Researcher wins CEDA prize

Ms Bethany Cooper, Associate Lecturer in the Regional School of Business at La Trobe’s Albury-Wodonga campus has won the inaugural CEDA Prize for Excellence in Economics and Public Policy.

Bethany Cooper CEDA, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, is an independent, not-for-profit body formed in 1960 that aims to inform, influence and raise the standard of discussion and research about the issues shaping Australia's economic and social development.

CEDA launched the Prize for Excellence in Economics and Public Policy earlier this year in celebration of its 50th anniversary. In a press release for the launch, CEDA stated that the prize was “…to engage the brightest minds in the search for the best policy ideas”.

Ms Cooper’s report, titled “Urban water restrictions in Australia: Accounting for behavioural differences”, was awarded first place, winning a $5,000 prize and the opportunity to participate in a panel at a CEDA forum. The report will also be published on the CEDA website and form part of a CEDA research publication.

The winning report closely examines individual preferences towards urban water regulations with an aim to develop models that take into account both psychographic and economic variables.
Ms Cooper said winning the prize was exciting and unexpected. “I submitted my report a month ago, so it was a very pleasant surprise. I received a phone message from CEDA saying that there was some good news. I was out of the office at the time and returned to find an email telling me that I had won,” said Ms Cooper, recalling the lead up to the news.

David Byers, CEDA Chief Executive, said the prize is “…awarded to the best economics and policy students in Australian universities”, adding that it will “… encourage excellence in these fields and promote continued study”.

Ultimately, Ms Cooper’s research should assist in the development of improved urban water policies and to “…establish welfare estimates regarding avoiding urban water restrictions entirely”.

In 2009, Ms Cooper’s excellent research in this area won the prestigious Heading East Prize granted by the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society. Bethany’s prize included presenting a research paper at the Society’s annual conference in New Zealand.

Ms Cooper is pursuing a research career and is currently completing a PhD focusing on water policy and urban water restrictions. Gaining such recognition from CEDA for her outstanding work is an important achievement.

The prize will be presented at CEDA’s 50th Anniversary Dinner in Melbourne on 29 November, 2010. Unfortunately, Ms Cooper will be unable to attend as she will be travelling to India as a team member of a Commonwealth Government sponsored water policy research project.

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