Anna Spurlock, PhD recipient in Agricultural and Resource Economics, claimed “relief” is the best word to express her feelings after submitting her dissertation.
“I was just so exhausted, it was hard to grasp what it meant,” she said. “People kept telling me that I had accomplished something big, but it’s hard to think of it as an accomplishment when it’s just been my way of life for the past six years.”
And what has been her “way of life for the past six years” is leading Anna to her next accomplishment. She will work full time at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as a researcher, what she refers to as a “win-win situation.”
“I wanted to do research on policy-relevant issues and I wanted to stay in Berkeley,” she said.
Anna grew up in Point Arena, a small coastal town in Northern California and received her undergraduate degree in Anthropology from UC Santa Cruz. In 2002, she moved to Oakland and found employment in a restaurant as a bookkeeper, an opportunity that indirectly inspired her to pursue a PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics.
“While I worked there, I listened to NPR every day in my office. One day I heard a discussion and one of the panelists was referred to as an agricultural economist. I had never heard of that before, so I looked up that field of study and learned how it related to other topics I was interested in.”
After extensive research, Anna discovered that UC Berkeley offered the Agricultural and Resource Economics graduate program (ARE), which allows students to focus on agricultural economics, environmental economics or development economics. “I decided that it would be a great fit for me,” she said.
However, what Anna did not expect was the amount of work needed in order to prepare for graduate studies in economics. As an undergraduate, she’d majored in anthropology and had not taken any courses in mathematics or economics.
“I started taking classes at Berkeley City College and some of the other Peralta Colleges, starting all the way back at Economics 1 and Pre-calculus,” she said.
It took nearly a year for Anna to meet the necessary requirements. In 2006, she decided to apply to the ARE PhD program at UC Berkeley, only to find that her dream career required yet more work.
“I didn’t get in the first time,” she said. “But at that point I felt committed.”
Anna persevered and took another year of classes at community colleges. She repeated the GRE exam, and applied once again to UC Berkeley. This time, she was accepted.
“I often think that if I had known what I was really getting myself into when I first heard that NPR radio program and decided to start heading in that direction, I probably wouldn’t have tried,” she said. “But I did try, and worked really, really hard for two years before getting in, plus six years in the program. I can’t believe I actually finished.”
Now that she has completed her dissertation and her PhD program, Anna will spend her time at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researching energy efficiency-related topics. She also plans to enjoy her free time engaging in activities she enjoys the most (besides agricultural economics, of course.)
“I like to read escapist science fiction and fantasy literature, go out and eat at all the fabulous restaurants in Oakland, and do ceramics,” she said. “I like to do things that feed my soul, instead of my head.”
In this recent interview with eGrad, Anna talked about her dissertation, her work at the Laurence Lab and remarkable times she had as a PhD student at UC Berkeley.
What is your dissertation about?
My dissertation is called “Essays in Energy Economics” and consists of two big projects. The first explores consumer behavior on alternative electricity pricing. In particular, I show that consumers exhibit behaviors consistent with the psychology and economics concept known as loss aversion when on critical peak pricing for electricity. The second project explores firm pricing behavior for household appliances when faced with a tightening of the minimum energy efficiency standard. In particular, I show that prices of clothes washers following a tightening of the minimum efficiency standard changed in a way that is consistent with clothes washer suppliers engaging in second-degree price discrimination.
What made you decide to focus your dissertation on this particular topic?
I came up with the topic for the first project because of taking the psychology and economics field classes in the economics department. I was interested in finding a way of applying psychology and economics concepts to the area of energy economics and the project I did seemed like a natural way to bring those two fields together. It took me a year and a half to get access to the data I needed to do that project, but I was able to in the end. The second project came out of a research assistant position I have had for the past year at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the Energy Efficiency Standards Group. They had data available to explore the affect of new standards on appliance prices, and the concept of looking at it from the perspective of market power and price discrimination was a natural approach to exploring the empirical patterns in price adjustments that were seen in those data.
What was your biggest challenge while working on your dissertation?
My biggest challenge was getting access to data for the first project. I worked so long and hard to find data, and was lucky in the end that I was able to find data to explore the idea I had developed, but it was a long stressful time before I had it.
