Faculty Spotlight: Frank O'Connor
Dr. Frank O’Connor is professor of Economics at Eastern Kentucky University and has been doing economic analyses for CRAFT since its initiation in 2009. His primary role in CRAFT is to answer various economic questions related to the feasibility of the biodiesel industry in central Kentucky.
Thanks to Dr. O’Connor’s work, the team at CRAFT believes Kentucky has a comparative advantage in the production of switchgrass, a key input in its Cellulosic-Derived Biofuel Initiative, because it is possible to get good yields of switchgrass on marginal lands that are used for pasture and hay in central Kentucky.
“Dr. O’Connor is evaluating some of the economic aspects for producing biofuels in central Kentucky,” says Dr. Bruce Pratt, CRAFT Director. “His research has been focused at the local level.” Some of the specific areas he has evaluated are:
- Economic Impact of construction of a commercial biofuels facility in KY
- Cost of production of the primary biomass feedstock (switchgrass) in central KY
- Cost of storage of biomass to supply a commercial facility for producing Comparing economic opportunities for potential producers
- Helped conduct a biomass survey of potential biomass producers to identify: (a) interest in growing biomass; (b) identify areas that need to be addressed for producers to successfully grow biomass; (c) ways to communicate to producers; (d) how much land producers would be willing to dedicate to biomass production.
When asked why he chose the field of Economics, he said, “I was either interested in understanding how the world works, or else, running the world. In either case, Economics was the choice. The importance of bioenergy research is to provide information on the likely contribution of bioenergy to the region and to the country,” says Dr. O’Connor, “and economic analysis is essential in providing that information.”
Dr. O’Connor earned his Bachelor’s in Agricultural Science in 1962 at the National University of Ireland and his Master’s at Pennsylvania State University in 1965. His fields of interest are Microeconomics, Econometrics, and Regional Economics. In 1974, Dr. O’Connor gained his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. He came to Eastern Kentucky University in 1989 as Professor of Economics and served as Chair for the Department of Economics at EKU from 1989-1997. Before coming to EKU, he taught at Virginia Tech, Penn State, the University of Iowa, and Western Carolina University. He was also a visiting scholar at The Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin in 1998-99 and at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth in Fall 2005.
Published on February 27, 2012