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BU Economics PhD Student Elisabeth Perlman awarded Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation

By Courtney Sullivan
August 5th, 2014 in Departmental News, Graduate Programs News, PhD Student Achievements.

BU Economics PhD Student Elisabeth Perlman was awarded a Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation. The grant was awarded to support her work on the paper “Dense Enough To Be Brilliant: Patents, Urbanization, and Transportation in Nineteenth Century America”, part of her dissertation titled “Three Papers on the Expansion of Information and Transportation Networks in Nineteenth Century America”.

Additional information about the National Science Foundation’s Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship Program is available at

BU Economics PhD student William Johnson appointed 2014-15 Growth Lab Fellow

By Courtney Sullivan
July 21st, 2014 in Departmental News, Graduate Programs News, PhD Student Achievements.

PhD student William Johnson has been invited to join Harvard University’s Center for International Development as a Growth Lab Fellow for the 2014-15 academic year. This appointment is intended to encourage collaboration between Johnson, other Growth Lab Fellows, and the staff of the Center for International Development.

BU Economics PhD student Matthew Johnson awarded Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy grant

By Courtney Sullivan
July 21st, 2014 in Departmental News, Graduate Programs News, PhD Student Achievements.

PhD student Matthew Johnson received a grant from the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, a Washington, DC, based think tank. The grant is together with Michael Toffel at the Harvard Business School and David Levine at the University of California, Berkeley. Their project is to develop a low cost randomized control trial to provide a clearer understanding of the impact of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations and inspections. As a by-product, they will identify the types of workplaces where OSHA inspections are more or less effective and generate other insights to improve the targeting of OSHA efforts in the future.

The grant was awarded as part of a nation-wide competition for research on randomized control trials. Johnson’s proposal was one of three funded by the Coalition. The competition and Johnson’s project were discussed in an article in the New York Times July 15, 2014, and on the White House Office of Science and Technology blog July 9, 2014.

IED’s Rosenstein-Rodan Prize awarded to Mirko Fillbrunn, Anusha Nath, and Nate Young

By Courtney Sullivan
July 10th, 2014 in Graduate Programs News, Institute for Economic Development, PhD Student Achievements.

The Institute for Economic Development awards the Rosenstein-Rodan Prize for the best original research on development economics or a related discipline among PhD students. This year there was an extraordinarily large number of high quality submissions, making the problem of selection particularly difficult. The papers were read and evaluated by a committee of six IED faculty affiliates comprising Kenny Ajayi, Sam Bazzi, John Harris, Bob Lucas, Dilip Mookherjee, and Andy Newman.

The 2014 Rosenstein-Rodan prize will be shared by three students:

Mirko Fillbrunn: “Strategic Voting and Ballot-Order Effects”

Anusha Nath: “Political Competition and Elite Capture of Local Public Goods”

Nate Young: “The Effect of Formal Banking on Real Economic Outcomes: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Analysis in India”

Mirko’s paper studies the phenomenon of ballot-order effects where the order in which candidates appear on the ballot matters for election outcomes. He develops a number of alternative theories for explaining this, and uses data from local California elections to discriminate between them empirically.

Anusha’s paper studies the allocation of spending across different local public goods by Members of Parliament in India out of a discretionary fund they control. She provides evidence that local elites exert disproportionate influence on these allocations, which is moderated by political competition.

Nate’s paper studies the effect of a banking regulatory reform in India implemented in 2006-7. He uses evidence to show that the reform had a significant impact on spatial allocation of branches by commercial banks, on deposits and loans, with consequent impacts on agricultural productivity and industrial investment.

MA Students Admitted to Top PhD Programs

By Courtney Sullivan
May 16th, 2014 in Graduate Programs News, MA Student Achievements.

Boston University MA graduates often go on to top PhD programs, but this year’s PhD placements are particularly remarkable.  Numerous students had difficult but enviable choices to make from multiple admission offers before settling on their final destinations.  Among the PhD programs our students will be joining next year are University of Chicago, New York University, University of Wisconsin, University of California at Los Angeles, Georgetown University, McGill University, the University of California at Davis, Purdue University, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, the School of Public Health at Harvard, and, of course, Boston University.

Prizes for Academic Excellence in the Economics Master’s Program awarded to Xiao Yang and Beixi Zhou

By Courtney Sullivan
May 16th, 2014 in Alumni, Graduate Programs News, MA Student Achievements.

