Jennifer M. Shand, PhD
Jennifer Shand is the Director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Marshall University. Her areas of expertise include regional economics, economic development, labor economics and consumer finance and demographics. Prior to joining CBER, Dr. Shand worked at Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development, where she worked across university departments and with regional and industry partners to address a variety of issues throughout the State. Her background includes working with local communities, non-profits and industry on applied research projects at the Economics Center at the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Shand’s projects include building custom forecasting and analytical tools, industry and market analyses and working with consortia of regional and industry stakeholders. Dr. Shand received her Ph.D. in Economics from the Ohio State University in 2008, with specializations in International Economics and Regional Development. Her personal research focuses on the implications of personal debt for various household decisions such as home ownership and starting a family. She received a master’s degree in Economics from Miami University of Ohio in 2003 and her bachelor’s degree in Economics and International Affairs from James Madison University in 2002.
Frank Betz
Executive Director/CEO
As the Rahall Transportation Institute (RTI) and Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) executive director/chief executive officer Frank Betz is responsible for the overall strategic and operational direction of the two organizations’ programs, staff, as well as the execution of their missions. He leads a dynamic team of business, academic and research professionals working to enhance economic development opportunities through basic and applied research, applications and technology solutions for public and private organizations. Currently, Frank serves as the assistant director of the Multimodal Transportation Infrastructure Consortium (MTIC), one of ten Tier I University Transportation Centers. Frank was formerly the chief operating officer of RTI. Prior to joining RTI, he performed a variety of functions working with some of the country’s top product and technology firms. Frank is the former vice president of finance & operations for a multi-state healthcare provider. He also served as a European strategic planning manager and software product manager for 3M France, where he worked cross-functionally with European business unit heads and product managers to streamline their operations. Adept at developing complex financial models, negotiating strategic alliances and delivering technology solutions, he was cofounder and chief information officer of a multinational dot-com internet technology company based in Silicon Valley. Frank started his career as a research coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Cognitive Therapy with publications in the field of psychology.

 Frank is fluent in French. He earned his Master’s in International Business from Pepperdine University, the Institut de Gestion Sociale and La Sorbonne in Paris, France in 1995. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
James Atkinson
Data Network Specialist 1
Lisa Christopher
Office Administrator, Senior
Alicia Copley
Research Assistant
Alicia Copley began working at the Center for Business and Economic Research at Marshall University in 2008 as an Undergraduate Research Assistant while completing a B.B.A. in Economics and Finance. She attended Ohio State University earning a M.S. in Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics. After completing her graduate work and teaching microeconomics at Ohio University for a year, Ms. Copley returned to CBER as a Research Associate. She has collaborated on projects involving a wide range of energy topics: imports, exports and usage of energy sources in West Virginia; natural gas opportunities in manufacturing, transportation and electricity generation; and coal production, capacity and forecasting. Ms. Copley has assisted in completing reports for clientele including the West Virginia Division of Energy, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and Vision Shared.
Justin Matthews
Senior Research Associate
Mr. Matthews is a Senior Research Associate for CBER. Prior to joining CBER, he was a Research Associate for the Nick J. Rahall Appalachian Transportation Institute. He has significant experience in public-private partnerships and innovative program delivery methods for highway infrastructure, as well as data collection, transportation rate studies, economic modeling and economic impact studies. Mr. Matthews has assisted in the writing of several grant proposals to Federal and state agencies to support economic development activities. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Accounting from Marshall University and holds an M.B.A. in addition to a Master’s of Science in Industrial Employee Relations from Marshall University.
Judy Olson
Grants Resource Associate
Christine Risch
Director of Resource and Energy Economics

Christine Risch is the Director of Resource and Energy Economics for the Center for Business and Economic Research at Marshall University. Her work for the Center focuses on regional industry and market analysis, and energy and environmental policy analysis, including economic impact analysis. Specific industries of focus are natural gas, coal, electricity, energy efficiency and renewable energy. Christine is a member of the Special Reclamation Advisory Council of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, where she represents the Actuary/Economist position on the Council.

Christine designed the West Virginia Stock Index, which tracks the top 25 publicly traded firms that do business in West Virginia. Prior to joining CBER she worked as a contractor for the Department of Energy in Washington, DC, in Maryland and ICF, Inc. in Virginia. Christine holds a master's degree in Energy Economics from the Pennsylvania State University and a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Marshall University.

Kent Sowards
Director of Research and Strategy

Kent Sowards currently serves as the Director of Research and Strategy for Rahall Transportation Institute (RTI) and the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER). Mr. Sowards has held various positions during his tenure at RTI/CBER focusing on transportation, education and taxation issues by providing research, legislative testimony and policy analysis. Mr. Sowards received his bachelor’s degree in Management from Marietta College and his M.B.A. from Marshall University. He is currently completing his Ph.D. in Political Science at Kent State University.