Wharton senior emerges as a scholar


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Wharton senior Laura Boudreau gave an Emerging Scholar Talk about her research in environmental policy Wednesday.


Though many impressive undergraduate students conduct research at Penn, not all are given the opportunity to publicly discuss their work.

On Wednesday, the Emerging Scholar Talk — an undergraduate speaking competition developed by Communication Within the Curriculum — bestowed this honor on Wharton senior Laura Boudreau, who talked about her research in environmental policy. Her presentation was entitled “Promoting Food Security in a Volatile Environment: Micro Insurance Protection for Senegalese Farmers.”

The Emerging Scholar Talk competition is dedicated to recognizing students for both outstanding scholarship and speaking ability.

The student’s research must not only be outstanding, but “different” according to College senior Jaclyn Hall, a CWiC editorial board member. The EST research presentation should be “academic and factual” but at the same time “accessible” to a broader audience, Hall said. “We like to focus on breadth as well as depth.”

Boudreau became interested in doing research in Senegal after she studied abroad in 2009 — the country “was so colorful, so vibrant and so full of life,” she said.

“Unfortunately, life in Senegal is not always easy,” Boudreau said, explaining that its agricultural industry has been “left behind.”

Boudreau’s research explored possible financial solutions for agricultural travails in Senegal.

“It’s a food insecure environment,” Boudreau said, and stressed that the threat of climate change is a main factor that can be particularly devastating to Senegalese farmers. There’s either “a lot of flooding or a lot of drought,” she said.

One of the solutions Boudreau offered was agricultural insurance, or micro insurance, which is “an insurance product accessible either by price or delivery channel to people earning less than $2 per day.”

Boudreau’s presentation was well received by her fellow students and instructors. At the end of the presentation, Earth and Environmental Science professor Robert Giegengack asked why Boudreau was being honored as an emerging scholar — “when she is clearly, already emerged!” He responded, “Penn Undergraduates are an enormously overlooked resource.”

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