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Outstanding Public Service through Economics Award 2016

NAREA has an annual Award for Outstanding Public Service through Economics. This award honors and recognizes economists who have applied agricultural, environmental, consumer, resource, or community development economics in a unique way that has contributed toward solving an important problem and improving the welfare of society.

The 2016 Award for Outstanding Public Service through Economics was awarded to David Just, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University and Co-Director of The Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs at Cornell University. Here are excerpts from the nomination letter:

Professor Just was appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Dyson School effective in 2002 upon completion of his Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2008 and to Professor effective April 1, 2014. Professor Just is applied economist whose recent research focus has been on how the food choices of food program participants could be influenced using behavioral tools. He is the founder and Co-Director of the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition (BEN Center), Professor Just has led a movement that has introduced practical changes in schools that have succeeded in nudging children to select apples rather than cookies while still providing a full array of choice ( The Center has already influenced over 20,000 schools to make changes in lunch programs. This Smarter Lunchroom Movement has received substantial press due to the quality, timeliness, and impact of this work. We believe that Professor Just’s high impact work in this area perfectly exemplifies what this award is all about.

Professor Just is a prolific researcher as evidenced by more than 100 published articles with many appearing in top journals among several different disciplines (including Review of Economics and Statistics, American Economic Review, Pediatrics, JAMA Pediatrics, American Journal of Agricultural Economics, American Journal of Clinical Nutritio). His work has won numerous research awards from the leading academic associations in the field of applied economics including Quality of Research Discovery (European Association of Applied Economists 2011, 2009; Agricultural and Applied Economics Association 2011 honorable mention), Outstanding Article (American Journal of Agricultural Economics 2009, honorable mention 2008, 2011, 2014; Choices 2009), and Quality of Communication Award (Agricultural and Applied Economics Association 2010). In the last five years Professor Just has won more outstanding research awards from the AAEA than any other individual in the world, and is tied for the most research awards from the EAAE. He has amassed a truly stunning record of research output and impact.

In addition to professional recognition, this work has also attracted significant grant money. In support of this program of work, Professor Just has been awarded more than $10 million dollars, serving as principal investigator for nearly $7 million of this. The centerpiece of this work has been the establishment of the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs (BEN), established through a grant from USDA in 2010, for which Professor Just serves as PI. Its mission is to create research-based, “smarter” lunchrooms that subtly guide children toward healthy choices within the NSLP. Given an initial $1 million grant to work with researchers, policy makers, and school lunchroom directors to design, test, and implement win-win ideas to help children make healthier choices in lunchrooms, USDA has been impressed enough with the results to increase funding to nearly $6 million.

Professor Just’s research program focusing on food decisions demonstrates how effective applied research can have an impact both within and without the halls of academia. This research focus addresses a key policy concern at a particularly important time. His research has received consistent and prominent recognition by the major academic associations in his field. Additionally, his research continues to resonate with policymakers and with practitioners alike who have widely adopted his policy recommendations. His work has had quality, quantity, and impact. Professor Just has also been an active member of NAREA. He has served on both the NAREA Board and the Editorial Board of AREA. He also served as the editor of ARER. Honoring him with the NAREA Outstanding Public Service Through Economics Award would offer richly deserved recognition to a path-breaking and phenomenally productive scholar.

Previous recipients include:

2002 Bruce Gardner
2003 Adesoji Adelaja
2004 Paul Portney
2005 Sandra Batie
2006 Thomas Johnson
2007 Nelson Bills
2008 Walter Armbruster
2009 James Horne
2010 Tom Tietenberg
2011 Ronald W. Cotterill
2012 Katherine "Kitty" Smith
2013 Al McGartland
2014 Julie Caswell
2015 Stephan Goetz
2016 David Just
2017 Dallas Butraw