2019 William S. Broadbent Family Graduate Fellow Awards

PERC is pleased to announce Dan Szmurlo as the recipient of the 2019 William S. Broadbent Family Graduate Fellow Award and Vanessa Elizondo as the recipient of the William S. Broadbent Family Impact Award.

William S. Broadbent Family Graduate Fellow Award
Dan Szmurlo

The Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) would like to congratulate Dan Szmurlo, recipient of the 2019 “William S. Broadbent Family Graduate Fellow Award.”  This award is made possible by the generosity of the William S. Broadbent Family Endowment, which recognizes excellence within PERC’s Graduate Fellowship Program.

Dan Szmurlo is a fourth year Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Economics at University of California, Santa Barbara where he is the recipient of the Myerson Graduate Fellowship. Dr. Randy Rucker, a PERC Senior Fellow and director of the Graduate Fellowship Program, selected Dan for this award noting his congenial and insightful contributions to PERC’s summer academic community, as well as the relevance and importance of his research to PERC’s mission to improve environmental outcomes  through economically viable practices.

Dan’s fellowship research paper is titled: “Moving to Lower Ground: NFIP Subsidies and Floodplain Development.” This work examines the impact of National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) subsidies on the propensity to develop in high-risk regions. Evidence suggested by Dan’s work indicates that the costs associated with recent floods in the United States are higher—in part—as a result of the NFIP subsidies that encourage development in flood prone regions. This subsidy provides individuals with incentives to build (and to rebuild) homes after flood disasters occur.

William S. Broadbent Family Impact Award
Vanessa Elizondo

The Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) would like to congratulate Vanessa Elizondo, recipient of the 2019 “William S. Broadbent Family Impact Award,” for her contribution to research that is helping preserve American rangelands through reforms to the U.S. government’s wild horse management policies. This award is made possible by the generosity of the William S. Broadbent Family Endowment, which recognizes graduate fellows whose research has resulted in important conservation gains in policy or practice.

Vanessa Elizondo is a professor at the Universidad de Concepcion, Faculty of Law and Social Sciences and is a lawyer in Chile. She received her bachelor’s degree in Law and Social Sciences from the University of Chile and her Master’s Degree in Applied Economics from Montana State University. As a 2010 PERC Graduate Fellow, Vanessa worked on her Master’s thesis research project under the guidance of PERC Senior Fellow Randy Rucker and PERC Lone Mountain Fellow Tim Fitzgerald.  This project provided an economic analysis of the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro program and also suggested a number of possible solutions to problems created by the overabundance of wild horses and burros on American rangelands. This important research caught the attention of the Department of Interior as they have searched for solutions to wild-horse-related problems and has led to the implementation of an innovative incentive-based program to assist in resolving the billion dollar wild horse crisis. Rather than requiring individuals to pay a minimum of $125 to adopt a wild horse, the program that has recently been implemented offers an incentive payment of $1,000 to individuals who privately adopt a wild horse. This modification has the potential to not only save wild horses from starvation, but to also improve habitat for at-risk rangeland species, and to save taxpayers an average of $49,000 over the lifetime of a single horse.

Without her and her co-authors’ innovative solution to the overgrazing by wild horses of American rangelands, PERC would not have been able to make significant contributions to the conservation of wild horses, burros, and the grasslands that provide habitat to so many at-risk species.  


PERC’s Graduate Fellowship Program gives graduate and law students the opportunity to spend three months at PERC researching and writing a paper under the mentorship of a PERC Senior Fellow and visiting scholars. Topics include natural resources, innovative conservation techniques, property rights, and environmental issues. In addition, fellows are given the opportunity to attend summer seminars  presented by scholars of diverse backgrounds, conservation professionals, and policymakers who can fasttrack graduate fellows’ research and career opportunities. This program is made possible by generous support from the Helen I. Graham Charitable Foundation.

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