Challey Spotlight: Veeshan Rayamajhee

|   Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth

The Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth is highlighting the impact of our faculty and students at NDSU and in the community. This month, we are shining a spotlight on Challey Scholar, Veeshan Rayamajhee.

Challey Spotlight: Veeshan Rayamajhee

Challey Scholar

Veeshan Rayamajhee is a scholar in the Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth and an assistant professor of economics in the Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics at North Dakota State University. He teaches courses in public economics, game theory, market values, and new institutional economics. His research examines societal responses to natural hazards and other covariate shocks. 

Veeshan, tell us about your role as an assistant professor at NDSU.  
I teach courses in New Institutional Economics, Research Philosophy, and Market Values and Macroeconomics. In my classes, I enjoy teaching about institutions the most. There are many myths about markets and market-based systems that are distorted by people's ideological predispositions. I like to discuss with my students how markets emerge spontaneously in unexpected places to resolve coordination challenges, and where they don't exist, to examine what factors lead to their suppression, and what the economic consequences of such policies and programs can be. In part, my research also examines economic institutions. So, I like to bring insights and puzzles from my research into classroom discussion. Other than that, I like to highlight how economic insights can be used to illuminate many of the challenges we face as a society, not just those related to the broader macroeconomic phenomena that economists are accused of studying. 

How did you initially get started in this work?     

My past work has focused on issues related to post-disaster recovery, climate adaptation, and health crises (including the pandemic and obesity). Through my work on post-disaster recovery, I came to understand that institutions play immensely important roles. In particular, our social institutions not only assist in post-disaster recovery, they also determine the economic trajectories of societies. The choices we make both individually and collectively in the aftermath of a major disaster can have lasting consequences.

That pushed me to inquire further into why our institutions are the way they are in the first place. I have found this line of inquiry to be very intellectually fulfilling and have used similar insights to analyze issues in environmental economics (from nurdles to fisheries), development economics (focusing on South Asia), and health economics.  

What class are you most excited to lead this fall?    

This fall, I am teaching a graduate course on Research Philosophy. I am excited to teach our graduate students how to transition from being a good student to becoming a successful researcher. The graduate curriculum in economics focuses a lot on equipping students with mathematical and statistical tools to be able to grasp theories and conduct empirical research. However, once the analysis is complete, student success relies heavily on their ability to communicate their findings to other scholars. This is an important skill that is not taught in most of our graduate curriculum. It is simply expected that they will learn this along the way. I am glad to be able to help students in their research journeys. 

Recently you co-published, "Shock Me Like A Hurricane: How Hurricane Katrina Changed Louisiana's Formal and Informal Institutions." Tell us about what you learned and if there was anything surprising about the results.

The findings of the paper did not surprise me. We show in the paper that Hurricane Katrina in 2005 had lasting consequences for Louisiana's formal institutions. We find that the hurricane led to a reduction in property taxes and government employment (as a share of total employment). This partly explains existing research that shows that the hurricane, despite its many devastating immediate consequences, led to positive long-run economic outcomes. This surprised many, so we added another explanation to answer that puzzle. We also find that social institutions tend to be more adaptive to major shocks. 

How has philanthropy supported your work?  

The work on Hurricane Katrina (discussed previously) would not have been possible without philanthropic support. In fact, Corbin Clark, one of the co-authors of the paper and a former NDSU graduate student, was a direct beneficiary of a scholarship funded through philanthropic contributions. Philanthropy is crucial for producing impartial scholarship, particularly if the topic under investigation is controversial or does not fit the dominant narrative. Often publicly funded projects face a different set of incentives that can be restrictive and thus need to be counterbalanced by philanthropy-supported scholarship.


The Sheila and Robert Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth aims to advance understanding in the areas of innovation, trade, institutions, and human potential to identify policies and solutions for the betterment of society. Learn more at
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