• Robert A. Mundell, Former Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and “Father of the Euro,” 1932-2021

    Robert A. Mundell, a Nobel Laureate and former Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, died April 4, 2021 in Siena, Italy. Mundell was a Canadian economist and most recently Professor of Economics at Columbia University in New York.  

    Mundell’s research focused largely on the economic theory of international economics and he was known as the “father of the theory of optimum currency areas.” His theories contributed to the adoption of the euro as the currency of the European Union. In 1999, Mundell received the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel "for his analysis of monetary and fiscal policy under different exchange rate regimes and his analysis of optimum currency areas" (Robert A. Mundell - Facts). 

    Mundell received his Ph.D. from MIT and taught at Stanford University, as well as The Johns Hopkins University SAIS Bologna Center. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago in 1956 and a Professor of Economics at the University from 1966 to 1971. His disagreements with Milton Friedman on several policy issues are notable. Mundell was also the Editor of the Journal of Political Economy while at the University. In 1974, Mundell joined the faculty at Columbia University.

    To learn more about Robert A. Mundell’s research, publications, and contributions, visit his personal website


    Robert A. Mundell – Facts. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2021. Mon. 12 Apr 2021. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/economic-sciences/1999/mundell/facts/>.

  • Ufuk Akcigit Awarded a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship

    Ufuk Akcigit, the Arnold C. Harberger Professor in Economics and the College, Director of Graduate Studies, and Director of Graduate Placement in the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics was awarded a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship. Akcigit was one of four University of Chicago scholars to receive the award this year and one of 184 fellows selected among 3,000 applicants.

    Guggenheim Fellowships have been awarded since 1925 to scholars on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise. Akcigit’s research focuses include macroeconomics, economic growth, firm dynamics, innovation, and entrepreneurship. 

    The below information regarding Ufuk Akcigit’s research can also be found in the original article published at news.uchicago.edu.

    He is a leader in the study of innovation and its role in economic growth. By recruiting microlevel data to inform macroeconomic models, his work unites traditionally separate approaches in the field. By combining macroeconomic and microeconomic perspectives, he has produced research cited by numerous reports, including those issued by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the administration of President Barack Obama.

    His Guggenheim Fellowship will support research into understanding various layers that connect innovation policies to economic growth. In particular, he will seek to understand how societies can utilize their talent pool more effectively, and produce more scientists and inventors through better education and innovation policies.

    “I am planning to interrogate even the basic assumptions undergirding economic policy,” Akcigit said. “Challenging such conventions will pave the way for stronger data-driven policy.

    Akcigit’s contributions to scholarship and policy have been recognized by a number of prestigious awards, including a National Science Foundation Career Award, the Asaf Savas Akat Economics Prize, and the Kiel Institute Excellence Award in Global Economic Affairs.

    He was also awarded the 2019 Max Planck-Humboldt Research Award, which is providing 1.5 million euros ($1.78 million) of research funding over five years. Akcigit is using the funds to investigate how and why eastern Germany continues to lag behind its western counterpart, even three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

    Find the full list of Guggenheim Fellowship recipients here: https://www.gf.org/announcement-2021/.

  • Luncheon Highlights the Importance of Accessibility to Professional Development for Women in Economics

    On Monday, March 15, women in the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics met virtually for the annual Econ Women’s Luncheon. Over 40 PhD students, alumna, postdoctoral researchers, faculty members, and other academic personnel attended the event which took place during Women’s History Month.  

    The event, hosted on Zoom and moderated by Assistant Professor Manasi Deshpande, featured breakout room sessions led by female faculty members. Session topics included: The Private Sector, Academic Job Market, Classes to Research, Collaboration, Inside Out, Teaching, and Work/Family/Mental Health.

    Deshpande’s hope through the event was to provide resources for “women in economics to develop networks through which they can exchange professional development advice and support for their research and well-being.” She explained that networks for women in economics tend to be denser, with fewer connections than networks for men in economics.

    The Private Sector – Led by Elisa Olivieri and Michele Carter

    This session, led by Elisa Olivieri, Senior Manager at Cornerstone Research Firm, and Michele Carter, Associate at Cornerstone Research Firm, examined the key differences between a career in the private sector and a career in academia. Olivieri explained that one of the primary differences is that academia is more of a “solitary endeavor motivated by one’s own agenda,” while a career in the private sector consists largely of delivering resources to clients in a team-based structure. They stressed the importance of professional development for those hoping to pursue a career in the private sector and encouraged focusing on honing leadership skills, as well as understanding the differences in gender experiences as they relate to work culture.