How did you feel after submitting your dissertation?
I felt relief, but also I was just so exhausted, that it was hard to grasp what it meant. People kept telling me that I had accomplished something big, but it’s hard to think of it as an accomplishment when it’s just been my way of life for the past six years. It’s starting to sink in now that it’s been a week and a half, but it’s still a process to transition out of the state of anxiety that has been my life for so many years.
Talk about your work as a researcher for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
My job at LBNL is split between two overarching areas of research. I’m working in the Energy Efficiency Standards Group doing economic research on energy efficiency related topics and I’m also working in the Electricity Markets and Policy Group doing research on dynamic electricity pricing. This position is exactly what I was hoping for when I started the PhD program. I wanted to do research on policy-relevant issues and I wanted to stay in Berkeley, a win-win.
What will you never forget about your time at UC Berkeley?
This is a hard question to answer. School has been what I’ve been living and breathing for years, and so it’s hard to believe I could forget things. The thing I value the most are the people I met. All my cohort, and my advisers, are just so wonderful. We went through so much together.
What made you choose UC Berkeley?
I had been living in Oakland for five years. I loved the Bay Area. Berkeley was the best Agricultural and Resource Economics department in the country and was in the place that I loved. It wasn’t even a question for me.
Categories:Headlines, June 2013, Student & Alumni Profiles
Tags:Agricultural and Resource Economics, LBNL
About Débora Silva
Débora Silva, a Brazilian journalist started her career at a television station in São Paulo, Brazil after graduating with a degree in Journalism. For four years, she worked as a reporter and producer for Extensao.Doc, a documentary news program about social and political issues. There she interviewed a wide range of people, including then president, Lula da Silva. In 2009, Débora moved to California to pursue a career as an international correspondent. She graduated with a Master’s Degree from the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley with emphasis in television in May 2014.
More Posts by Débora Silva
Last updated: August 1, 2017 - 9:07am
|First Name||Last Name||Program||Dissertation Title||Date and Time||Location||Chair|
|Kathryn||O'Connor||Kinesiology||Concussion among military service academy members: Identifying risk factors, recovery trajectories, and the role of mental health||00Monday, March 12, 2018, 9:00 am||Earl Lewis Room Rackham Building||Steven P Broglio|
|Katherine||Crocker||Ecology & Evolutionary Biology||The Past is Never Dead, it Isn?t Even Past: Maternal Environment Affects Multiple Generations of Offspring via Hormone Provisioning||01Monday, March 12, 2018, 10:00 am||TBD||Mark D Hunter|
|Selin||Merdan||Industrial & Operations Eng||OPTIMIZATION AND MACHINE LEARNING METHODS FOR DIAGNOSTIC TESTING OF PROSTATE CANCER||02Monday, March 12, 2018, 12:30 pm||ROOM 2717, IOE||Brian Denton|
|Melissa||Lee||Chemistry||Remote C-H Functionalization of Aliphatic Amines||03Monday, March 12, 2018, 1:00 pm||Chemistry 1706||Melanie S Sanford|
|Margaret||Echelbarger||Psychology||The Influence of Variety and Scarcity on Children's Decision Making||04Monday, March 12, 2018, 1:00 pm||EARL LEWIS ROOM, RACKHAM||Susan A Gelman|
