SPUR 2021: Alexandra Vlasenkova, W’24

I always enjoyed posing questions and coming up with my own answers. Being an international student from Moscow, I like having different perspectives on different countries and economies. I attempted writing a research paper in my high school, but I wanted to finally learn how to do it properly. The Wharton Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR) gave me resources for that.

Under the supervision of my research adviser, assistant professor of finance Sylvain Catherine, I was able to come up with a specific research question that I was passionate about and discover answers on my own terms: Factors influencing individual investment on the Russian stock market. I looked specifically at what factors influence the presence and the amount of individual investment on the Russian stock market, as well as the behavior of individuals on the Russian stock market.

I compared Russia to Brazil, India, China and the United States. Because my research topic was connected to the investment in another country, I got to learn many different investment behaviors across the world, compare them and identify historical reasons for the similarities or differences. The research was virtual, so I conducted it from Moscow, New York, and Philadelphia.

Research provided not just the insight into investment around the world, but also helped me learn about myself. I knew that I liked posing my own questions, but I also discovered that I liked reading about someone else’s train of thought when I was going through the past research in my field. SPUR taught me how to manage my time more efficiently and that it’s ok to be looking for a research question for a long time.

One of the most challenging parts was actually narrowing down to a very specific focus, because I enjoyed different related spheres and wanted to study all of them. However, during the research one of the most important parts is to choose specific topic so that you can go truly in-depth and contribute to your field significantly.

As advice to others, I would say it is very important to choose the research adviser who will be willing to guide you. Independent research can be challenging if done completely independently the first time, and I think it is important to learn from the experienced faculty to have a great first time. I received very valuable help and advice on the resources for my research and evaluations every two weeks. If done properly, it can become your field of passion for a long time and the connection that you have established with your mentor can be very valuable not just professionally but also personally.

Factors influencing individual investment on the Russian stock market by Alexandra Vlasenkova