• Nobel-winning economist Michael Kremer to join department faculty as University Professor

     

    Photo by Jon Chase/Harvard University

    Photo by Jon Chase/Harvard University

    Nobel Prize-winning economist Michael Kremer has been appointed University Professor at the University of Chicago and will join our department faculty.

    A pioneer in development economics who has shaped the discipline through the use of field experiments to inform economic models, policy and program development, Kremer shared the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel in 2019. He has been most recently at Harvard University, where he serves as the Gates Professor of Developing Societies in the Department of Economics.

    Kremer’s appointment at UChicago will be effective on Sept. 1. He also will hold a secondary appointment at the Harris School of Public Policy.

    “Michael is a scholar of extraordinary vision and accomplishment. His research has had an enormous influence on his field, and has been impactful in informing public policy in developing countries,” said Ka Yee C. Lee, provost and the David Lee Shillinglaw Distinguished Service Professor of Chemistry. “We are delighted to welcome Michael to the University of Chicago. The range of his research will undoubtedly lead to collaborations across divisions and schools.”

    University Professors are among those recruited at a senior level from outside the University, and are selected for internationally recognized eminence in their fields as well as for their potential for high impact across the University. Kremer will become the 23rd person to hold a University Professorship, and the 10th active faculty member holding that title.

    “The University of Chicago’s commitment to expanding research on development economics is an exceptional opportunity,” Kremer said. “The work ahead will develop new knowledge on ways to address global poverty and ultimately to do good for the world.

    Kremer was among the first economists to evaluate interventions in developing countries through randomized control trials. In 1998, he evaluated a project on deworming in Kenya. By comparing schools that had already been phased into treatment for intestinal worms with those that had not yet been phased into the program, he and his collaborators found that the program reduced student absenteeism by a quarter—and even reduced transmission of the disease to neighboring schools. Subsequent work also found that deworming had long-run impacts, leading to higher living standards 20 years later.

    “Michael’s research and its resulting policy impacts in economic development, health, education and technological innovation has been transformative at a global scale,” said Amanda Woodward, dean of the Division of the Social Sciences and the William S. Gray Distinguished Service Professor of Psychology. “We look forward to the next revolutionary phases of Michael’s work. He will be a foundational force for the future of Griffin Economics as well as for the broad community of economists at the University of Chicago.”

    Through the nonprofit organization Evidence Action and its private sector and government partners, Kremer’s work has now helped provide free deworming treatments to 280 million children. The World Health Organization recommends large-scale deworming as the most cost-effective way to improve children’s health and nutrition.

    “All of Michael’s work is grounded in theory and built around a coherent set of ideas interrogating what we can learn from economics,” said Rob Shimer, chair of the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics and the Alvin H. Baum Professor in Economics. “His extraordinary contributions to the field of economics and to improving human welfare are testament to the power of his methodological innovations.”

    In addition to that research, Kremer helped develop the advance market commitment, proposing the idea of a contract that would guarantee that if firms developed vaccines for diseases affecting the developing world meeting certain technological specifications, donors would help cover the cost of purchasing the product. Such commitments have stimulated private investment in vaccine research and the distribution of vaccines for diseases in the developing world. A $1.5 billion commitment by a consortium of donors led to the development and distribution of vaccines covering the strains of pneumococcal diseases common in the developing world, saving an estimated 700,000 lives.

    “Michael’s landmark work has not only advanced the field but has had enormous real-world impact,” said Katherine Baicker, dean and the Emmett Dedmon Professor at the Harris School of Public Policy. “His work has resulted in billions of dollars being devoted towards malaria and pneumococcal vaccines focused on the strains prevalent in developing countries. Few economists have saved so many lives around the world.”

    While changes in broad-scale government programs have long provided economists with natural experiments to inform their models, Kremer and his colleagues developed an iterative strategy that engages—and in some instances, founds—NGOs to deliver social programs that implement and test economic ideas. This approach can reveal the causal forces at play in economic systems, shedding light where observational data cannot. It also offers a proving ground for developing and perfecting effective policies and programs.

    At UChicago, Kremer will lead a new Development Innovation Lab, an initiative that will sit within the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics.

    “I am excited to join the University of Chicago, with its storied tradition of pioneering economics research,” Kremer said. “The new lab will use the tools of economics to develop innovations of practical use for developing countries. By bringing together experts in different fields and working closely with nonprofit organizations, firms and governments in the developing world, we can simultaneously advance knowledge and generate solutions to development challenges which can reach hundreds of millions of people.”

    “Michael’s work simultaneously pushes out the frontier of understanding and has had enormous and lasting impacts on people’s well-being,” said Michael Greenstone, director of the Becker Friedman Institute and the Milton Friedman Distinguished Service Professor in Economics. “He is the perfect person to lead the Development Innovation Lab at BFI, and I know he will catalyze the terrific development economics here into even greater heights, with the ultimate beneficiaries being the field of economics and the world.”

