Prof. Rimvydas (Rim) Baltaduonis can do a lot. As assistant professor of economics at Gettysburg College, he explores academic interests in energy and financial markets, experimental economics, industrial organization, mechanism design, and game theory. Oh, and he speaks seven languages too.
But even Baltaduonis needs a helping hand once in a while.
Senior Taylor Smart is serving as Baltaduonis’ current research assistant for the 2012-13 academic year. It is a position that encompasses more than simply aiding his professor in tackling a lengthy to-do list; his role extends beyond the campus to the farthest corners of the globe.
“Right now, we’re attempting to recreate the Australian electricity market as an experimental program,” Smart said. “The ultimate goal of our research is to find out which dynamic pricing schemes will yield the greatest efficiency within changing electricity environments.”
With an overarching emphasis on smart grid development, the energy research project has the potential to have a major impact Down Under, but to get it off the ground, it first required an individual to take on the challenge of programming the experiment.
“I walked into [Baltaduonis’] office and he introduced the Australian project to me by telling me that my new job was to program the experiment. Mind you, I had no experience programming prior to this moment,” Smart said. “Rim is the rare type of professor who treats every student as though they already have a doctorate – [he] never places limits on you. So I accepted the job and began to learn about electricity.”
Smart’s programming efforts and interaction with Australian graduate students have provided him with the capacity to view the field of economics from a new global perspective. As the duo’s research continues to progress, Smart has also begun to understand and appreciate the countries’ unique differences in electric structures, systems, and economies.
A lesson that is fundamental to Baltaduonis.
“If you want to get to know the world, you have to get outside the classroom,” said Baltaduonis, who has conducted workshops in Australia, Guatemala, and Lithuania. “I encourage my students to see connections, not only in the U.S., but globally. These are experiences [students] would earn in graduate school – it looks great on their resumes.”
Julie Weisz ’12, a former Gettysburg research assistant, knows firsthand that working beside Baltaduonis provides a wealth of real-world experience that many undergraduates never have the opportunity to realize.
While at Gettysburg, Weisz’s work with Baltaduonis spurred her initial idea for an economics honors research paper, “Effects of Feedback on Residential Demand for Electricity in Demand-Side Management Programs,” which she later presented at the 38th Eastern Economics Association (EEA) annual conference in Boston, Mass. In her examination, she primarily studied electricity markets, deregulation, and how to make retail electricity markets more efficient – an endeavor that earned her an acclaimed senior Honors Thesis from the Department of Economics.
“With Prof. Baltaduonis’ help, I was able to find my passion, put it into action, and share it with the world,” Weisz said. “One of the first things Prof. Baltaduonis will tell you in his classes is that grades are less important than caring about your subject and making a difference. His words really spoke to me.”
Today, Weisz employs the skills she learned from Baltaduonis for an energy-consulting firm in Washington, D.C., The Cadmus Group, Inc. Launched into the world of green energy, she currently works to increase the energy efficiency of buildings.
And who does she credit for her success? A professor who may have a laundry list of goals, including global energy solutions, but one who always makes time for each of his students.
“Prof. Baltaduonis was inspiring and encouraging,” Weisz said. “He truly had an amazing impact on my life.”
Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
Contact: Mike Baker, assistant director of communications, 717.337.6521.