major at the University of Chicago. He originally hails from Winnetka, IL, where he attended New Trier High School. Through the BEE Research Group, he is working on developing a field experiment with coffee farmers in South America to test how a behavioral economics nudge may impact uptake and success of educational programs designed by non-profits. Moreover, he helps edit working papers to be submitted to journals. In the past, he has worked with time preference experiments, charitable giving experiments, and CHECC. Outside of BEE, Kevin holds leadership positions in various university extracurricular activities and is in a fraternity.

Mina Zhang (University of Chicago)

I am a second year student at the University of Chicago. I am majoring in Economics and Public Policy and I have been involved with BEE since summer of 2015. Through my work at BEE, behavioral economics has become one of my primary research interests. I am most interested in how insights from behavioral economics can help policy makers learn more about human behavior to create more effective policy. Outside of my academic pursuits, I enjoy exploring Chicago, listening to music, and trying out new restaurants.

Camille Choe (University of Chicago)

I am a second-year undergraduate pursuing a double major in Economics and Psychology. I began working as a research assistant in behavioral economics with the BEE research group this past summer, and will be continuing my work this year. I have worked with experiments in time preference, and will be studying disciplinary data for school children to identify patterns based on their prior education. In my spare time, I enjoy exploring Chicagoís diverse neighborhoods and getting involved on campus with activities such as volunteer work and Mock Trial.

Kevin Guo (University of Chicago)

I am a third-year undergraduate student studying economics at the University of Chicago. I have worked with the BEE Research Group since Winter 2015. In this time, I have worked on projects studying charitable giving, the effects of school interventions on student disciplinary outcomes, and the effects of cash incentives on how students make the tradeoff between quantity and quality.

Grant Dethlefsen (University of Southern California)

I am in my final semester as an undergraduate student at the University of Southern California. I study Health Promotion and Disease Prevention through Keck Medical School as well as Social Entrepreneurship in the Marshall School of Business. I am very excited to assist the BEE Research group and directly work with Dr. Samek here in Los Angeles and I hope to utilize the skills and knowledge I have gained from my past 4 years on the projects and studies she will be conducting.

BEE Alumni
Charis Li (Project Assistant and Field Experiments Manager, 2013-14)

I am open to all theories and methodologies that are useful to my research. Working with Anya, I am learning a lot of the economics side of behavioral science.  In turn, with my undergraduate background in marketing and psychology, I am helping the team combine more psychology theories into research. My research interests include people's charitable giving behavior and the mechanism of prosocial decision making. Besides research, my passion lies in photography and fashion, and puppies and kitties.

Charis is now a Ph.D. student at the University of Florida.

Julie Perng (Graduate Student at BEE, 2013-2014)

I am a second-year Agricultural and Applied Economics PhD student focusing on development economics. I am interested in financial capability, environmental behaviors, eco-tourism, and more. I enjoy hiking, biking, traveling, and relaxing in my down moments.
Kanyuan Kevin Huang (Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2013-14)

I am interested in behavioral economics and its application in public good, financial market and investing. I like to play basketball and table tennis.

Kevin is now a research specialist at Harvard.

Wanqun (Angelica) Zhao (Undergraduate Research Scholar, 2013-14)

Since I joint the group, I really developed an interest in experimental economics, as sometimes you would not even know what to expect before you see the results! It is so much fun. Iím planning to go for graduate study in behavioral and experimental economics after graduation. In spare time, I love playing pool and playing board games with my friends. P.s. My closed friends love to call me ďbig bowlĒ in Chinese, thatís why I took the picture.

Wanqun is now a Ph.D. student at the University of California - San Diego.

Carrie Ip (Undergraduate Research Scholar, 2013-14)

I am a freshman at UW-Madison hoping to major in marketing or possibly retail. Since working with the BEE research group, I have gained a lot of interest in behavioral economic research. I have assisted with lab experiments, data entry, and gone door-to-door to collect data. When I am not at school, I enjoy reading fashion blogs, watching The Mindy Project, and exploring new restaurants in Madison.

