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Meet the Faculty

John Abell

Image of John Abell
Professor of Economics, Carl Stern Chair of Economics
B.S., Centre College of Kentucky; M.S., Ph.D., University of Kentucky


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John D. Abell is Professor of Economics at Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia. He received his Masters and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Kentucky (1983,1985).

Although his formal training was in the areas of macroeconomics, monetary economics, and finance, his teaching and research have evolved over the years in the direction of food and sustainability. Initially, this work took him to the central highlands of Guatemala where he found the economic development programs of the parroquia of San Lucas Tolimán to be particularly influential.

More recently, he has taken the exact same concerns (food and sustainability) and shifted his focus to the inner city of Lynchburg, Virginia. In 2011, he offered a course for the first time on the Economics of Food and Sustainability. He had his students embark on a research project that examined Lynchburg's food desert. They went out into the downtown area to investigate convenience stores and nearby grocery stores to compare prices and food availability. They found prices averaging 90 percent more in the convenience stores and virtually no fresh food. Their findings were published as "Inner City Food Deserts: Case Study of Lynchburg, Virginia", Virginia Economic Journal, 16, 41-64. Sabbatical research in spring semester 2014 on the topic of hunger and poverty in Lynchburg was documented in a video blog (The hunger-poverty nexus. Food? What is its proper role? Case study of Lynchburg, Virginia) that can be found at The findings were also published as “The Hunger-Poverty Nexus and Local Food Solutions: Case Study of Lynchburg, Virginia”, in the Virginia Social Science Journal, 16, 51-72 (2015).

He taught environmental economics for the first time in spring 2016 and worked with his students to conduct a product life cycle of two cheeseburgers, one commercially produced and sold at a downtown convenience store and another one assembled from ingredients found at the Lynchburg Community Market. Findings were presented at the Randolph College Symposium of Artists and Scholars.

His interests take him out into the community where he formerly served on the board of directors for the Lynchburg Area Food Council (2012-14) and is currently serving on the board of Lynchburg Daily Bread and the steering committee for the (planned) downtown food cooperative Grassroots Local Market. He has assisted in the building of two organic gardens: one in the Daniel's Hill neighborhood (2013) and more recently at New Vistas School (2014). 



Mark Harrison

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Chair of the Economics/Business Department, Associate Professor of Economics/Business
B.S., Mississippi State University; M.S., Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin

Academics is my second career. As an undergraduate, I majored (at various times) in philosophy, chemistry, computer science, and chemical engineering. I finished with a degree in chemical engineering . . . and then promptly went to work as a petroleum engineer. I spent 12 years in the oil business, including 10 wonderful years in the Philippines, serving as an engineering and management consultant to petroleum companies.

The oil business was kind to me, but at the ripe old age of 35 I wanted to try something new. So I returned to graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin. I earned a Ph.D. in Economics . . . and then promptly began teaching business courses in MBA programs. Today I pursue a career in academics, teaching and writing on topics in business and economics.

In my spare time I enjoy being outdoors, travel, and residential architecture. In 2007 I crewed on a 42-foot catamaran for a transatlantic voyage, from Hampton Roads to the Azores to Gibraltar. In 2010 I canoed in the Wabakimi Wilderness of northern Ontario.

I travel abroad as often as I can. In 2009 I visited the Sekolah Bisnis dan Manajemen at the Institut Teknologi Bandung in Indonesia as a Fulbright Scholar, and more recently I have visited at Franklin University of Switzerland.

In 1998 I designed and built a house in Peterborough, New Hampshire. I hope someday to design another house, for Lynchburg . . . but this time I will let someone else build it!

Jeffery Heinfeldt

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Associate Professor of Economics/Business
B.S., M.B.A., Bowling Green State University; Ph.D., Kent State University

I earned my BSBA and MBA degrees from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio and received a Ph.D. in Finance from Kent State University, also in Ohio.

I have professional experience in the areas of banking and corporate accounting. I have taught a wide range of courses in the past: finance, accounting, management, and economics. The students and their education are my main priorities. In keeping with this focus on student education, I enjoy conducting research that is applied and pedagogical in nature. I am particularly interested in topics that improve the classroom experience for the students and enhance my teaching effectiveness. Specific areas of research have included financial education/pedagogy, stakeholder theory, and firm value.

As for outside interests and activities, my wife, Denise, and I enjoy sports (biking, jogging, tennis, etc.), travel and relaxing (when possible).

