The Charger Blog

Recent Alumnus’s Thesis Published in Prestigious Academic Journal

Ethan McGee ’19 says his time at the University of New Haven prepared him for his position as a user experience designer at Dillard’s, which he loves, and laid the foundation for the publication of his economics capstone research project.

February 24, 2021

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Kamal Upadhyaya, Ethan McGee, and Ethan’s father, Glenn McGee.
Kamal Upadhyaya, Ph.D. (left); Ethan McGee ’19 (center); and Ethan’s father, Glenn McGee, Ph.D., the University’s deputy provost.

As a student at the University of New Haven, Ethan McGee ’19 immersed himself in research as part of his capstone project. His project took him through the history of China’s currency and, ultimately, landed him in a prestigious scholarly journal.

As part of his research, McGee explored currency devaluation, reviewing articles about the Chinese economy. He learned about China’s currency, the Yuan – also called Renminbi – gathering as much background information as he could. Working with his adviser, Kamal Upadhyaya, Ph.D., they chose a model and began exploring data.

Ethan McGee ’19.
Ethan McGee ’19.

McGee’s capstone project became the basis of a journal article, titled “Another Look at Devaluation and the Trade Balance in China,” which was recently published in Review of Economic Analysis, a well-respected scholarly journal. He is grateful for Dr. Upadhyaya’s support of his project and for helping him get published.

"It’s validation for a lot of hard work, but even more so, it's a reminder of all of the outstanding people who have worked with me,” said McGee, who earned a degree in economics. “It was a privilege getting to work with Professor Upadhyaya. He is an incredible mentor – knowledgeable, patient, and fun to talk to. He always helped motivate me when I got stuck. Even now, I miss those weekly thesis meetings."

McGee’s work estimated the effect of the Yuan’s devaluation on the trade balance of China using a model that includes factors such as domestic and foreign income. In addition to the technical skills he gained from working on his thesis, McGee says he learned the importance of being thorough when evaluating information.

“It was real, current data, and the results had new and unique implications,” he said. “It was truly exciting to see those results come in. Being surrounded by so many professors and advisers who want you to be successful, even after graduation, really is something special."

Ethan McGee presenting his project.
Ethan McGee ’19 presents his capstone project at the University’s Orange Campus.
‘I really love what I do’

Now a user experience designer at Dillard’s, McGee works in the company’s corporate office evaluating user patterns of behavior and designing digital interfaces based on the data he examines. He specializes in mobile interfaces, such as menus and home screens.

"I get to make applications and websites more accessible, more intuitive, and, simply, more fun for people to use,” he said. “Through this, I believe I can help make the digital space better for everyone, and that gives my work meaning. I'm beyond thankful to be in this field, and I really love what I do."

McGee, the son of Glenn McGee, Ph.D., deputy provost for the University, and Summer McGee, Ph.D., CPH, dean of the University’s School of Health Sciences, is grateful for his time as a Charger and for the opportunities he had. He loved the campus, and he has particularly fond memories of connecting with the University community.

"The people at the University of New Haven – staff and students alike – are some of the most diverse, intelligent, and inspiring people I have ever met,” he said. “When you're surrounded by so many great people, it's hard not to find a bit of success yourself."