    Teaching – Led by Gina Pieters

    Assistant Instructional Professor Gina Pieters led a session on Teaching— a relevant topic for any economist hoping to pursue a career in academia. She spoke about the academic job market and the differences between teaching at Liberal Arts institutions, versus research institutions according to her own experiences. For example, in reference to her experience at the University of Chicago, she stated, “If you’re coming to UChicago, it’s 99 percent research, and one percent teaching. At other institutions, it’s 60 percent teaching, 40 percent research. You must hit the ground running in Liberal Arts.” Pieters also mentioned the importance of longevity in teaching positions, and of understanding the functional and instructional differences among universities.

    Academic Job Market – Led by Christina Brown and Claudia Allende

    Christina Brown, recently hired Assistant Professor, co-led the Academic Job Market session and walked attendees through tailoring their applications to the positions they hoped to secure. Claudia Allende, Saieh Family Fellow in Economics at the Becker Friedman Institute, also co-led the session and said of the process of applying in the academic job market, “It’s a tough experience and very tiring, but can be very positive. It’s important to have a good relationship with advisors and friends… It’s a process you only go through one or two times in your life. You are a better economist after you go through the job market.”

    Classes to Research – Led by Nancy Stokey, Neele Balke, and Julie Pernaudet

    Nancy Stokey, The Frederick Henry Prince Distinguished Service Professor of Economics, co-led the Classes to Research session. She mentioned the importance of exploring and choosing research topics saying, “Talk to a lot of people: Talk to your peers, talk to your faculty. You can’t start too early to think of research topics you would want to investigate. Pick something that’s really interesting to you.” Senior Research Associate, Neele Balke, reminded attendees that coursework can lay a foundation for understanding, but “doing coursework is different than going out by yourself and doing research.”

    Collaboration  - Led by Juanna Joensen and Susanne Neckermann

    Senior Research Associate, Juanna Joensen, co-led sessions focused on collaboration and shared, “Collaborations are so incredibly important, because they can have an immense impact on your academic career and on your quality of life more generally.  A productive collaboration will improve your research by fostering and sharpening your ideas. On the other hand, the most unproductive collaborations can have serious negative consequences for your career trajectory and your quality of life… most of the important ingredients of productive collaborations are the same as those of successful relationships in life.” More specific to women in economics, Joensen noted,

    “Most, if not all, information we discussed during our sessions today is equally useful for men and women. However, it is probably not as readily available to women as they are a minority in the economics profession and their academic networks may be more sparse. Networks are extremely important in the economics profession, and unfortunately tend to be quite gendered. Therefore, it is especially important that junior women can start forming networks such that they get easier access to collaborations and useful information more generally.

    Inside Out – Led by Manasi Deshpande and Alessandra González

    Deshpande also led the session “Inside, Out” and discussed the paper writing and publication process which can be “long, arduous, and mysterious, especially for new researchers.” She shared, “I wanted to help demystify the process and give students the tools they need to navigate it.”

    She also mentioned the importance of sharing reference reports with those who are more experienced, “Make sure you’re getting as much advice as you can as you’re making decisions,” Deshpande explained.

    Work/Family/Mental Health – Led by Susanne Neckermann and Alessandra González

    In addition to co-leading the session on collaboration, Senior Research Associate, Susanne Neckermann, also co-led and initiated a session on mental health. She explained, “I think it is important to discuss these matters, give room for students to voice their mental health concerns and validate the legitimacy of those concerns as well as offer resources. I think this is important always during graduate school but, in particular, now during COVID.” Neckermann also reinforced the importance of the event as a whole, “Women are still under-represented in the profession. I think this brings with it some insecurities that individuals might not feel comfortable voicing outside of a protected environment. I feel like a women’s lunch can help with creating an atmosphere of trust and support.”

    Alessandra González, Senior Research Associate in the department, mentioned the importance of mental health in the field, “You can’t underestimate that this [the Ph.D. program] needs emotional work on the side.” She shared her experience as the first female graduate of her Ph.D. program due to the many women before her who dropped out of the program. To women at the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics, González encouraged: “We want you to succeed.”

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