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News: Academic Year 2015-16

Joel Mokyr Elected to the British Academy

Professor Joel Mokyr was elected a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy in July 2016. The British Academy elects leading national and international academics for their distinction in the humanities and social sciences.

2016 Graduation Lunch and Award Winners

At its annual graduation luncheon for senior Economics majors and their families, the Department of Economics honored students with outstanding achievements in economics.  On behalf of all faculty and staff, we heartily congratulate the following graduates:

Departmental Honors:
Emily Berson, James Bien, Jonathan Blake, Shih-Yung Huang, Nick Jacobson, Camille Liu, Lu Lu, Jonathan Merber, Hallie Miller, Andrew Niederschulte, Martin Ying, Yuki Zou

Robert Eisner Award for Undergraduate Research:
James Bien

Frederick S. Deibler Award for Distinguished Honors Thesis:
Jonathan Blake, Jonathan Merber

Frederick S. Deibler Award for Excellence in Economics:
Jonathan Blake, Grace Kong, Lu Lu, Nandini Mehta, Stacy Ni, Michael Perugini, Mohan Ravi, Joel Schocker

Professor Gordon and Mokyr Debate the Future of Economic Growth

Professors Robert Gordon and Joel Mokyr debated the future of economic growth on April 26, 2016 at an event sponsored by the Northwestern University Political Union.  The event was prompted by Professor Gordon's recent book The Rise and Fall of American Growth which asserts that the greatest years of technological innovation are over.  You can read the Northwestern press release describing the event.

Ben Bernanke Draws a Large Crowd to the Bies Lecture    

Ben S. Bernanke, the former Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (2006-2014), drew a large crowd of faculty and students to the Susan Bies Lecture on Economics and Public Policy on April 25, 2016.  For more than an hour he had a wide-ranging conversation with Kellogg School of Managment Professor Janice Eberly on the financial crisis of 2008 and the role of the Federal Reserve System.  Press coverage of the event was provided by the Daily Northwestern and the Chicago Tribune.

Kirabo Jackson Awarded Carnegie Fellowship

Professor Kirabo Jackson, a faculty member in the School of Education and Social Policy, has been named a 2016 Andrew Carnegie Fellow, based on his outstanding scholarship and proposed research on “Identifying Excellent Teachers.” The Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program provides the most prestigious and generous fellowships to advance research in the social sciences and humanities.  Professor Jackson's research as a Carnegie Fellow will provide evidence on "how to better identify high-quality teachers that improve the broad set of skills students need to succeed into adulthood." He will be looking at both cognitive and "soft" skills as he examines questions such as how much teachers improve a broad set of skills required for adult success, how to identify excellent teachers, and what are the long-range adult outcomes of having a teacher who improved soft skills.

Igal Hendel awarded Econometric Society's 2016 Frisch Medal

Professor Igal Hendel along with co-authors Ben Handel (an alumnus of our graduate program) and former faculty member Michael Whinston have been awarded the Econometric Society's Frisch Medal.   The Frisch Medal is awarded every two years for the best applied article published in the journal Econometrica during the previous five years.   Their paper "Equilibria in Health Exchanges: Adverse Selection versus Reclassification Risk" was cited by the selection committee as "offering an excellent model for understanding the key issues and tradeoffs in health insurance. It combines first rate theory with outstanding empirical analysis to consider the tradeoffs between reducing adverse selection by pricing insurance contracts according to individual health characteristics, versus the welfare effects of health reclassification risk. By introducing an appropriate equilibrium concept in the presence of dynamics, it establishes existence of equilibria in the presence of adverse selection. The paper uses top-quality data combined with a change in policy of the employer to identify risk preferences separately from the tendency of individuals to remain with their existing contract (inertia). Using the estimates they then provide counterfactual simulations and they show that the welfare effects of reclassification risk far exceed any gains from reducing the costs due to adverse selection. At a time when issues of design of health insurance are at the top of the policy agenda this paper offers a framework that allows us to analyze the questions with the rigor of theory and empirical work with excellent data, fully reflecting the spirit of the Frisch prize."

Sir Richard Blundell Announced as 2016 Nemmers Prize Winner

Northwestern University is pleased to announce the awarding of the 2016 Erwin Plein Nemmers Prize in Economics to Sir Richard Blundell. Sir Richard is the David Ricardo Professor of Political Economy at University College London and the research director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies in the United Kingsom. The award was made "based on his important contributions to labor economics, public finance and applied econometrics."  The biennial honor is bestowed on an outstanding economist who has yet to win the Nobel Prize. Professor Blundell is scheduled to visit Northwestern during the Spring Quarter of 2017 and the Fall Quarter of 2018.  The winner of the 2014 Nemmers Prize Jean Tirole of the Toulouse School of Economics will be making his second visit to campus in September and October 2016.
Read the formal announcement, and his biographical information.

Laura Doval and Arlene Wong invited on Review of Economic Studies Tour

Laura Doval and Arlene Wong, both final year PhD students, are among the eight most promising graduating doctoral students in economics and finance in the world who have been selected to present their research to audiences in Europe.  This annual tour is organized by the journal The Review of Economic Studies.  The students will present their work at three universities across Europe in May.  At each stop on the tour, standard seminar presentations are given over two days to audiences invited by the local hosts and which include members of the journal’s editorial board.