|Rungroj||Jintamethasawat||Biomedical Engineering||Speed of Sound and Attenuation Imaging of Compressed Breast using Limited Angle Ultrasound Tomography||05Monday, March 12, 2018, 1:30 pm||TAUB LIB 2903, Taubman Library||Oliver Daniel Kripfgans and Xueding Wang|
|Thomas||Zaikos||Microbiology & Immunology||Characterization and Elimination of the HIV Reservoir||06Monday, March 12, 2018, 3:00 pm||2901 Med. Sci 2||Kathleen L Collins|
|Viswambhara||Makam||Mathematics||Invariant Theory, Tensors and Computational Complexity||07Monday, March 12, 2018, 5:00 pm||EH B844||Harm Derksen and Andrew Snowden|
|Audra||McMillan||Mathematics||Differential Privacy, Property Testing and Perturbations.||08Tuesday, March 13, 2018, 10:00 am||Mason Hall 1449||Anna Catherine Gilbert|
|Sonia||Robinson||Epidemiological Science||Nutrition in middle childhood and externalizing and internalizing problems in adolescence||09Tuesday, March 13, 2018, 1:30 pm||SPH2 1112||Eduardo Villamor|
|Parker||Hill||Computer Science & Eng||Bridging the Scalability Gap by Exploiting Error Tolerance for Emerging Applications||10Tuesday, March 13, 2018, 2:00 pm||BBB 3725||Jason Mars and Lingjia Tang|
|Thomas||Gamboa||Music Conducting||Three Programs of Wind Music||11Tuesday, March 13, 2018, 4:45 pm||Room 3252, Earl V. Moore Building||Michael L Haithcock|
|Catherine||Finegan-Dollak||Computer Science & Eng||Selecting and Generating Computational Meaning Representations for Short Texts||12Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 9:00 am||4941 BBB||Walter Lasecki and Dragomir Radkov Radev|
|Ying||Sheng||Nursing||On the relationship between levator ani tears and urethral closure pressure in women following vaginal birth||13Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 10:00 am||Earl Lewis Room - third floor in Rackham||Janis Miriam Miller|
|Ramya||Kumar||Chemical Engineering||Directing Interfacial Events Using Biomimetic Polymer Brushes||14Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 12:00 pm||NCRC B10 G064||Joerg Lahann|
|Christopher||Donnelly||Oral Health Sciences||Neurotrophic Factor Signaling Mechanisms Underlying the Development of Peripheral Neural Circuits||15Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 12:00 pm||DENTISTRY G550||Brian Anthony Pierchala|
|Kyle||Ferguson||Chemistry||Probing the Non-Oxidative Decarboxylation Mechanism of Ferulic Acid Decarboxylase from Saccharomyces cerevisiae||16Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 1:00 pm||1706 Chemistry Building||E Neil G Marsh|
|Zhiyuan||Yao||Molecular, Cell & Dev Biology||Molecular Mechanism and Regulation of Autophagy||17Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 2:00 pm||BOARDROOM LSI BUILDING||Daniel J Klionsky|
|Chang-Hong||Hsu||Computer Science & Eng||Towards Power- and Energy-efficient Datacenters||18Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 2:00 pm||3725 BEYSTER||Jason Mars and Lingjia Tang|
|Elizabeth||Ela||Sociology||I Should Be Pregnant So Many Times By Now||19Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 2:00 pm||4155 LSA||Jennifer S Barber|
|Joshua||Damron||Chemistry||Insights into Crystalline and Materials Solids from Advances in Magic Angle Spinning NMR||20Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 2:30 pm||EARL LEWIS ROOM IN RACKHAM||Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy|
|Sarah||Bell||Psychology & Women's Studies||What Happens in a Hook Up?: Young Women's Behaviors, Emotions, and Pleasures.||21Thursday, March 15, 2018, 9:00 am||PILLSBURY CONF RM EAST HALL||Sara Isobel McClelland|