    Kremer is the author of more than 120 academic articles and book chapters. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a 1997 recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. He has won awards for his work on health economics, agricultural economics and on Latin America.

    Kremer earned his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1992. He was a visiting assistant professor at the University of Chicago in Spring Quarter 1993. Prior to his appointment at Harvard, he was a member of the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1993 to 1999.

    For more information, please see https://news.uchicago.edu/story/nobel-winning-economist-michael-kremer-join-uchicago-faculty-university-professor.

     

  • Victor Lima Receives Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award

    Victor Lima, Senior Instructional Professor of Economics, Receives Quantrell Award

    The transformative education that students experience at the University of Chicago begins with the teachers who inspire them.

    The University annually recognizes faculty for exceptional teaching and mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students through the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Awards, believed to be the nation’s oldest prize for undergraduate teaching; and the Faculty Awards for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring, which honor faculty for their work with graduate students. Victor Lima, Senior Instructional Professor of Economics, was one of this year's Quantrell Award recipients.

    For Victor Lima, teaching economic concepts can feel like “more of an art than a science.” That’s why the senior instructional professor designs courses that are a blend of tools and applications—combining theoretical frameworks with compelling real-life examples.

    His goal is to make sure that students not only understand the material, but can apply what they learn to their specific interests.

    “In my opinion, the power and flexibility of the economic approach are best illustrated with examples. If those examples appeal to students, then class discussion will be fascinating,” said Lima, who is co-director of undergraduate studies and master’s programs for the Department of Economics.

    “In my opinion, the power and flexibility of the economic approach are best illustrated with examples. If those examples appeal to students, then class discussion will be fascinating.”

    Man with glasses in red plaid shirt standing in front of bookcase, smilingIn a nomination letter, one student wrote about how Lima’s open-ended prompts sparked heated debates with friends over dinner. They also described how Lima pushed the class to engage with economics more broadly—to think about the discipline’s fundamental insights, along with its strengths and shortcomings as part of a larger intellectual landscape.

    Lima also prioritizes research structure as part of his teaching, showing students how a consistent framework can be used to test behavioral observations across a range of human activity. By starting students on the road to critical economic thinking, Lima hopes to foster the analytical skills that will serve them well regardless of their postgraduate paths.

    “I believe that all jobs are ‘research jobs,’” Lima said. “A thorough understanding of the economic approach, and the ability to apply it broadly, will be invaluable to our students’ future success.”

    Lima teaches the first course that many Economics majors take, "Elements of Economic Analysis I." He also laid the foundation for the largest major on the UChicago campus, which accounts for more than one quarter of all declared majors. He helped create and leads both the MAPSS- and MACSS-Econ courses, which have experienced unprecedented growth since their inception. 

    Read the original article and award announcement, as well as read more about other award recipients, at news.uchicago.edu

    Photo of Victor Lima by Jason Smith.

     

  • Nancy L. Stokey to Receive CME Group-MSRI Prize and Medal

    This article originally appeared on and is available at www.msri.org.

    2021 CME Group-MSRI Prize Announced, to be Awarded May 16

    "The 15th annual CME Group-MSRI Prize in Innovative Quantitative Applications will be awarded to Nancy L. Stokey. The award announcement and seminar will be held on May 16, 2022 at the CME Group in Chicago, IL.

    The CME Group-MSRI Prize is awarded to an individual or a group to recognize originality and innovation in the use of mathematical, statistical or computational methods for the study of the behavior of markets, and more broadly of economics.

    About Nancy L. Stokey

    Portrait of woman in grey blazerNancy L. Stokey is the Frederick Henry Prince Distinguished Service Professor of Economics, University of Chicago.  Stokey is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the Econometric Society, a Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association, and the 2021 President of the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory.  She has served as co-editor of Econometrica and of The Journal of Political Economy, and as vice-President of the American Economic Association.

    Stokey is co-author of the influential monograph Recursive Methods in Economic Dynamics (1989), which has provided the mathematical basis for much of modern macroeconomics. She is also co-developer of a model of dynamic taxation and debt policy that has served as the foundation for much subsequent work in that area, and she is author of The Economics of Inaction (2009), which treats models that involve fixed costs of adjustment.

    Stokey has also contributed to various areas of microeconomics, with the first rigorous proof of the famous Coase conjecture, and as co-developer of the No-Trade theorem, a result that presents a fundamental puzzle about information, stock market prices, and the volume of trading.

    Stokey’s recent work has focused on economic growth and development, especially on the role of trade and technology transfers in accelerating growth in middle-income countries."

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