Dear Friends of Berkeley Economics,
On behalf of our department’s faculty and leadership, welcome to the 2019-20 academic year. Joining me in stewarding our department this year are Professors Emi Nakamura and Jón Steinsson (sharing the vice-chair position), Martha Olney (undergraduate program chair), Andrés Rodríguez-Clare (graduate program chair), Shachar Kariv (development chair), and Ted Miguel (development committee). Each gives a significant amount of their time to support our programs and our students.
More broadly, I am grateful for the remarkable research, teaching, and service that our faculty contributed this past year (please revisit our past newsletters to read about major prizes awarded to Emi Nakamura, Gabriel Zucman, Yuriy Gorodnichenko, and more). Alumni engagement and support has played a critical role in these contributions, and continues to have a direct and tangible impact on our work.
This past year, the department maintained its momentum in attracting the best economists in the world by hiring two new assistant professors who will join us in 2020:
Ellora Derenoncourt earned her PhD in Economics from Harvard. She is currently a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University. Her research investigates such issues as the impact of the “Great Migration” on upward mobility and the effects of a higher minimum wage on racial inequality.
Vira Semenova earned her PhD in Economics and Statistics from MIT, where she wrote her doctoral thesis on Econometrics and Machine Learning. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Economics at Harvard University. Her research lies at the intersection of econometrics and machine learning.
In addition, Sydnee Caldwell, a labor economist—and a proud member of the Cal class of 2012—who recently earned her PhD in Economics from MIT, will also be joining the faculty in 2020. Although her main appointment will be in the Haas School of Business, her position is joint with the Economics department.
Graduate students continue to be an integral part of our community. Our entering cohort is an enormously talented group; we are very excited about each of one of them. I am also proud to report that for the first time in our history, the entering class includes equal numbers of women and men. We view this as one more step in our ongoing work toward more equitable treatment of women in economics. Our students have been an active voice in this movement, from Alice Wu’s senior thesis to the first graduate-led summit on Diversity in Economics in 2018.
I would like to thank all of our alumni and friends who made a special gift this past year to support graduate fellowships. With your help, we continue to attract the brightest talent in the field. Thank you! We appreciate every single gift and each one makes a difference. Please consider making a gift today. Your support equips our faculty with vital resources and eases the financial pressure on our graduate students and undergraduates.
In this newsletter, you will find more news from the department. In particular, I hope you’ll read the interview by Ph.D. candidate Isabelle Cohen with Professor Ted Miguel on the publication of his newly co-authored book, Transparent and Reproducible Social Science Research: How to Do Open Science. Their conversation explores major questions today in research methodology and their implications for paper publication and policy outcomes.
Please submit your news for our alumni notes page, which we will feature in the next newsletter. You can read here the notes submitted this past year by our alumni. My colleagues and I enjoy hearing from our former students, and we look forward to hearing how you are contributing to your communities in the U.S. and around the world.
As I begin my year as chair, my main goal is to continue to build on our past successes and further the research and teaching missions of the department. Two places where I particularly hope to contribute are in making our outstanding undergraduate program even better, and in making progress on the important issues surrounding climate, equity, diversity, and inclusion that are facing the field of economics and our community more broadly. This work is only made possible with your support.
Thank you, and Go Bears!
Herman Royer Professor of Political Economy; Department Chair
A link to past Econ Newsletter.