Chair’s Corner

Chair’s Corner

Valerie Ramey

Welcome to this edition of Economics in Action. We have an exciting lineup of articles. The headline article by James Hamilton explains why we haven’t run out of oil yet, but why we might worry about the future. Faculty members Graham Elliott and Allan Timmermann write a wonderful tribute to our colleague Hal White, who passed away last March. Our faculty spotlight showcases Jeffrey Clemens, who is our newest member of the faculty. Jeff earned his doctorate at Harvard and spent last year as a postdoc at Stanford. We shine our alumni spotlight on Ali Almufti, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 2004 and now is a portfolio manager at BlackRock.


Congratulations to the many successes our students and faculty members have achieved over the last six months! Dallas Dotter, a doctoral candidate anticipating graduation this year, won a National Academy of Education Spencer Dissertation Fellowship for his work on the effects of school breakfast programs. The fellowship gives him a $25,000 stipend for completing his dissertation. Doctoral student Tamara Sheldon is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) starting in fall of 2012. The interdisciplinary project is a cross-departmental doctoral program that includes faculty from UC San Diego as well as adjunct faculty from other partner universities, nongovernmental organizations and government agencies. Junior faculty members Paul Niehaus and Irina Telyukova were named 2012-13 UC San Diego Hellman Faculty Fellows, and Prashant Bharadwaj was granted a UC San Diego Faculty Career Development Award. Emeritus Professor Vincent Crawford was elected a Fellow of the British Academy for Humanities and Social Sciences in 2012.

Graduate Program

Last May the department underwent an external review of its graduate program, an event that occurs every ten years or so. The review committee consisted of professors from Princeton, Columbia and UCLA. The official report included the following praise for the department: “The Economics Department at UCSD has developed into a very high-quality department (ranked among the top 15 economics departments nationally) with strength in a substantial number of sub-fields … The goals set in the 10-year plan have largely been met … [T]his is a truly astounding progression that has no parallel in other economics departments … The morale and esprit de corps in the Department is unusually good. There is a level of collegiality and interaction across groups and between younger and older faculty that is rare … The Department is a happy place to be.” We were delighted to receive such glowing praise for the atmosphere and accomplishments of our department.

Undergraduate Program

Our majors are becoming even more popular. This fall we had the highest number of entering freshmen who intend to choose our department for their major. One reason for the increase is that 23 percent of entering nonresident students choose a major in our department.

Why do so many students want to major in the “dismal science”? Perhaps the popularization of economics by books such as Freakonomics has revealed the “fun” side of economics. Students are also realizing that the economics major is a great preparation for many possible career paths. For example, economics majors rank highly not only in starting salaries but also salary growth. Economics majors are also in the top-scoring group on both the LSAT and the GMAT. (The other top majors are physics, philosophy, mathematics and engineering.) In addition, The New York Times reports that economics majors are second only to premed majors in the percent who ultimately wind up in the top 1 percent of the income distribution.

Outreach and Alumni

The Allied Social Sciences Associations conference will be held in San Diego January 4-6, 2013. We look forward to seeing many of our doctoral alumni there – especially at our cocktail party, which will be held on Saturday, January 5, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Manchester Grand Hyatt.

Valerie Ramey Signature
Valerie Ramey, Chair