The first Prizes for Academic Excellence in the Economics Master’s Program were awarded this year to Xiao Yang and Beixi Zhou.  Xiao, a graduate of the MA program, was an outstanding student in courses both in the Economics Department and in Mathematics.  During his time in the program, he worked as a research assistant for Professor Jianjun Miao and carried out an outstanding math project entitled “Fractals and the Evolution of Political Beliefs.”  Next year, he will begin work on his PhD in Economics at the University of Chicago.  Beixi is receiving her BA in Economics and Mathematics along with an MA in Economics.  She also took numerous PhD courses in Economics while in the program, including the first year Microeconomics as well as Health Economics.  Next year, she will begin work on her PhD in Economics at New York University.  Funding for this award was provided by alumni Randy Cohen, Brian Herr, Michael Kheyfets, and Michelle Meyer.

Special PhD Stipend for MA Graduates awarded to Youming Liu

By Courtney Sullivan
May 16th, 2014 in Graduate Programs News, MA Student Achievements.

Starting this year, the Economics Department awards a summer stipend to a graduate of our MA program who enters our PhD program.  The first recipient of this award is Youming Liu.  Youming joined the MA program after receiving an undergraduate degree in finance in China.  He earned a stellar academic record, including numerous courses in Mathematics as well as the Economics PhD program.  He was admitted to several highly ranked PhD programs, but described himself as “saturated with happiness” when he was admitted to BU.  Funding for this award was provided by a generous donation by the family of an MA alumnus.

College Prize for Excellence in Economics goes to Guy Aridor, Calvin Chiu, and Jessika Smith

By Courtney Sullivan
May 16th, 2014 in Undergraduate Program News.

The College Prize for Excellence in Economics recognizes undergraduate students who have shown great achievement in economics, commitment to the field, and a deep passion for learning.  This year’s recipients are Guy Aridor, Calvin Chiu, and Jessika Smith.  Guy has completed his studies in economics, computer science, and mathematics while playing on the BU curling team and serving as captain of the BU Fed Challenge team.  He was the recipient of the Hariri Institute for Computing Award.  After graduating, he will work as a software engineer for Nutonian.  Calvin is graduating with a BA/MA in Economics and a BA in International Relations.  He won the Undergraduate Essay Prize in East Asian Studies in 2013 and has been an avid member of the BU Debate Society.  Jessika is graduating with a BA/MA degree, where her BA is a double major in Economics and Environmental Analysis.  While pursuing her studies, she has been involved in many other activities including volunteering as an SAT math tutor for high school students and serving on the South Campus RHA Executive Board.  After graduating, she plans to pursue a career as an environmental economist.

Alumna Julie Shi coauthor on finalist paper in NIHCM Foundation’s Annual Health Care Research Award

By Courtney Sullivan
April 14th, 2014 in Alumni, PhD Student Achievements.

Recent graduate Julie Shi (PhD ’13) coauthored a paper that was selected as a finalist for NIHCM Foundation’s 20th Annual Health Care Research Award competition. The competition evaluated over 110 high-quality submissions for the awards, representing the best health care research published in 2013. The paper was written while Julie was still working on her BU Ph.D. dissertation.

Five finalists were selected, and links to the full papers or abstracts are available at

 Thomas G. McGuire, Jacob Glazer, Joseph P. Newhouse, Sharon-Lise Normand, Julie Shi, Anna D. Sinaiko, Samuel Zuvekas. “Integrating Risk Adjustment and Enrollee Premiums in Health Plan Payment.” Journal of Health Economics, December 2013.

The winning article will be selected by a panel of health care experts: Laurence C. Baker, Stanford University; William Custer, Georgia State University; Vicky Gregg, Consultant;
Jonathan Gruber, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (recused); Marion Ein Lewin, Consultant; Joseph P. Newhouse, Harvard University (recused); Mark Pauly, University of Pennsylvania; and Gail R. Wilensky, Project HOPE.

BU Economics’ Jianjun Miao promoted to Full Professor

By Courtney Sullivan
March 25th, 2014 in Departmental News.

President Bob Brown and Provost Jean Morrison announced this week the promotion of 13 members of our Charles River Campus faculty to Full Professor at Boston University, including Jianjun Miao of the Department of Economics.

Quoting from Provost Morrison’s statement,

Through seminal scholarship, eye-opening exploration, and a passion for the transmission of knowledge, these exceptional faculty members have emerged as leaders, both in their respective fields of research and in their classrooms. They are merging disciplines to discover solutions to some of our most pressing challenges, producing foundational writings that help to evolve our understanding of the world, and working to inspire a new generation of young scholars and professionals. In doing so, they help to demonstrate each day the true depth of Boston University’s talented academic community. We are proud to count them as members of our faculty and pleased that their careers will be spent here at BU.

Professor Miao specializes in theoretical macroeconomics and finance, devoting his research to multiple areas, including asset pricing, dynamic corporate finance, financial crises and tax policy. The author of a forthcoming textbook, he has published extensively in top economics and finance journals, and is a regularly invited speaker at international finance conferences and seminars in the U.S., Europe and Asia.