Olga Isengildina-Massa, professor of agricultural and applied economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, has been named the John B. and Kristi L. Rowsell Professor by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

The professorship is established by John and Kristi Rowsell, both alumni of the agricultural and applied economics program at Virginia Tech, to support faculty leadership of the Commodity Investing by Students (COINS) program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Recipients are selected on the basis of teaching and research excellence and hold the professorship for a period of five years.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 2015, Massa has built an internationally recognized program that examines commodity market price dynamics, evaluates forecasting performance of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and private firms, develops innovative forecasting approaches, and proposes effective price risk management strategies. Her scholarship is evident in her 36 publications in prestigious journals, 77 conference proceedings and presentations, 19 research reports, three book chapters, and 15 invited presentations.

Massa has carried out multiple cooperative agreements to assist USDA in assessing and improving its forecasts, and she has participated in a National Academies of Sciences panel to develop new forecasting methods for USDA crop estimates. Massa is a recognized leader in her field, serving as a co-editor of a Southern Agricultural Economics Association journal and co-chairing the NCCC-134 committee on applied commodity price analysis, forecasting, and market risk management.

Massa leads the highly visible COINS program, a student-run commodity investment group which has grown from 14 to more than 40 students with a larger portfolio ($1.3 million) that includes 14 commodities in the agricultural, energy, and metals sectors. The program attracts students from across campus, which allows them to build on and hone their cross-disciplinary skills in the common goal of commodity investing.

In addition to advising and mentoring students, Massa facilitates industry partnerships and networking opportunities. Taken together, these efforts have resulted in 100 percent student placement at graduation, with most students landing in positions in leading agribusiness, financial, and investment firms.

In 2020, she received Virginia Tech’s Award for Excellence in Career Advising based on her efforts to connect COINS students with future employers and better prepare them for their careers.

Massa received her bachelor's degree from Tashkent State University and her master’s degree and Ph.D. from Mississippi State University.

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