From New Delhi to Houghton, Latika Lagalo has come a long way, pursuing her passion for economics, her love of research, and her commitment to the education of the next generation of business professionals.
Originally from India, Lagalo earned a Master of Arts degree in Economics from Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi and moved to the United States in 2006. She earned a PhD in Economics from Wayne State University and in 2014 joined the School of Business and Economics as an assistant professor specializing in energy economics and the macroeconomy.
Lagalo currently teaches three courses: principals of economics, econometrics, and energy economics. Principals of economics is an introductory course that may influence students to consider a major or minor in economics.
“It’s a very important course, and it’s my responsibility to introduce students to this field—regardless of their major—and teach them as much as I can,” Lagalo believes. “It’s an opportunity to generate interest in Economics and perhaps entice them to consider a degree in this field.”
For the Love of Econometrics
Her econometrics course incorporates math, statistics, and economics. “Students have the chance to work hands-on and analyze real-life data,” Lagalo explains. “They are inspired to take what they learned one step further, either through a directed study, research, or journal research. It’s both challenging and exciting for students to do undergraduate research and see results.”
The third course, energy economics, is highly interdisciplinary in nature, studying the role of energy in society from an economic perspective. It’s also the course closest to Lagalo’s heart since it relates directly to her research on demand-and supply-side effects of oil markets and how they’re affecting oil prices, and what the growing interest in renewable energy is doing to the American economy.
“I look at the effect oil prices have on the economy and in various industry sectors; for example, industrial production in chemical and petroleum sectors,” she says. “I’ve also looked at the effect on other countries as well. If oil prices increase or decrease in China or India, how does that impact us?”
Lagalo’s research has produced some surprising conclusions. Not long ago, economists assumed political events in the Middle East were a main cause of oil-price fluctuations. However, data shows demand as having just as much effect on oil prices.
Lagalo says economics and engineering interconnect well. Students benefit from Tech’s unique cross-disciplinary collaboration to acquire the skills they need for future careers. She says many people think economics is dry and has no bearing on their lives, when in fact it’s just the opposite. Instead of lecturing straight from a textbook, Lagalo turns to current events to help students see that business and economic factors are already at play in their daily lives.
“I use real-world examples for students in the classroom so they can make those direct connections between economics and the real world,” she says. “I use social media, television, and examples in entertainment to make it fun to learn about economics and how it applies to so many aspects of our lives. I’ve used reruns of Friends, The Office, and other sitcoms to challenge students to find examples related to economics in the episodes.”
With economics majors in high demand in the educational, energy, environmental, financial, insurance, government, and retail sectors, an exciting array of career possibilities exist for graduates of Tech’s School of Business and Economics.
Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.