I studied economics as an undergraduate. I was always fascinated by markets, and in particular the decisions of firms in setting prices, designing advertising campaigns, and motivating employees. After graduating, I worked with economists on antitrust cases at Charles River Associates. In that role, I analyzed the internal data of several large corporations. I decided to return to school for a PhD to learn more tools and conduct my own research into how the behavior of these firms affects consumers. The Business Economics program at HBS offered me the opportunity to learn the latest econometric techniques for analyzing market behavior. The HBS and Harvard economics professors I talked to during my graduate school search were excited about many of the same questions I hoped to study.
I study industrial organization, in particular the industrial organization of health care markets. I am also interested in econometric methods and developing tools to better analyze how individuals make decisions in health markets.
I learned in my first course in econometrics the value of economic analysis for policy. I loved the idea of designing a model of how firms and individuals behave and taking it to data to predict what might occur if, for example, the government changed its policies. I continued taking econometrics courses into my senior year at Cornell. When I started graduate school, I got interested in methods to model the dynamic behavior of individuals. For example, I study how physicians learn over time about the best treatment for a patient's illness. By modeling the learning process carefully, I could show how advertising, pharmaceutical prices, and the features of insurance plans might cause physicians to change their prescribing over time. I identified a set of preferred policies to enable physicians to find the treatment best suited to the patient as quickly as possible.
The Business Economics Program
The Business Economics PHD program was the perfect choice for me. In the end, I was able to assemble a thesis committee with strong faculty in industrial organization, health economics, and econometrics. The HBS faculty was very supportive of my research in health care markets. However, the real strength of the program for me was having great colleagues. I regularly talk to my Bus Ec and economics classmates about my research ideas. Their feedback helped me in working through early ideas and developing the strongest of these into finished research papers.
The HBS Experience
The HBS office space makes it easy to interact with my classmates. We sit in desks near each other and near faculty. I tended to arrive early in the morning to start up research tasks. I knew that if I ran into computing trouble or needed advice on statistics, I could turn to a friend and talk about my issue. It also made my day more interesting when I could help a friend work through a research problem.
I'm working as a postdoctoral associate at the Cowles Foundation at Yale University for one year, before beginning my full-time position as an assistant professor of economics at Stanford University.
Over my five years at HBS, I developed a strong connection to my faculty advisors and classmates. I continue to talk daily with my colleagues, some of whom are co-authors.
Advice for prospective HBS doctoral students
In deciding on a school, finding faculty with whom you'd like to work is very important. However, you'll spend most of your graduate school years working on coursework with your classmates and later discussing your dissertation research with them. It's important to find a place where you feel supported and can easily collaborate with your classmates. HBS and Harvard more broadly bring in a very diverse group of graduate students who are interested in economics and eager to discuss research ideas.