|Michael||Deininger||Design Science||Informing Intentional use of Prototyping in Engineering Design: Context-Specific Novice Approaches and Stakeholder Feedback||22Thursday, March 15, 2018, 9:30 am||2540 GGB||Shanna Daly and Kathleen Helen Sienko|
|Katherine||Reichl||Aerospace Engineering||Active Metastructures for Vibration Suppression||23Thursday, March 15, 2018, 10:00 am||FXB 1044||Daniel J Inman|
|Yu-Pu||Chen||Biostatistics||Semiparametric Latent Variable Models for Chronic Diseases with Responses of Multiple Types and Scales||24Thursday, March 15, 2018, 10:00 am||M4318 SPH II||Alexander Tsodikov|
|Claudio||Vilas Boas Favero||Chemical Engineering||Destabilization, Flocculation, and Deposition of Asphaltenes||25Thursday, March 15, 2018, 11:00 am||GENERAL MOTORS CONFERENCE HALL - LEC||Hugh Scott Fogler|
|Tian||Bao||Mechanical Engineering||Vibrotactile Sensory Augmentation and Machine Learning Based Approaches for Balance Rehabilitation||26Thursday, March 15, 2018, 2:00 pm||GM CONF ROOM IN LURIE ENGINEERING CENTER||Kathleen Helen Sienko|
|Olivia||McGovern||Microbiology & Immunology||Endocytic Trafficking in Toxoplasma Gondii||27Friday, March 16, 2018, 9:00 am||Medical Science Building 2 WLH-3697||Vernon Bruce Carruthers|
|James||Bour||Chemistry||Accessibility, Reactivity, and Fluoroalkylation Reactions of High-Oxidation-State Organonickel Complexes||28Friday, March 16, 2018, 10:00 am||ROOM 1300 CHEMISTRY||Melanie S Sanford|
|Ross||Maguire||Earth & Environmental Sciences||An integrated geophysical approach to investigating thermal and chemical heterogeneity in Earth's mantle||29Friday, March 16, 2018, 10:00 am||2520 CC Little Building||Jeroen Ritsema|
|Yu-Chih||Tung||Computer Science & Eng||Acoustic Sensing: Mobile Applications and Frameworks||30Friday, March 16, 2018, 1:00 pm||2224 EECS||Kang Geun Shin|
|Rebecca||Craig||Chemistry||Applications of Raman Microspectroscopy to the Study of Atmospheric Aerosol Particles||31Friday, March 16, 2018, 1:00 pm||Not available yet||Andrew P Ault|
|Miranda||Fitzgerald||Educational Studies||Texts and Tasks in Elementary Project-based Science||32Friday, March 16, 2018, 1:00 pm||Room 2327 School of Education Building||Annemarie Sullivan Palincsar|
|Ryan||Caverly||Aerospace Engineering||Optimal Output Modification and Robust Control using Minimum Gain and the Large Gain Theorem||33Friday, March 16, 2018, 1:00 pm||1000 WILSON STUDENT TEAM PROJECT CENTER||James Richard Forbes|
|Ryan||Wade||Health Behavior & Health Educ||Racialized Sexual Discrimination and Psychological Wellbeing among Young Black Gay/Bisexual Men (YBGBM)||34Friday, March 16, 2018, 2:00 pm||SCHOOL PUBLIC HEALTH I - 2610 CROSSROADS||Gary W Harper|
|Yumeng||Li||Biostatistics||Dynamic prediction of the onset of acute graft-versus-host-disease with longitudinal biomarkers||35Monday, March 19, 2018, 11:00 am||School of Public Health||Thomas M Braun|
|Brady||G'Sell||Anthropology & History||Making Motherhood Work: Women?s Child Support Claims, Race, and the Remaking of Citizenship in South Africa 1950-2014||36Monday, March 19, 2018, 1:00 pm||ANTHRO HISTORY LOUNGE HAVEN HALL||Adam Philip Ashforth|
|Lianli||Liu||Electrical Engin-Systems||Optimizing Magnetic Resonance Imaging for Image-Guided Radiotherapy||37Monday, March 19, 2018, 1:30 pm||3725 BBB||James M Balter and Jeffrey A Fessler|
|Alexandra||Fraser||History of Art||Picturing the Interior: Materials, Decoration, Politics (1880-1900)||38Monday, March 19, 2018, 1:30 pm||CONFERENCE ROOM, TAPPAN HALL||Alexander D Potts|
