Letter from the Chair

EZ

Dear Economics Community,

I am delighted to be taking on the role of Chair of the Department of Economics! I have been in the Department since 1993 and so I know it well.  In addition to my role as Chair, I am also proudly the Robert R. Richards Chaired Professor of Economics. For the past three years, I have been on leave at Amazon working as a Senior Principal Economist in the Core AI group under the Chief Economist Pat Bajari. Upon my return to UW, I will continue to engage with Amazon part-time as an Amazon Scholar. In terms of my background, I received my Ph.D. in Economics from Yale University in 1992, an A.B. in Economics (with honors) and an A.B. in Statistics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1986. My main fields of research are time series, financial econometrics, quantitative risk management, and the intersection of machine learning and econometrics.

This year, we are excited to have two new members of faculty: Brian Greaney and Joshua Jacob. Assistant Professor Greaney received his Ph.D. in Economics this past spring from Yale University. He teaches an undergraduate course, Macroeconomics & Inequality, in addition to graduate courses. Assistant Teaching Professor Joshua Jacobs joins us from Duke University, where he recently received his Ph.D. Jacobs teaches several sections of Introduction to Microeconomics, Intro to Econometrics, and multiple sections of Investments and Capital Finance.

I am delighted to announce that Xu Tan has been promoted to Associate Professor, with tenure. Tan was hired by the Department of Economics as an Assistant Professor in 2013. Her research interests include social networks, information, development economics, and has been widely credited for its real world application. Tan teaches 400 and 500 level courses in behavioral economics, as well as both introductory and advanced courses in game theory.

Our undergraduate program has never been stronger, with over 700 students in the major each year. In addition, over 4,000 students of all majors across campus take our introductory level courses. The major has been competitive for several years, and we continue to see a high level of success in our applicants. The Study Aboard program sends students to top universities in six countries each year it is safe to do so, and the honors program continues to excel.

The Economics Undergraduate Board continues the work their predecessors started decades ago; to act as a leadership board for the undergraduate class, to provide tutoring services free of charge to their peers, and to host quarterly events specifically for the undergraduate class. I am also extremely proud of our mentorship program, which pairs economics students with alumni and professionals to help develop the student’s life and career skills.

We are only able to accommodate so many non-major and pre-major students because of our graduate students, many of whom TA for the large lecture courses and lead quiz sections. The graduate student body is made up of exception individuals from all over the globe in pursuit of their Ph.Ds. This program develops professional economists for a variety of careers in teaching, government, industry, or with international agencies in the United States and abroad.

The department can also boast one of the best alumni boards in the College, the Visiting Committee. Made up of alumni and professionals in the area, the Visiting Committee was established by a group of dedicated alumni over 30 years ago. Today, they have nearly 40 active members, and meet once a quarter. Alumni are also involved in our Undergraduate Mentorship program, the Women in Economics group, and are invited to the annual Nobel Prize lecture and bi-annual Milliman Lecture.

As Chair, it is my mission to support this thriving department and to help grow departmental efforts in other ways. Faculty research remains at the highest caliber, and our newly renamed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee continues to expand their role. I am proud of the work the department has done, and look forward to what we will accomplish in the future.

Best,

Eric Zivot
Professor and Department Chair
Robert R. Richards Endowed Chair