Welcome to my website!
I have a link for a boilerplate bio below my photo, but it tells you very little about who I am, what I do and why. To find out more about these things, read on; if you want detail on the positions, titles and awards click the link.
Me. I have always been interested in the how and why of things. I also love to build and create things. It seemed natural that I study physics or engineering and this is certainly what my parents expected. This was also my plan, until I made the fatal mistake of reading the University’s course catalog during the summer before I was to enter an Engineering program. I was seduced by the course descriptions in political science, psychology, history, and classics – students in these courses studied the how and why of important world events; they studied the distant past as a guide to the present day; and these fields of study promised to help me make sense of the world around me. I wanted to take all the courses – immediately if possible - but my Engineering program gave me few options. So, in August of that summer, I made the fateful decision to withdraw from Engineering and enter a General Studies Program instead. I had no set plan and no obvious career path. My parents thought I was crazy.
Three irresponsible but fun years later, I figured out that Economics was for me. It fulfilled my need to think abstractly about the workings of the world; and it gave me the tools to turn these abstract ideas into testable hypotheses I could evaluate empirically. Economics fulfilled its promise to help me confront the mysteries of the world. I am pretty sure this – solving the mysteries of the world view - isn’t the economics that most people think of when they read the financial pages or listen to the news, but this is the economics that all academics live for and it should be what we teach our students.
So, this is what I get to do every day. I use economic theory to organize data drawn from the real world (including first-person accounts, satellite images, and government statistical records) to ask, and then attempt to answer, some of the largest questions the world has to offer. Some of the questions I have tried to answer are: What drives economic growth? Can it continue forever? Is international trade between countries good or bad for them? Is trade good for the health of forest, fishery and wildlife resources? And how are the opportunities to trade internationally, ongoing economic growth and environmental outcomes like pollution levels, linked?
These questions touch on several different branches of economics, and my career has been either very broad in its scope - or scattered - depending on whether you’re a fan or a critic. Personally, I find moving across different branches of economics – economic growth, international trade, and resource and environmental economics – both exhilarating and exhausting. In some cases, my reach has exceeded my grasp, but I like hard problems and I enjoy the struggle. And while I can’t say I have provided complete answers to any of these questions, my methods are often novel and useful to subsequent researchers who take up the challenge where I left off.
Fortunately, I have been blessed with a series of great co-authors and a couple of fantastic mentors. Learning from them has allowed me to make some significant contributions to what we know about the answers to these questions. This is of course great fun and has made for a very rewarding career that you can read about in the boilerplate bio, but at bottom I am still that seventeen-year-old kid who wanted to take all the courses in the catalog to try to make sense of the world around him. And I’m still trying…