Daniel Li (Undergraduate Research Scholar, 2013-14)

I am a freshman at UW-Madison, with an interest in Economics, Finance, and Environmental Science. Weíll see where those interests lead me, but I am currently fascinated by the interaction between behavioral economics and public policy. My time in the BEE Research Lab has been a great learning experience. Assisting with entering data, helping to run studies, and even participating in studies, have all opened my eyes to the exciting field of behavioral economics. Outside of the BEE Lab, I enjoy photography, graphic design, and trying new foods. 

Daniel is now a student at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania

Tristan Abbot (Undergraduate Research Assistant and Resident Computer Scientist, 2013-14)

I am a sophomore at UW-Madison studying computer science.  Although I find computer science appealing for its own sake, I'm particularly interested in using it for research in other fields, and working with the BEE lab group has allowed me to do exactly that.  When I'm not writing code, I climb, compete in triathlons, and race with the UW cycling team.

Meijie Lynn Lin (Undergraduate Research Assistant, Spring 2014)

I am a freshman in UW-Madison and I am still exploring my major. My academic interests fall in the field of economics, art history and psychology. Attracted by the exciting field experiments in behavioral economics. I am glad I can be part of it through working in BEE lab and I now understand better how these experiments work. Besides, reading, cooking and traveling are my hobbies and I love to try new things!

Annelise Ross (Undergraduate Research Assistant, Spring 2014)

I transferred from Madison College in the fall of 2013 into UW-Madison, as a third year undergraduate. Although I am still exploring, my work with Anya and Charis in BEE Lab inspires to me pursue a degree in the field of economics. I am very interested in research involving charitable giving and incentives. I am also a house fellow in Sellery Hall, Jackson House. When I am not working or studying I love spending time outdoors or with my family.

Peitong Jing (Undergraduate Research Assistant, Spring 2014)

I feel very fortunate to learn about behavioral economics while working with the awesome people at BEE lab. I was a high-school exchange student in Connecticut for two years and now I am an undergraduate student at UW-Madison. Originally from Shandong, China, I love to experience different cultures and build friendship with people from diverse backgrounds. I am also very interested in environmental topics and I always seek opportunities to become more involved in local communities.

Amanda Chuan (Research Specialist, 2012-13)

Amanda is now a Ph.D. student at the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton).

Amanda Armstrong (Research Intern, Summer 2013)

I am going to be a 5th year senior at UW studying economics, history, and mathematics. At the BEE Lab, I split my time between study implementation/data analysis and designing and ordering lab t-shirts. Since starting with the group in May 2013, my skills in both of those areas have way surpassed my wildest dreams! When Iím not at work I can usually be found napping on Bascom or cooking food.
Rebecca Friedman (Research Intern, Summer 2013)

My name is Becca Friedman and I will be a senior economics major at Cornell University.  Over the summer I have been helping out with research in behavioral economics for the CChicago Heights Early Childhood Center.  This coming year I plan to write a thesis looking at how people's risk aversion is affected when others can observe their decision making. Outside of school I like to sing and am in an a cappella group at Cornell.
Andrew Kramer (Research Intern, Summer 2013)

I'm going to be a third year in Statistics and Economics at the University of Chicago. My work in the BEE Lab is focused on incentivizing healthy behavior in children. When I'm not regressing I'm taking awkward selfies or working on my rap EP, which I'm hoping will thrust me to the forefront of the rapping economist music scene.
Tommy Zionkowski (Research Intern, Summer 2013)

I am an Economics major at the University of Wisconsin. My main interests are behavioral economics and economics of monetary policy. I am currently working on projects involving the endowment effect and its application in insurance markets and modeling human decision making processes. I have been very fortunate to work with a number of great professors here at this university who I also think are genuinely great people. I am also a vocalist in a band and produce and DJ music in my spare time. I hope to continue on to graduate school after taking some time off to work and "find myself".
Chuni Fann (Research Intern, Summer 2013)

I'm Chuni, a second year economics major at the University of Chicago. Originally from Taiwan, I've had the great opportunity to live in some of the world's greatest cities, ranging from Vienna, Taipei to Bangkok. I am fully immersed in academic coursework at the university, studying anything from Latin American civilizations as part of the Core, to economics and mathematics for my major. In my spare time, I enjoy learning from student organizations in finance, and running outdoors. I've had the great pleasure of working for Professor Samek this summer, and I cannot thank her and the team more for this tremendous learning experience.