Raphael Lorenzo David
Hometown: Merrick, New York, United States
Graduation date: Spring 2022
GCSP research stipend | Spring 2022
Optimizing Vendor Mix at the Downtown Phoenix Farmers Market
Farmers markets (FMs) serve an important role in local food economies. FMs are multi-scalar operations that involve a number of decision-makers: farmers, market managers, and local residents. FMs provide economic benefits to individual farmers, as they serve as a marketplace where local and regional growers and producers can sell products to customers, yet, unlike traditional retailers who have devoted merchandising managers, FMs are constrained by a lack of operational efficiencies that would allow FMs to effectively mimic this marketing strategy to increase profitability. The purpose of this study is to assess how FM managers can optimize sales revenue at their markets and expand market reach to increase traffic to their markets. We assemble a revenue history from market vendors for the years 2016-2019 and perform a portfolio optimization problem.
Mentor: Lauren Chenarides
Featured project | Spring 2022
Industrial engineering senior Raphael David explored how the financial models used by stock market managers could help optimize the revenue of farmers markets in Phoenix. He conducted this work in an interdisciplinary project with Lauren Chenarides, an assistant professor at the Morrison School of Agribusiness in the W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU, as part of the Grand Challenges Scholars Program.
What made you want to get involved in GCSP and why did you choose the project you’re working on?
I joined GCSP through an invitation as a freshman. I was excited to work on interdisciplinary projects that could be of use to a large group of people. I chose to study the profitability of farmers markets through the guidance of my faculty mentor, Dr. Lauren Chenarides, who had this project in mind and needed a student to carry out the technical analysis and data collection.
How will your research project impact the world?
Farmers markets are important because they are the link between small farmers and their communities. Many farmers markets today are failing because they struggle to make enough profits to pay for things such as rent. By helping farmers markets thrive, we are giving small farmers a chance to compete with big retailers.
What has been your most memorable experience as a student researcher?
My most memorable moment was finally getting the portfolio model to work and seeing the true efficient combination of vendors that would help maximize profits at the farmers market.
Have there been any surprises in your research?
One farmers market we studied was extremely inefficient in optimizing its revenue. I have been working on this project since I was a freshman, and this year I saw the market have to relocate because they could not afford rent. This makes my research even more meaningful because I can help them plan better for their new location.
How do you see this experience helping with your career?
GCSP has enabled me to think more broadly about my career options. Next semester I will be doing my master’s degree in Spain studying data science at Carlos III University.
What is the best advice you’ve gotten from your faculty mentor?
Just keep writing.
What advice you do have for other students?
Take every opportunity you can get because you don’t know where it will lead you.