ACRE: Our People


ACRE-Seize-the-Daisies-Photography(HighRes)(23of209)David Mitchell, PhD


Dr. David Mitchell is the Director of the Arkansas Center for Research in Economics. He earned his B.S. and MA in economics from Clemson University and was awarded his PhD from George Mason University. While at George Mason, he had the pleasure of studying under two Nobel laureates: James Buchanan and Vernon Smith. Prior to earning his PhD, he worked in the insurance industry in both the United States and Germany. Before starting at the University of Central Arkansas, he taught at St. Mary’s College of California, Washington and Lee University, and the University of South Alabama. At the University of Central Arkansas, Dr. Mitchell teaches Principles of Economics, Public Finance, and Econometrics. His research interests include state-level public finance and entrepreneurship policy. He has published in the Southern Economic Journal, the Journal of Small Business Management, the American Journal of Managed Care, and Forbes. He and his family live in Little Rock.

Assistant Director

ACRE-Seize-the-Daisies-Photography(HighRes)(11of209)Christy Horpedahl, MA


Ms. Christy Horpedahl is the assistant director at the Arkansas Center for Research in Economics. Before coming to the University of Central Arkansas, Ms. Horpedahl taught as an adjunct professor at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. She was a faculty member in the Buena Vista University’s Gender and Women’s Studies program and has lectured numerous times on the causes of the gender pay gap. She has taught courses on censorship; utopias, dystopias, and intentional communities; the lives and works of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley; and George Orwell’s major works. Ms. Horpedahl received her masters of social science from the University of Chicago with a focus on the intersection of economics and psychology. Her undergraduate degree is from the renowned “Great Books” school, St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. She lives in Conway with her family.

Program Coordinator

ACRE-Seize-the-Daisies-Photography(HighRes)(6of209)Terra Aquia, BA


Ms. Terra Aquia is the program coordinator at the Arkansas Center for Research in Economics. She is from the Tennessee mountains, but has called Conway, Arkansas, home since 2013. While an undergrad at the University of Central Arkansas, she was an ACRE student research fellow. She graduated from UCA in the spring of 2016 with a BA in history and a minor in anthropology. Her research is on legal and economic history with a focus on the creation, implementation, and evolution of state-level legislation.

Research and Program Assistant

Zach Burt, BA


Mr. Zachary Burt is a research and program assistant at the Arkansas Center for Research in Economics. He graduated from the University of Arkansas Little Rock in the spring of 2015 with a BA in anthropology and a minor in history, and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from UALR. His research at ACRE involves Arkansas state government expenditures. Zach currently resides in Little Rock and his hobbies include cooking, travel, and exploring Arkansas’s rivers and mountains.

Communications Coordinator

Caleb Taylor, BA


Mr. Caleb Taylor is the communications coordinator at the Arkansas Center for Research in Economics. Before joining ACRE, he worked as a journalist for six years at print and online outlets such as the Advance Arkansas Institute, Pennsylvania Independent, the Paragould Daily Press, and the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record. He graduated in 2011 with a BA in history from Henderson State University. He lives in Conway. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, chess, and playing tennis.

Policy Analysts

Joyce Ajayi, MPS


Ms. Ajayi is a policy analyst with Arkansas Center for Research in Economics (ACRE).  She brings to her work a background in law, government, and nonprofits. Her research interests include government transparency, issues related to women’s empowerment, and child welfare. Her work on government transparency was recently accepted for publication in the Southwest Business and Economic JournalShe is a candidate in the interdisciplinary PhD in Leadership Studies program at the University of Central Arkansas. She holds a master’s degree in public service from the University of Arkansas’s Clinton School of Public Service and law degrees from Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria and the Nigerian Law School. She lives in Little Rock with her family.


Maryam Almasifard, PhD


Dr. Maryam Almasifard is an economic policy analyst with Arkansas Center for Research in Economics.  During her PhD Study, she collaborated with United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) on the first global report of blended finance in the least developed countries. Her research interest includes development economics, Labor market, and financial regulation. Her background is in Applied Economics, Finance, and Statistics and she was awarded her PhD in applied economics from Texas Tech University.  She lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Mavuto Kalulu, PhD


Dr. Mavuto Kalulu is a policy analyst with the Arkansas Center for Research in Economics. His research interests include K-12 education and public corruption. His work on corruption has been published in the Journal of Development and Communications and his articles on K-12 education have been featured in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Jonesboro Sun and the Log Cabin Democrat. He was awarded his PhD in economics from the University of Mississippi and his MBA from Lincoln University. He lives in Conway.

