In June 2016, after five years of distinguished departmental leadership, Whitney Newey (PhD ’83) was succeeded as Department Head by Glenn Ellison (PhD ’92). Glenn, who joined the MIT faculty in 1994, has made important research contributions in game theory, industrial organization, and financial economics. A past editor of Econometrica, Glenn is also one of the department’s most celebrated teachers. David Autor continues as Associate Department Head.
The Economics Department welcomed several new faculty members in July 2016. Alberto Abadie (PhD ’99), formerly a faculty member at the Harvard Kennedy School, became a Professor of Economics. Isaiah Andrews (PhD ’14), formerly a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows, joined the faculty as the Silverman (1968) Family Career Development Assistant Professor. Drew Fudenberg (PhD ’81), who was a member of the MIT faculty in the late 1980s and early 1990s before moving to Harvard, returned to MIT as Paul A. Samuelson Professor of Economics. John Van Reenen of the London School of Economics became a Professor of Applied Economics in MIT Sloan and Economics.
A number of faculty were promoted or appointed to named chairs. Heidi Williams became an Associate Professor with tenure. Nikhil Agarwal was appointed the Castle Krob Career Development Assistant Professor. Amy Finkelstein (PhD ’01) was appointed John and Jennie S. MacDonald Professor of Economics, Parag Pathak was appointed Jane Berkowitz Carlton and Dennis William Carlton Professor of Microeconomics. Whitney Newey, the former holder of the Carlton Professorship, and David Autor were appointed Ford Professors of Economics; Victor Chernozhukov was appointed Ford International Professor of Economics.
In May 2016, the Economics Department recognized the extraordinary contributions of Jerry Hausman, who after 43 years of service as an MIT faculty member, became the John and Jennie S. MacDonald Professor of Economics, Emeritus, in July. The department also celebrated Olivier Blanchard (PhD ’77), the Robert Solow Professor of Economics, Emeritus, who recently completed eight years of service as the Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund. Blanchard is currently a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.
The MIT Economics community was saddened in March 2016 by the passing of Lester Thurow, the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Professor of Management and Economics, Emeritus, and former Dean of MIT Sloan.
Many Economics faculty members were recognized in the past year for their research and teaching contributions. Among the highlights were:
Daron Acemoglu received an honorary doctorate from the University of Bilkent in Turkey.
David Autor was elected a Fellow of the Econometric Society.
Victor Chernozhukov was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Esther Duflo (PhD ’99) was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.
Bengt Holmström was selected as the 2016 CES Distinguished Fellow by the Center for Economic Studies in Munich.
Alexander Wolitzky (PhD ’11) received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, recognizing exceptional early-career promise.
Michael Whinston (PhD ’84) received the Econometric Society’s Frisch Medal for his 2015 Econometrica article, “Equilibria in Health Exchanges: Adverse Selection versus Reclassification Risk.”
Heidi Williams received the Arrow Award from the International Health Economics Association and the Best Adviser and the Best Teacher awards from the MIT Graduate Economics Association.
Faculty members continue to provide leadership and service to the economics profession. Daron Acemoglu is a Vice-President and David Autor is a member of the Executive Committee of the American Economic Association (AEA). Jonathan Gruber (SB ’87) is the President-Elect of the American Society of Health Economists. Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Ben Olken serve on the Board of Directors of the Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development. Drew Fudenberg is the First Vice-President of the Econometric Society, where Daron Acemoglu, Rob Townsend, and Whitney Newey are members of the North America Council. At the National Bureau of Economic Research, where James Poterba serves as President, Amy Finkelstein co-directs the Public Economics Program and Jonathan Gruber directs the Health Care Program. David Autor serves as Director of the NBER’s Disability Research Center. Robert Gibbons and Parag Pathak are founding directors of the Organizational Economics and Market Design working groups, respectively. Rob Townsend is the First Vice-President of the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory.
MIT Economics faculty are also active as journal editors. In January 2017, Esther Duflo will become Editor in Chief of the American Economic Review; this follows her very successful tenure as Founding Editor of the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics. Victor Chernozhukov and Anna Mikusheva serve as Co-Editors for Econometric Theory. Arnaud Costinot serves as Foreign Editor for the Review of Economic Studies; along with Parag Pathak and John Van Reenen, he also serves on the Board of Editors for the American Economic Review. Ben Olken serves on the Board of Reviewing Editors of Science. Several faculty members serve on the board of editors for other AEA journals: Abhijit Banerjee (Applied Economics), Arnaud Costinot (Journal of Economic Literature), Amy Finkelstein (Economic Policy), and Michael Whinston (Microeconomics).
Other faculty continue the department’s tradition of broader public service. Esther Duflo serves on The President’s Global Development Council. Amy Finkelstein serves on the Congressional Budget Office’s Panel of Health Advisers, where James Poterba serves on the Panel of Economic Advisers. Parag Pathak is a member of the Scientific Board at the Institute for Innovation in Public School Choice. Nancy Rose (PhD ’85) has served since 2014 as the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Economic Analysis in the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.