From South Korea to MSU, Vincenzina Caputo continues to grow her success

Vincenzina Caputo, AFRE assistant professor, aims higher in her research on how food consumers make choice and how those choices affect the food system supply chains and policy.

June 1, 2017

Since Vincenzina Caputo joined Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics (AFRE) as an assistant professor in February 2016, she has published three peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals: Economic Inquiry, Food Policy and European Review of Agricultural Economics. She has no intention of stopping there.

“My plan for the future is to continue to grow my research program and publish my work in leading journals,” Caputo said.

Caputo joined the faculty at MSU after working as an assistant professor at Korea University, one of the three universities in South Korea. Prior to that, she was a research associate at the University of Arkansas, where she worked with Rodolfo M. Nayga Jr. She brings with her an energetic enthusiasm for research and teaching.

In 2014, Caputo was recognized by KoreaUniversity with a “best teacher” award.

“I am trying also to apply my teaching philosophy here at MSU,” Caputo said. “I try to first introduce theory to students and then try to provide real examples and, at the same time, let students apply the theory to real-world examples.”

Caputo currently teaches two undergraduate courses: Food Market Management and Retail Information Systems. Next year, she will also teach a graduate course.

Caputo’s research primarily focuses on how food consumers make choices and how those choices affect the food system, supply chains and policy.

Her empirical work looks at consumer demand, such as how consumers respond to different food labeling programs and novel products.

“My research leads to many possible policy implications that can be applied to develop new labeling programs or to assess the current labeling systems,” Caputo said.

Caputo is working with individuals in the MSU Department of Mechanical Engineering on a project combining economic data with biomechanical data to explore how people with rheumatoid arthritis of the hand make choices among different package designs. The results will inform the design of a new package, which the researchers will later test.

Caputo also researches how to better design studies. She’s collaborating with others from the MSU Horticulture and AFRE departments on a study implementing eye tracking and economic data to see how people make decisions across various experimental design dimensions.

With her hands in a variety of departments, it’s clear that Caputo is drawn to interdisciplinary projects. She has her sights set on more collaborations, too.

“In the future, I would like to combine neuroscience data with economic data through the use of these new technologies such as eye tracking, FMRI [functional magnetic resonance imaging] and virtual reality,” Caputo said. “Part of my research is focused on how we can improve the way we design experiments and analyze data. Through the use of these machines, we’re able to capture what people really do during experiments.”

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