Last week’s Around the O newsletter’s featured news story, “Climate skeptics are not easily persuaded, UO study shows” highlighted research by our own Assistant Professor Grant McDermott. According to the article,
The central question posed by the quantitative study published in the journal Climate Change was, “How much evidence would it take to convince skeptics that they are wrong?” The answer depended on the degree of skepticism.
“The actions of others may often seem irrational to us, and vice versa, but it’s important to recognize that a person’s actions are, more than likely, perfectly congruent with their internal belief system,” McDermott said. “Acknowledging that is an important first step towards crafting effective public policy.”
Check out the full article on the Around the O website.
The Department of Economics mourns the loss of our long-time colleague, Professor Emeritus Ed Whitelaw. Ed passed away on April 27 at the age of 80.
Ed received his Ph.D. from MIT and joined the faculty of the UO Economics Department in 1967. Although he technically retired from his position as a full-time faculty member in 2000, he continued to teach one to two classes for the Department every year until 2019. Over the course of his UO career, Ed shaped and trained literally thousands of minds through a combination of award-winning instruction and peerless professional mentorship. He founded ECONorthwest in 1974, an organization that would ultimately grow into the largest economic consulting firm in the Pacific Northwest. The impact of ECONorthwest on developing and launching careers for both UO and non-UO students is difficult to overstate. Indeed, it is notable that the two most recent Department Heads in the Economics Department were both alumni of ECONorthwest before completing their graduate degrees in economics. More recently, he founded the consulting group FION, an acronym for one of Ed’s often repeated sayings – “Figure it out Now!” Ed continued to have an impact on UO economics majors long into his retirement from the department both through his annual teaching of UO courses in urban and regional economics (including a popular course of his own design on the economics of the Pacific Northwest) and employing UO students at both ECONorthwest and FION.
Ed’s cumulative impact on former UO students was on full display at an April 2019 alumni event hosted by the Department of Economics. At this event, nearly forty former students and professional colleagues from across the continent returned to Eugene to join in a celebration of Ed’s storied career. The activities included a series of panel discussions that provided sage advice to economics majors, undergraduate and graduate alike. The day culminated with a dinner/toast/roast in which guests shared their memories of being moved by Ed’s “gravitational force” and the profoundly positive impact this had on their careers and lives. Ed was remembered for both his intellect and an irreverence for traditional classroom norms that quickly turned students into allies in the pursuit of an understanding of real-world economic behavior. Other common themes included Ed’s genuine care for the well-being of students, his passion for addressing injustices, his intense curiosity, and his disarming enthusiasm and “goofiness.”
There is no doubt that the Department of Economics has benefited greatly from our affiliation with Ed. These benefits promise to continue far into the future through an anonymous donor gift creating the Ed Whitelaw Chair in Urban Economics. The Department is thrilled and grateful that “Professor Ed’s” legacy will be honored through this named appointment.
Ed’s career has been memorialized in several publications, including Around the O, the Portland Business Journal, KLCC and The Oregon Way. Donations in recognition of Ed Whitelaw can be made to the High Desert Museum, 59800 US-97, Bend, Oregon, 97702.
The story unfolding around the Evergreen cargo ship blocking the Suez Canal last week has captivated much of our attention, and the resulting satellite images have made many wonder what impacts the stoppage might have on global trade. UO Economics Assistant Professor Woan Foong Wong has offered her insights to several news outlets, including the Washington Post:
“The fact that you have the most pivotal node in the trading network being blocked is going to have important welfare effects around the world,” said Woan Foong Wong, an economics professor at the University of Oregon.
Bennet Voorhees double majored in Chinese and Economics, and now he’s using both as a data scientist.
In this CAS Spotlight, Bennet shares that “the econ program really prepared me for my career as a data science lead. It taught me a lot about systems and how people behave and react in those systems…I fell in love with the power of those tools because you can use them to explain reactions and make predictions, and that really planted the economics seed for me.”
During his time at the UO, Bennet received multiple scholarships to study abroad in Shanghai and then Beijing, and carried his love for language learning over into his career as a data scientist. Now, he has the opportunity to use both skills in conjunction for the next step in his career: as a data science lead for Merck, Bennet uses the skills he learned through his economics major, combined with his fluency in Mandarin Chinese, to do workforce analytics on our companies’ labor force in China. He also teaches introduction to data science at the New York University School of Professional Studies, in their human capital management department.
You can read more about Bennet’s career after UO Econ on the CAS Blog.
Listeners of the VoxDev podcast last month heard a presentation from Silvia Prina, Associate Professor of Economics at Northeastern University, about the paper she recently co-authored with UO’s Alfredo Burlando and Michael Kuhn (both Associate Professors of Economics) titled “Too fast, too furious? Digital credit delivery speed and repayment rates.”
In this VoxDevTalk, Prina discusses her recent work with Burlando and Kuhn where they investigate whether the speed with which borrowers receive digital credit affects their likelihood of default.
You can listen to the full episode, and find a link to the paper itself, on the VoxDev website.
UO Economics undergraduate student Matthew Dodier’s research on the impact of major forest fires (such as those last summer in Oregon and other western states) on public health was featured in Around the O:
“Wildfires in Oregon were particularly intense in 2014, and as Dodier and Hansen kicked around ideas related to air pollution, “the idea of looking at forest fires came up,” Hansen says. “That’s something that is salient to everybody, but nobody had studied the impact on hospitalizations or its impact on pollution.”
The issue takes on new relevance as researchers examine the connection between air pollution and COVID-19. A recent study from Harvard, for example, found that Americans living in more polluted areas are more likely to die from the disease than those in clearer regions.”
The full story can be read on the Around the O website. Congratulations, Matthew!
Congratulations to one of our very recent PhD program graduates, Dr. Curtis Dlouhy! Curtis was awarded the Transportation and Public Utilities Group (TPUG) Best PhD Dissertation Award for 2020.
Curtis’s dissertation was titled “Causes and Consequences of the Coal Market Decline.” He will be recognized at TPUG’s virtual meeting that will take place in early January. More information is on blogs.uoregon.edu/tpug.
Congratulations to Curtis!