Island Adventure

Island Adventure: Professor-student team researches China’s role in trade

“The role of China is huge now across the globe,” says Jerry McElroy, professor in the Department of Business Administration and Economics. With the recent devastating earthquake in that country and the upcoming Beijing Olympics, international news has turned its full attention to the nation.

But for rising junior Wenwen Bai, China’s story is more personal. Bai hails from Chengdu, China, and this summer she and McElroy are busy researching China's position in the island world. They are the 2008 Student Independent Study and Research (SISTAR) Grant winners. The prestigious grant funds summer research and creative pursuits for a faculty-student team.

Bai, whose eventual goal is to earn her PhD from Harvard, is already impressed with the scholarly research she and McElroy have conducted in just a few short weeks. The team is studying China’s trade investment and aid in the Pacific and Caribbean islands. They hope to publish their analysis in an article in the Island Studies Journal. “I’ve never been published before,” says Bai, an economics major and art history minor. “I wanted to learn how to do research because my goal is to get a PhD. First I need to learn how to write academic papers.”

McElroy says that Bai’s interest in China has given students in his economics classes a new perspective on the global economy. “We’ve used a lot of examples from China, and she can reflect on them too,” he says.

The two are currently gathering articles on their topic and will write up their research in July. Thanks to the SISTAR Grant, Bai is able to act as a junior colleague in the process, learning as she goes. "I have already learned a lot."