|Jaymin||Kim||History||The Rule of Ritual in the Qing Tributary World, 1630s-1840s: Asymmetry and Elastic Sovereignty||39Monday, March 19, 2018, 6:00 pm||RACKHAM 4TH FLOOR EAST CONF. ROOM||Par Kristoffer Cassel|
|Jordan||Bemmels||Ecology & Evolutionary Biology||Species Range Shifts in Dynamic Geological and Climatic Landscapes: Studies in Temperate and Tropical Trees||40Tuesday, March 20, 2018, 10:00 am||Rackham East Conference Room, 4th Floor||Christopher William Dick|
|John||McCrone IV||Microbiology & Immunology||Influenza evolution within and between human hosts is driven by stochastic processes and tight bottlenecks||41Tuesday, March 20, 2018, 10:00 am||MEDICAL SCIENCE 1 - M5330||Adam Lauring|
|Kevin||Fries||Civil Engineering||Fusing Large Datasets and Models to Improve Understanding of Hydrologic and Hydraulic Processes||42Tuesday, March 20, 2018, 12:15 pm||2029 GG BROWN||Branko Kerkez|
|Alaina||Neal||Educational Studies||"They Don't Want to See Us Succeed": How Schools Produce Identities for Black Female Students||43Tuesday, March 20, 2018, 1:30 pm||SOE BUILDING TRIBUTE ROOM||Carla O'Connor|
|Kyong Tak||Cho||Computer Science & Eng||From Attack to Defense: Toward Secure In-vehicle Networks||44Tuesday, March 20, 2018, 2:00 pm||3725 BEYSTER BUILDING||Kang Geun Shin|
|Erik||Brinkman||Computer Science & Eng||Understanding Financial Market Behavior through Empirical Game-Theoretic Analysis||45Tuesday, March 20, 2018, 2:30 pm||GENERAL MOTORS CONFERENCE HALL LEC||Michael P Wellman|
|Hyeongseok||Kim||Electrical Engineering||Millimeter-scale RF Integrated Circuits and Antennas for Energy-efficient Wireless Sensor Nodes||46Tuesday, March 20, 2018, 3:00 pm||1303 EECS||David D Wentzloff|
|Grant||Mandarino||History of Art||Seeing Class: Graphic Satire and the Cultivation of Radicalism in the Weimar Republic||47Tuesday, March 20, 2018, 4:15 pm||TAPPAN, 270||Matthew Nicholas Biro|
|Yang||Li||Nursing||Applying Allostatic Load to Perinatal Outcomes Research||48Wednesday, March 21, 2018, 10:00 am||ROOM 1184 NORTH INGALLS BUILDING||Julia Schwartz Seng|
|Christian Samuel||Alvarez Privado||Epidemiological Science||Current and Future Perspectives of Prostate Cancer in Thailand||49Wednesday, March 21, 2018, 10:00 am||SPH2 1122, SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH||Alison Mondul|
|Aric||Schultz||Microbiology & Immunology||An Analysis of LCAT in Regards to Egress in Toxoplasma gondii||50Wednesday, March 21, 2018, 12:00 pm||3697 MEDICAL SCIENCE II||Vernon Bruce Carruthers|
|Katherine||Finn||Nursing||Pediatric Survivors of Severe Malaria: Academic Performance Following a Cognitive Intervention in Uganda||51Wednesday, March 21, 2018, 3:00 pm||EARL LEWIS ROOM, RACKHAM||Bruno J Giordani|
|Rebecca||Gadd||Educational Studies||Developing Novices' Professional Scripts for Teaching: An Investigation of Teacher Education Practice||52Wednesday, March 21, 2018, 3:00 pm||SEB 2327||Deborah Loewenberg Ball|
|Michael||Hall||Psychology||Living Congenially: Contextual, Relational, and Metacognitive Facilitators of Agreeable Political Information Environments||53Wednesday, March 21, 2018, 4:00 pm||4464 EAST HALL||Allison Nancy Earl and Phoebe C Ellsworth|
|Yevgeniy||Yesilevskiy||Mechanical Engineering||Understanding and Improving Locomotion: The Simultaneous Optimization of Motion and Morphology in Legged Robots||54Wednesday, March 21, 2018, 4:00 pm||2540 G.G. BROWN||C David Remy|
|Dong Ik||Kang||Economics||Three Essays in Macroeconomics||55Thursday, March 22, 2018, 9:00 am||LORCH 267||Christopher L House|
