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Our Team

The Sinquefield Center for Applied Economic Research brings together researchers from a variety of disciplines. Meet our team below.

Michael Podgursky, Ph.D.

Director, Sinquefield Center for Applied Economic Research
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Michael Podgursky is director of the Sinquefield Center for Applied Economic Research. Prior to coming to SLU in 2019, he spent 23 years on the faculty at the University of Missouri, where he served as chair of the economics department from 1995-2005.

His primary research focus is the economics of education, training, and labor markets, on which he has published many scholarly academic articles and policy reports. He serves on the board of editors of several academic journals including Education Finance and Policy and Education Next, advisory boards for various statistical agencies, research institutes, and education organizations, and he was a fellow of the George W. Bush Institute from 2010-2013. He is a co-investigator at the National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University and the Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research at AIR, two national research centers funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education. In addition to IES and other government agencies, his research has been funded by numerous private foundations.

Takako Nomi, Ph.D.

Associate Director

Takako Nomi is associate director of the Sinquefield Center for Applied Economic Research and associate professor in education policy and equity. Prior to joining SLU, she was a senior researcher at the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. Nomi's current research interests include issues related to college readiness, transitions from high school to post-secondary education and the workforce, and policies and programs supporting persistence and degree attainment overall and in STEM. Previously, she evaluated a district-wide reform of raising high school graduation requirements, its unintended consequences, short-term and long-run impacts of a ninth-grade double-dose algebra program to support struggling students as well as the policy mechanisms to better understand effective policy implementation. Her research has been supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, Spenser Foundation, and the American Educational Research Association. Her publications have appeared in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, American Educational Research Journal, Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, and Journal of Human Resources. She currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, the faculty advisory board of the SLU Geospatial Institute, and the board of Gateway Global American Youth and Business Alliances, a non-profit apprenticeship training provider for high school and college students.

Jeffrey Cohen, Ph.D.

Research Fellow

Jeffrey Cohen recently joined the SCAER team in an effort to guide the center’s development of real estate data and general research in the St. Louis metro area. Cohen is a professor of real estate and finance at the University of Connecticut. His current research interests include transit-oriented development, whether the real estate wealth associated with highway construction has been distributed equitably across residents, the impact of airports and airport noise on commercial and residential property values, storms and climate change impacts on house prices, equitable approaches to property taxation, land value estimation, housing price spillovers across jurisdictions and the relationships between substance use treatment provider operating costs and urban economic issues. Among approximately 50 peer-reviewed journal publications, he has published his research in several top journals, including Review of Economics and Statistics, Journal of Urban Economics, Journal of Regional Science, Regional Science and Urban Economics, Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Real Estate Economics, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review and others. He has a longstanding relationship with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, where he is a research fellow with the Fed’s Institute for Economic Equity.

Cletus Coughlin, Ph.D.

Research Fellow

Cletus Coughlin is joining the SCAER team after serving most recently as senior vice president and chief of staff at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. He has been a policy associate for the Leverhulme Centre for Research on Globalisation and Economic Policy at the University of Nottingham, England and served on the editorial board of the Review of Regional Studies. He has held faculty positions at Drake University and the University of Georgia, adjunct faculty positions at Saint Louis University and Washington University, and visiting positions at City University, London, and Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Netherlands. Having published numerous articles in leading journals on topics in both regional and international economics, Coughlin will propel SCAER’s development of regional economic studies.

Darrin DeChane

Data Analyst

Darrin DeChane is a data analyst at the Sinquefield Center for Applied Economic Research. His research interests focus on issues of student access, equity, and success in higher education. Currently, his work explores pathways into and through college in Missouri. He is also pursuing a Ph.D. in higher education at SLU.

Michelle Wickman, Ph. D.

Project Manager of Research

Michelle Wickman is a pre-doctoral fellow at the Sinquefield Center for Applied Economic Research. She is primarily interested in microeconomic policy analysis, currently concentrating on urban development policies and R&D. Michelle is originally from Chesterfield, Missouri, and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Missouri.

Guangli Zhang, Ph.D.

Post-Doctoral Fellow
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Guangli Zhang is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Sinquefield Center for Applied Economic Research. His research interests are labor economics and household finance. His current work explores the role of benefit payment frequency in the context of unemployment insurance policy. He also has a strong interest in investigating the mechanisms behind some of the puzzling behaviors that exist in the household finance literature: for example, consumers' failure to minimize credit card interest charges and people's preference for integer numbers. Guangli completed his Ph.D. in Economics at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2021.