 Alex Kanode, MA


Mr. Alex Kanode is an economic policy analyst with the Arkansas Center for Research in Economics. His research focus is on occupational licensing. He was a coauthor of the research paper “The Costs of Occupational Licensing in Alabama” published by the Alabama Policy Institute. Mr. Kanode earned an MA in economics from George Mason University, where he was also an MA Fellow at the Mercatus Center. He lives in Conway.


ACRE-Seize-the-Daisies-Photography(HighRes)(4of209)Suzanne Massey, BBA


Ms. Suzanne Massey graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a BBA, and before coming to ACRE, spent a number of years managing operations in the hospitality sector, the education field, and the finance industry. She has extensive knowledge and experience in accounting, human resources, legal compliance, and business administration. At ACRE, Suzanne oversees the financial accounting of the program by ensuring best practices, excellent controls, and attention to detail. In her spare time, Suzanne enjoys being outdoors, cooking, reading and attending classes.

ACRE Scholars

ACRE-Seize-the-Daisies-Photography(HighRes)(20of209)Jeremy Horpedahl, PhD

Dr. Jeremy Horpedahl is an assistant professor of economics at the University of Central Arkansas as well as an ACRE Scholar. He received his PhD in economics from George Mason University in 2009, concentrating in public choice, public finance, and economic history. His research has been published in Econ Journal Watch, Constitutional Political Economy, the Atlantic Economic Journal, Public Choice, and Public Finance and Management. Dr. Horpedahl has also published op-eds in a variety of regional and national publications. In addition to his academic publications, several of his policy briefs and papers on favoritism and state tax codes have been published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Marcus Witcher, PhD


Dr. Marcus Witcher is the scholar-in-residence at the Arkansas Center for Research in Economics and is affiliated with the Department of History at the University of Central Arkansas. In addition to being an engaging and enthusiastic educator, Dr. Witcher specializes in political, economic, and intellectual history from 1920 to the present. His specialization is Modern American Conservatism and his manuscript “Getting Right with Reagan: Conservatives and the Fortieth President, 1980-2016” is currently under review. Dr. Witcher earned his BA in history from the UCA in 2011 and received his PhD in history from the University of Alabama in 2017. He offers classes in Modern American History, including courses on the Cold War, the conservative movement, and US economic development. His research on conservatism has appeared in White House Studies, and he is the coeditor of a three-volume anthology titled Public Choice Analyses of American Economic History. Dr. Witcher is currently researching for his next book-length project, Why Here? Sam Walton, J.B. Hunt, John Tyson and the Entrepreneurs Who Built Benton County.

ACRE-Seize-the-Daisies-Photography(LowRes)(2of2)Thomas Snyder, PhD


Dr. Thomas Snyder is an associate professor of economics at the University of Central Arkansas and an ACRE Scholar. He earned his BA in economics at Florida State University and his PhD in economics at Florida International University. At UCA, Dr. Snyder has taught Principles of Microeconomics, Principles of Macroeconomics, Environmental Economics, Economics of Developing Nations, Econometrics, Comparative Economic Systems, and International Trade. His main research interests are economic freedom, entrepreneurship, and economic growth. Dr. Snyder has published articles in several journals, including the Journal of Private Enterprise, the Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy, and the Eastern Economic Journal. He has also served four years as the resident master of EPIC Residential College, an entrepreneurship-based program for upper-level students at UCA. Dr. Snyder currently lives in Conway.

Affiliated Researcher

ACRE-Seize-the-Daisies-Photography(HighRes)(15of209)Jacob Bundrick, MS


Mr. Jacob Bundrick, a native of northwest Arkansas, is a policy analyst with the Arkansas Center for Research in Economics. His research spans public finance, financial economics, and economic development. Mr. Bundrick’s research has been published in the Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy, International Advances in Economic Research, and the Review of Regional Studies. His articles have been featured in Bloomberg BNA, the Baltimore Sun, Dallas Morning News, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Arkansas Business, and Talk Business & Politics. He has also been a guest speaker on the Conduit News Radio, the Dave Elswick Show, and the Doc Washburn Show. Mr. Bundrick earned a BBA in economics from the University of Central Arkansas, where he received a scholarship to play football for the UCA Bears, and an MS in applied economics from Johns Hopkins University.