Austin Sanders received the 2020 Distinguished Thesis Award as part of this year’s virtual CAFNR Celebration of Excellence Awards. Sanders graduated with his Master’s in agricultural and applied economics from CAFNR in spring 2020. During the course of his Masters program, his thesis research was guided by his supervisor, Sarah Low, associate professor in the Division of Applied Social Sciences. He received his Bachelor’s in political science from Mizzou in 2015. Both Sanders and Low were honored as part of Celebration of Excellence.
Sanders’s thesis, Rural Agglomeration: How Does the Distribution of People Across Rural America Affect Entrepreneurship, researches how agglomeration can reduce costs and provide a market for businesses. “He devised a measure for rural agglomeration, tested his expectations appropriately and clearly communicated the results. The major contribution of the thesis is to confirm that there are two types of entrepreneurs who respond differently to the same environment,” says Judith Stallman, professor emeritus.
“Austin grew up on a farm in rural central Missouri and was always interested in how his hometown fared in business, education, and quality of life and wondered what might be done to improve those areas in the future,” Low says.
“Austin was scheduled to present his thesis results at the 60th annual meeting of the Southern Regional Science Association (SRSA). SRSA is the premier venue for rural development-related social science research. The conference was cancelled but Austin’s thesis was one of 10 selected SRSA summer webinars.”