Mar Reguant Awarded Sloan Fellowship

Professor Mar Reguant has been awarded a Sloan Research Fellowship for 2016 from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Her works is in the area of industrial organization, with a focus on energy and environmental markets. Her research uses high-frequency data to study the impact of auction design and environmental regulation on electricity markets and to quantify the impact of carbon trading on energy-intensive industries.

The Sloan Research Fellowships have been awarded annually since 1955, and are awarded in eight scientific and technical fields: chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences and physics. Potential fellows must be nominated for recognition by their peers and subsequently are selected by an independent panel of senior scholars.

College Federal Reserve Challenge

On November 18, 2015, Northwestern University won the Regional College Federal Reserve Challenge at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago over top schools from around the midwest. The competition involved two rounds, where in each the team had to present a discussion of about the state of the economy and proposing Federal Reserve responses to it, and then taking questions from a panel of Federal Reserve economists. The University of Chicago finished in second place.

The team members were:

  • Zachary Herron, sophomore, from Port Washington, New York, majoring in Economics/Mathematics/Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences
  • Olyvia Chinchilla, sophomore, from Glen Ellyn, Illinois, majoring in Economics with minors in Political Science & Slavic Studies, a member of Northwestern Naval ROTC.
  • Burkett Evans, junior, from Cincinnati, Ohio, majoring in Economics and Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences
  • Spencer Oh, junior, from Ames, Iowa, majoring in Economics/Mathematics/Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences, and doing the Kellogg Financial Economics Certificate
  • Edwin Wu, junior, from Madison, Wisconsin, majoring in Economics, Mathematics, and Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences, minor in Computer Sciences, and Kellogg Financial Economics Certificate
  • The team’s presentation and data were prepared with the help of research assistants Megan Angell, Pranav Dhingra, Jered Everson, Saloni Singhvi, and Jae Ho Yang.
  • Mark Witte was the faculty adviser to the team.

Northwestern’s team traveled to compete for the national championship at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington, DC on December 2nd, 2015 against Princeton University, Bentley College, the University of Pennsylvania, and Pace University.  The national competition was won by Pace University with the Northwestern team receiving an "Honorable Mention."

Distinguished Teaching Assistants Honored

The Department's Distinguished Teaching Assistant Awards for 2014-15 were presented in October 2015. The winners are: Titan Alon, Arjada Bardhi, Germán Bet, Luca Bittarello, Gideon Bornstein, Matias Escudero, Andreas Kropf, Chiara Maggi, Alexey Makarin, Paul Mohnen, Aniket Panjwani, Christopher Romeo, Felipe Shalders, Yi Sun, Max Tabord-Meehan and Nicholas Vreugdenhil. These awards are given to the top third of our Teaching Assistants, based on student and faculty evaluations.

Robert Eisner Memorial Fellowships

In October 2015, fellowships in honor of our late colleague Robert Eisner were presented. For 2015-16 the Fellowships were awarded to (left to right) Daniel Fershtman, Mariano Irace and Titan Alon.  The winners are pictured with Mrs. Edith Eisner.  The fellowships are awarded annually to graduate students who have distinguished themselves in both teaching and research.

Susan Bies Research Prizes

The annual Susan Schmidt Bies Prizes for Doctoral Student Research on Economics and Public Policy were awarded in October 2015. The awards are given to the best public policy papers presented as part of the Economics 501 Graduate Student seminar. The winners for 2014-15 were (from left to right) Janjala Chirakijja for a paper on  “The impact of tourism on economic development of household welfare: evidence from Thailand,” Paul Mohnen for “The impact of the aging age force on the U.S. youth labor market,” and Enrico Berkes for “Local corruption and (mis)reported income: evidence from the Earned Income Tax Credit.” The prizes were generously donated by alumna Susan Schmidt Bies (PhD, 1972). Her professional career included serving on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

Faculty Honor Roll

Professors James Hornsten, Lee Lockwood and Eric Schulz were chosen for the 2014-15 Faculty Honor Roll award organized by the Associated Student Government. 

Students nominated professors that go above and beyond expectations, and the winners were selected from the list of nominations as faculty members who are truly exceptional.

Joel Mokyr Awarded Balzan Prize

In September 2015, Professor Joel Mokyr was awarded the Balzan Prize. He was recognized for "his pioneering connection of economics and history ... permitting a new, comparative view of economic development and industrialization particularly in the West" and for "the variety of content, themes, and methods of his work, which ranges from the cliometrics of the New Economic History to the qualitative interpretation of ground-breaking texts.”  The International E. Balzan Prize Foundation aims to promote culture and science in the cause of humanity, peace, and fraternity among peoples throughout the world.

New Faculty

In September 2015 the Department welcomed four new faculty members.  Luigi Bocola was hired as an assistant professor last year, but took a post-doctoral year at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. He is a macroeconomist with a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.

Sara Hernández, a development economist who also works on the economics of the family has joined the department as an Assistant Professor of Instruction. She completed her PhD at MIT.

Martí Mestieri is fourth-year Assistant Professor and joins us from the Toulouse School of Economics. His research focuses on understanding the effects of technology and human capital on economic outcomes at the aggregate level, with special focus on economic growth and inequality.

Mar Reguant is a fourth-year Assistant Professor who was previously at the business school at Stanford University. She works in the area of industrial organization with a focus on energy and electricity markets.