I sum up my thoughts on business, and specifically finance, education as follows: I believe financial education is of value to students whether they pursue a career in the discipline or not. In particular, basic financial literacy is an important life skill. As a teacher, I would like students to gain an understanding of, and an appreciation for, finance and to have had a positive experience along the way.

Elizabeth Perry-Sizemore

Image of Elizabeth Perry-Sizemore
Division Head - Social and Behavioral Sciences and Professor of Economics
B.A., Randolph-Macon Woman's College; M.A., Ph.D., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Elizabeth Perry-Sizemore, head of the Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Randolph College, is the Catherine Ehrman Thoresen and William Thoresen Chair of Economics in the Department of Economics and Business.

She earned her Ph.D. in economics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 2004. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Randolph-Macon Woman's College.

Liz is the past director of the competitive and college-wide Student/Faculty Summer Research Program at Randolph-Macon Woman's College and past chair of Randolph's Symposium of Artists and Scholars. In her earlier role as an Assistant Dean, she helped design and participate in the selection process for the Randolph Innovative Student Experience (RISE) program, which awards grants to Randolph students to pursue scholarly and creative endeavors.

Liz is an elected Social Sciences Councilor with the Council on Undergraduate Research and an experienced facilitator at CUR's Social Science Institutes, helping teams of faculty and administrators from other institutions develop proposals for enhancing undergraduate research on their own campuses and speaking on curricular scaffolding for undergraduate research experiences. Within her own discipline, she is a former faculty advisor to the online student-refereed journal Illinois Wesleyan Undergraduate Economic Review (IWUER). She is the student research module coordinator for the National Science Foundation-funded Starting Point: Teaching and Learning Economics, a pedagogic portal project developed by economists in collaboration with the Science Education Resource Center of Carleton College (National Science Foundation Grant DUE0817382, $497,953, PIs: M. Maier, C. Manduca, K. McGoldrick, S. Simkins). She is the coauthor of The American Economist article "Creating Quality Undergraduate Research Programs in Economics: How, When, Where (and Why)" with Steve DeLoach and Mary Borg.

Liz advises independent undergraduate research projects in a number of her classrooms, but also engages in student/faculty community-based research collaborations with undergraduate students through paid summer research positions, independent studies, experiential learning opportunities, and her service learning public economics course. Currently, she and several students are working in service to the Tinbridge Hill neighborhood of Lynchburg, Virginia to assess the City Council-approved, neighborhood-owned Growing Tinbridge Hill Neighborhood Plan. Earlier student projects included collecting and analyzing data to help inform the goals of the Plan. A number of Liz's students have presented their work to the local community and at regional conferences.

Andria Smythe

Image of Andria Smythe
Assistant Professor of Economics
B.A., St. Joseph's University; M.A., Ph.D., Temple University

Economics professor Andria Smythe is one of the newest professors factoring into the academic equation at Randolph this fall.

A native of Jamaica, Smythe earned her bachelor's degree in economics from Saint Joseph's University in 2006. She went on to receive a master's degree in economics in 2011, and a Ph.D. in economics in 2015 from Temple University.

While at Temple, Smythe taught several undergraduate courses, including The American Economy, Macroeconomic Principles, Public Control of Businesses, Economics of Development and Growth, and more. She also worked as a graduate research assistant at Temple's Institute for Schools and Society and at the Center for Research in Human Development and Education.

She has published findings from several of her research projects. One of the most notable was her dissertation on the effects of the recent recession on college enrollment and outcomes. For her research, she examined whether people were more likely to enroll in college during the recession and how likely they were to finish college.

"What I found is people enrolled during recessions are less likely to finish college, which has huge implications," she said. "During recessions, higher education is often one of the first budget cuts, so we need to reconsider that because we may be hurting college outcomes."

Smythe plans to continue her research, this time examining student loans.

"I really think this kind of research has applications in so many different ways," she said. "I want to keep at this and pull my students in because it's knowledge that's relevant for them. Hopefully it will grab their interest and make them want to do research after they leave Randolph College."

When she's not in the classroom or compiling statistics, Smythe can be found enjoying the outdoors. A sprinter in college, she still enjoys running and has taken on the new hobby of rock climbing since arriving in Lynchburg.

She has also enjoyed meeting people in the Randolph community and has appreciated the warm welcome she received. "I think what I like most is the people are so genuine," she said. "People know about each other, care about each other, and they look out for you."

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