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Haile College of Business

October 25, 2023 - NKU senior Grace McConn took home the award for best undergraduate paper from the Kentucky Economics Association (KEA) 2023 Annual Meeting. McConn’s research, To Work or to Play: Examining the Balance Between Labor and Leisure, took an in-depth look at the “income effect” in today’s workforce. 

"I was interested in the backward-bending labor supply theory because it tells us that at a certain point, perhaps we opt to give up higher wages and work less. I feel that this is extremely prevalent with the recent push for work-life balance and hybrid work styles we've seen emerge since COVID-19,” says McConn. “I’d heard from Fellows in previous years that research was equal parts challenging and rewarding. I’m not one to back down from a challenge and I knew this work would be the cherry on the top of my academic career.”

In total, five NKU students submitted research to the Kentucky Economics Association for consideration. The students are part of the Haile Research Fellows, a mentorship program developed by Dr. Abdullah Al-Barhani. The students spent the summer working on research that examines social and economic issues. Through the program they learn how to navigate research and while also building their professional and academic networks.

“Working with the Fellows is a rewarding experience, “Al-Bahrani said. “They learn how to leverage their curiosity for finding answers and develop technical data analysis skills that will help them in their professional careers”

The other Haile research fellows who submitted research to the KEA include: Fawwaaz Abdulazeez, Becca Wilson, James Blazina and Dylan Fogt.

About Northern Kentucky University: NKU is an entrepreneurial state university of more than 15,000 students on a thriving suburban campus nestled between Highland Heights, Kentucky and bustling downtown Cincinnati. Ranked in the top 50 out of 400 universities nationwide by The Wall Street Journal for exceptional value, we are a regionally engaged university committed to delivering an innovative, student-centered education. We empower our graduates to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives, while contributing to the economic, civic and social vitality of the region. Learn more at