Alumni notes highlights, Nobel Laureates, and more

November 2018 News from Berkeley Economics

Dear Friends of Berkeley Economics, 

Welcome to our new and updated Econ Exchange newsletter. I am excited to write to you at a moment of palpable momentum in the department. Our enrollment has increased to record highs (just above 1300 majors) and we have been pleased this year to welcome two new faculty members- more on Emi Nakamura and Jón Steinsson in this newsletter.

In writing at this moment, I must also note the grave events that have been very much on our minds in recent weeks. We are deeply saddened by the tragedy caused by the California fires to the north. They have cost dozens of human lives, displaced thousands of families, and erased whole communities. Not only have these events occurred in nearby physical proximity – and, indeed, touched us through several days of cancelled classes due to smoky air – but numerous faculty, students, and alumni of Berkeley Economics have been touched by them in more direct ways.

These events bear mentioning because ultimately Berkeley Economics is a community, and one that remains cognizant of a world beyond the walls of the university. As professors and students work together, we also try to look after one another and stay aware of each other's cares and concerns. Through their groundbreaking research, our faculty continues to create meaningful conversations that not only reach across fields and disciplines but that often enable policymakers, industry leaders, and entrepreneurs to make better-informed decisions affecting millions of people's everyday lives. These are among the reasons that I am so honored to serve again as chair. Let me take the opportunity as well to thank my colleague and former chair Jim Powell for his able service as my predecessor. Please read on to hear more about the work of our faculty and other highlights and recent news in the department.

These past weeks we’ve been reading through notes from our alumni both near and far. It was heart-warming to hear from over 80 of them, whose graduations go back as far as 1956! From Hong Kong to Luxemburg (and, of course, with a strong cohort right here in the Bay area), we heard from an eclectic group of alumni making a difference in wide-ranging industries. They are educators, authors, business analysts, engineers, nonprofit professionals and so much more. I hope you’ll take a moment to explore the paths they have chosen by reading some of the class notes. If you haven’t yet, you can still submit your class note. We are also thankful to Elena Sanina ’10 for sending in a note that resulted in an interview, partly discussing the impact Berkeley Economics has had on her career trajectory.

This year, we are thrilled to welcome two new full professors to our department, Emi Nakamura and Jón Steinsson, whom we successfully lured from Columbia.  You can read about their collaborative research in our Q&A with the award-winning couple, whose work focuses on the effects of monetary and fiscal policy and macroeconomic measurement.

We are lucky to have incredible talent here at Evans Hall, both faculty members and promising Ph.D. students. On September 28-29, many of them collaborated to share best practices on diversity and inclusion with 130 participants in the first graduate summit for diversity held at UC Berkeley. Thank you, Co-presidents Emily Eisner and Nina Roussille, for your hard work on this timely topic!  Read about the impact of the summit in the WEB blog.

Speaking of incredible talent, we were delighted (but not surprised) to learn that our former faculty colleague Paul Romer has won the Nobel Prize in Economics. A special thanks to Professor Maurice Kugler, who was a student of Paul’s while pursuing his Ph.D. at Berkeley, for his insightful article shedding light on Professor Romer’s many achievements, including his contributions while at Berkeley.

In this newsletter, we also say our goodbyes to our talented undergraduate advisors and colleagues, Khia Brunelle and Antoine Davis, who worked in the Department for several years and have now both accepted promotions within UC Berkeley. Best of luck to Khia and Antoine, and thank you for all of your contributions to the Department! We will update and introduce you to our new advising team in our spring newsletter. 

I’m sure you will also read with great interest our Q&A with Troy Paredes ’92. Paredes is former Commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission under President Obama, and an expert consultant on financial regulation, corporate governance and more.

Troy was the first member to join our Charter Hill Society in Economics (CHSE), a network of donors who help sustain the Department’s annual and leadership funds through a three-year pledge. Thank you, Troy, and all Charter Hill Society members, for your generous support! As state and centralized funding for the Department has been cut significantly, we are doing more with less. To maintain the quality of our work and support the academic experience of our students, I encourage you to learn more about how to join CHSE by contacting Assistant Dean Christian Gordon.

Thank you for reading. Go Bears and Fiat Lux!

Alan Auerbach, Chair 

A link to past Econ Newsletter.

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