Who We Are
Director of Transportation Economics
Demographic Research Specialist
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, bigdough.com 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 currently serves as the Associate Director of Marshall University’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) and as the Research Coordinator of the Nick J. Rahall, II Appalachian Transportation Institute (RTI). Mr. Sowards has held various positions during his 15 years at CBER including the Director of Data and Survey Services and Research Associate. At CBER he has focused on education and taxation issues, 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.
At RTI, Mr. Sowards is tasked with locating funding opportunities; prioritizing and oversight of RTI research projects; and contribution to the overall strategic direction of the Institute. Prior to accepting his current position, Mr. Sowards held the titles of Data and Survey Specialist and then Senior Policy Analyst for RTI.
He serves on the Association for University Business and Economic Research (AUBER) Board of Directors, the Transportation Research Board’s Inland Water Transportation (AW020) Committee and has served as a member of (West Virginia) Governor Joe Manchin’s Tax Modernization Project as well as the Vision Shared Rural Broadband Economic Development Steering Committee. Mr. Sowards also serves as the Chair of the Research Subcommittee and on the Director’s Advisory Council for the Multimodal Transportation Infrastructure Consortium (MTIC), a collaborative University Transportation Center funded through the US Department of Transportation.