Soren AndersonContact: Andy McGlashen, News Writer for Environmental Science and Policy Program: (517) 432-3823 or

Soren Anderson came to MSU as a freshly minted Ph.D., but with some high-profile experience.

The new assistant professor, jointly appointed by Economics and Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics, served for a year on the President's Council of Economic Advisers.

Despite occasional visits to the West Wing, though, Anderson didn't get carried away by the job's prestige.

"We were basically glorified research assistants," he said of the doctoral students on the council.

Anderson served in Washington during Hurricane Katrina, the aftermath of which sparked his interest in the economics of renewable energy.

As gas prices skyrocketed after the storm, he said, so did the nation's interest in alternative fuels.

"Everything seemed to take off at that point," he added.

Anderson now teaches undergraduate economics, and is planning ethanol-related research projects.

"There are some really interesting questions with ethanol markets," he said.

Anderson's doctoral dissertation was an effort to answer some of those questions, specifically related to consumer preference for E85 ethanol. He found that demand for the fuel is not as price-sensitive as predicted, indicating a strong preference for it among some people.

A Minnesota native, Anderson majored in economics as an undergraduate at Macalester College in St. Paul.

He then worked as a research assistant at Resources for the Future, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental think tank.

He lives in Ann Arbor, where his wife is a chocolate expert at Zingerman's Delicatessen.

And while many of us have had our fill of winter, Anderson is gearing up for a dog sledding trip with his father, uncle and family friends to the frigid Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness near the Minnesota – Ontario border.

They'll hire a team of dogs and a musher, and camp for three days, as they've done for several years.

"There's no one there," he said. "And it's a wilderness area, so you're pretty isolated."

That isolation means trading in the gourmet chocolate for hot cocoa and, hopefully, plenty of lake trout and walleye, he said.

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