|Tina||Le||History of Art||Material Conceptualisms: Philippine Art under Authoritarianism, 1968 ? 1986||56Thursday, March 22, 2018, 9:00 am||TAPPAN HALL BASEMENT CONFERENCE ROOM||Joan Kee|
|Ibrahim||Boulares||Physics||Raman studies of surface phonons in the topological insulators Bi2Se3 and Bi2Te3||57Thursday, March 22, 2018, 10:00 am||2246 Randall||Roberto D Merlin|
|Lauren||Beesley||Biostatistics||Missing Data and Variable Selection Methods for Cure Models in Cancer Research||58Thursday, March 22, 2018, 10:30 am||SPHI 1655||Jeremy Michael George Taylor|
|Bradley||Keller||Macromolecular Science & Eng||From Small Molecules to Polymers: Linear and Nonlinear Optical Properties of Organic Conjugated Systems for Solar Applications||59Thursday, March 22, 2018, 11:00 am||1706 CHEMISTRY||Theodore G Goodson III|
|Byungjoo||Choi||Civil Engineering||The Role of Socio-Cognitive Process in Construction Workers? Safety Behaviors||60Thursday, March 22, 2018, 12:00 pm||2029, G.G. BROWN BUILDING||Sanghyun Lee|
|Karen||Flannagan||Epidemiological Science||Polyunsaturated fatty acids and early-life chronic disease risk in Latin America||61Thursday, March 22, 2018, 12:00 pm||M1112 SPH II||Eduardo Villamor|
|Hye Jin||Hwang||Educational Studies||Do Knowledge and Motivation Matter? The Role of General Knowledge and Reading Motivation in Reading Achievement in the Elementary Years||62Thursday, March 22, 2018, 2:00 pm||BROWNLEE ROOM IN SCHOOL OF EDUCATION||Kai Schnabel Cortina and Nell Kristine Duke|
|Wen||Guo||Physics||Search for New Resonances and Dark Matter Particles with BSM Higgs Boson Productions at the LHC||63Thursday, March 22, 2018, 3:00 pm||WESTHALL 348||Bing Zhou|
|Xu||Zhang||Business Administration||The Value of Bargaining in Online Platform Markets||64Thursday, March 22, 2018, 3:00 pm||ROSS SCHOOL OF BUSINESS, R4020||Francine Lafontaine and Puneet Manchanda|
|Christopher||Miles||Physics||Optimal control of the advection-diffusion equation for effective mixing.||65Thursday, March 22, 2018, 4:00 pm||Weiser 755||Charles R Doering|
|Bharadwaj||Mantha||Civil Engineering||Navigation, Planning And Coordination Algorithms For Mobile Service Robots In Indoor Built Environments||66Friday, March 23, 2018, 9:00 am||163 EWRE||Carol C Menassa|
|Gopal||Nataraj||Electrical Engin-Systems||Advances in Quantitative MRI: Acquisition, Estimation, and Application||67Friday, March 23, 2018, 10:00 am||GM ROOM, LURIE ENGINEERING CENTER||Jeffrey A Fessler and Jon-Fredrik Nielsen|
|Elizabeth||Johnson||Anthropology||Social and ecological challenges in female geladas||68Friday, March 23, 2018, 12:00 pm||4448 East Hall||Jacinta Catherine Beehner|
|Sophina||Taitano||Immunology||Role of Th2 Cytokines in Regulatory B Cells Growth and Function||69Friday, March 23, 2018, 1:00 pm||3330 MED SCI I||Nicholas W Lukacs and Steven K Lundy|
|Meredith||Henstridge||Applied Physics||Manipulating Light with Metamaterials: Synchrotron Radiation from an Accelerating Light Pulse and On-Chip Devices||70Friday, March 23, 2018, 1:15 pm||EARL LEWIS ROOM, RACKHAM BUILDING||Roberto D Merlin|
|Jasmine||Manalel||Psychology||Social Networks Across the Lifespan: Continuity, Context, and Consequences||71Friday, March 23, 2018, 1:30 pm||6080 ISR||Toni C Antonucci|
|Teal||Guidici||Statistics||Methods for utilizing co-expression networks for biological insight.||72Friday, March 23, 2018, 2:30 pm||SEB 2327||Charles Burant and George Michailidis|
|Scott||Rich||Applied & Interdis Mathematics||Interacting mechanisms driving synchrony in neural networks with inhibitory interneurons||73Friday, March 23, 2018, 3:00 pm||East Hall 1096||Victoria Booth and Michal R Zochowski|