Space junk — as big as a broken satel­lite or as small as a speck of paint — is poten­tially cat­a­strophic, according to North­eastern Uni­ver­sity stu­dent researcher Evan Sankey.

Two clouds of junk could col­lide with each other and render entire orbits unus­able,” says Sankey, a third-​​year eco­nomics major whose research on space law was recently pub­lished in ECON­Press, an under­grad­uate research journal founded by North­eastern stu­dents last year.

Stu­dents cel­e­brated the release of the fall 2010 issue of ECON­Press on Dec. 7, in the Curry Stu­dent Center Ballroom.

Stu­dents from North­eastern, Har­vard Uni­ver­sity, Boston Uni­ver­sity and New York Uni­ver­sity were pub­lished in the latest edi­tion, which fea­tures top-​​quality research on topics ranging from arbi­trage pricing theory to the rela­tion­ship between high birth rates and eco­nomic growth.

Sankey’s paper argues that giving space agen­cies prop­erty rights to spe­cific loca­tions on the moon would mit­i­gate the impact of space junk. The issue also fea­tures an analysis of the his­tory of poverty in the United States by North­eastern alumnus and ECON­Press cofounder Angel Roque.

The pub­li­ca­tion pro­vides student-​​centric learning oppor­tu­ni­ties and builds rela­tion­ships with fac­ulty through the encour­age­ment of excel­lence in applied research in eco­nomics. It’s an outlet through which stu­dents can share their research with class­mates, pro­fes­sors and other stu­dents around the country.

Stu­dents are for­mi­dable minds,” senior eco­nomics major Franco Solleza, the journal’s editor-​​in-​​chief and cofounder, told some 50 stu­dents who attended the event. “ECON­Press allows them to explore eco­nomic prin­ci­pals beyond the scope of the syl­labus to create smart, insightful work.”

Sankey, who wants to work in the com­mer­cial space flight industry, says the expe­ri­en­tial learning oppor­tu­nity taught him to con­duct research in a more rig­orous manner and accept con­struc­tive crit­i­cism more willingly.

I’ve become better at cherry-​​picking the infor­ma­tion that I need out of other jour­nals,” he adds, noting that he read a number of books on space law in prepa­ra­tion for writing the paper for his Law and Eco­nomics class.

Roque wrote his paper for a directed study with eco­nomics pro­fessor Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at North­eastern. Sum sug­gested arti­cles to read and econ­o­mists to study.

Pro­fessor Sum led me the in right direc­tion,” says Roque, who con­cluded that poverty has shifted from urban to sub­urban areas over the past sev­eral decades. “The hardest part was the editing process. I was con­stantly reflecting on how to write the paper in a way that cap­tured what I discovered.”