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From struggle to success, WSU doctoral candidate brings global perspective to economics, food

WSU doctoral candidate Modhurima Dey Amin has worked hard and traveled far for her college education.

Amin grew up on the campus of the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute in Joydepur, Bangladesh, where her father worked as a scientist and her mother as a primary school teacher. Her academic performance was recognized by the government of Bangladesh in the form of a full merit scholarship to complete a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Economics at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

She commuted nearly four hours daily, round trip, from her hometown to the university, which meant she missed many afternoon classes, causing her to work harder.

“It was a challenge,” Amin said.

A young woman reading a book next to flowers on a campus lawn.
Amin studying on WSU’s Pullman campus.

After completing her masters in Applied Financial Economics at Illinois State University, she made her way to Washington State University for another masters in Statistics, and a PhD in Economics.

Amin’s research interests are centered on applied economics, statistics, and data science with a focus on agriculture. Her perspective from growing up on the other side of the globe allowed her to view communities in the United States with a different lens. At first, she wasn’t sure what to specialize in, until she noticed the income disparity between groups of people and their access to food.

“Many restaurants were very high end, others were not,” said Amin, whose research looks into food safety issues, and whose degree is focused on socioeconomics. “Food safety issues are related to the economics of the neighborhood. That’s how the whole idea began.”

Moving from a master’s program to a PhD was a big jump.

“I struggled with coming up with an original idea,” said Amin. She was intimidated about research, but classes like research methodology eased her mind. While at WSU, she has received rigorous training in agricultural economics, food policy, economic modeling, and computational statistics.

“I believe that it is possible to improve outcomes without compromising economic welfare,” said Amin, whose goal is to conduct policy-oriented research that helps vulnerable communities in areas deprived of safer food and environmental amenities. Of her research, Amin said, “I also hope to help agricultural stakeholders make more informed decisions.”

Modhurima’s Economics PhD defense with her advisor Jill McCluskey.

Amin has been very involved with Coug life while at WSU. She currently serves as a senator for the Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA), serving on the Programming Committee. She’s assisted in planning many fun campus events, such as free bowling, free ice cream, and an off-campus mixer at local club Etsi Brava.

“We did a yoga event just before WSU went online,” Amin said.

Like many PhD candidates, Amin is teaching classes amid social distancing measures. Luckily, in 2018, Amin developed the class she is currently teaching for the WSU global campus.

Amin turned her in-person lectures into videos, so her students can go back and revisit the material, whenever they want.

“I asked my students, is this is working for you? And they think it is.”

During COVID-19, the respite from the bustle of campus has allowed Amin to call home more often.

“I’m talking to my parents more than once a week now,” said Amin, adding that before COVID, she only had time to call on the weekend.

As they begin their college journey, Amin advises new students to be passionate about what they choose to study.

“The earlier you can start thinking about it, the better,” said Amin, who urges peers to keep their eyes open for possibilities. “Two of my papers came out just from being vigilant about the opportunities around me.”

Advice from Amin isn’t limited to education.

“It may seem odd, but I love to leave online reviews,” said Amin, explaining that her interest in food isn’t limited to her research at WSU. She enjoys giving feedback about the atmosphere and menu items of local restaurants, and being a resource of information for others.

Amin’s travels are far from over, and she will have plenty of new eateries to review in the Southwest. She’ll soon be joining Texas Tech University as an Assistant Professor.

“It will be a new adventure.”


Media Contacts

Lauren Paterson, Content Writer / Editor, 509-335-2960