• 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.

     

  • First Annual Women in Economics Distinguished Speaker Panel Hosted by Undergraduate Students in Economics

    First Annual Women in Economics Distinguished Speaker Panel Hosted by Undergraduate Students in Economics

    Students in the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics hosted the first “Women in Economics Distinguished Speaker Panel” on November 12, 2022.

    The panel consisted of four leading professional women in economics, including: Dr. Kristin Butcher, Vice President and Director of Microeconomic Research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; Marie Winters, one of Crain’s Notable Women in Finance and the former Senior Vice President & Co-Head of Corporate Fixed Income Research at Northern Trust Asset Management; Lisa Emerick, Vice President, Chief Marketing and Engagement Officer at The Economic Club of Chicago, an early-stage investor, and member of the Chicago Network; and Dr. Gina Pieters, Assistant Instructional Professor at the University of Chicago and an honorary non-visiting Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance.

    Students in the department, Eva Haque and Alejandra Hardin, moderated questions and the discussion with panelists. Discussion centered around the speakers’ backgrounds and experiences, their academic and career journeys, and their perspectives as women in their respective fields.

    Conference room with four female panelists, sitting in lounge chairs

    Pictured from left to right: Event organizer Alejandra Hardin, Marie Winters, Dr. Kristin Butcher, Lisa Emerick, Gina Pieters, and event organizer Eva Haque participate in a Panel Discussion in Saieh Hall. 

    This event was the first in-person convening of Undergraduate Women in Economics following its founding five years ago, prior to the pandemic. While the target audience was young undergraduate women interested in the fields of economics, business, and finance, invitations were also extended to all economics students in the college and graduate schools. Gina Pieters connected student organizers with speakers to help plan the event.

    According to Haque, “This event was not only very informational but incredibly inspirational and uplifting. As undergraduates we received strong professional and personal advice from women at the top of several sectors within economics and finance, who created a welcoming and motivating environment to ask honest questions and discuss difficult subjects such as discrimination.”

    This event was not only very informational but incredibly inspirational and uplifting. As undergraduates we received strong professional and personal advice from women at the top of several sectors within economics and finance, who created a welcoming and motivating environment to ask honest questions and discuss difficult subjects such as discrimination.

    The goal of the event was that students “walked away with a better understanding of careers in research, academia, and the private sector, gained academic clarity, and attained a feeling of empowerment.” The field of economics has a known gender disparity, also reflected in the economic faculty and programs at UChicago. The Women in Economics Recognized Student Organization aims to bridge this gap and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the academic and professional world.

    While the department has organized a “Women in Economics” event for graduate students and faculty in the past, this event was the first of its kind in the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics organized by and for students, and the aim is to continue the panel speaker series moving forward.

    Haque and Hardin shared, “We would like to express our appreciation for the lovely professional women who joined our event to speak to us and the students who came prepared with curiosity and admiration.”

     

  • 2022 Student and Faculty Award Recipients

    2022 Student and Faculty Award Recipients

    The Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics is proud to announce this year’s recipients of the Martin and Margaret Lee Prizes and Graduate Student Teaching awards, as well as the winners of the Yiran Fan Memorial Prize and the George S. Tolley Prize. 

    In 2022, students also awarded Teaching Awards to three faculty members. 

    LEE PRIZE AWARD WINNERS

    Highest Score Earned on the Price Theory Core Exam - Pictured from left to right: Lewei He and Zizhe Xia 

    George S. Tolley Prize 2021 (4)_0.png

    Highest Score Earned on the Theory of Income Core Exam - Pictured from left to right: Lewei He, Zizhe Xia and Judy Yue

    George S. Tolley Prize 2021 (5).png

    Highest Score Earned on the Quantitative Methods Core Exam: Ian Pitman

    George S. Tolley Prize 2021 (6).png


    GRADUATE STUDENT TEACHING AWARD WINNERS

    Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award - Mateusz Stalinski and Sidharth Sah

    George S. Tolley Prize 2021 (8).png


    Yiran Fan Memorial Prize

    William Cassidy and Aditya Chaudhry

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    George S. Tolley Prize

    Thomas Hierons and Jordan Rosenthal-Kay

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    Faculty Teaching Awards

    Excellence of Teaching in Core Classes - Lars Stole

    Excellence in Research Mentorship - Michael Dinerstein

    Teaching Excellence in the Second Year - Alex Torgovitsky

    George S. Tolley Prize 2021 (13).png

     

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