26 Jan 2022

Behind the Research: Kyle Myers


by Shona Simkin

Kyle Myers is an assistant professor of business administration in the Technology and Operations Management (TOM) unit and teaches the first-year TOM course. We asked Kyle about his research, how he goes about it, and what he likes to do in his spare time.

What is your area of research?
I study the economics of science. In science, it is often the case that there is a funder who wants something done, and a scientist who has a great idea but no funds for pursuing their research. I really like thinking about how those two sets of individuals interact–whether the funding is coming from the government, universities, or private companies. I’m very interested in the intersection of public and private organizations. My goal is to help policy makers and people at this intersection figure out how to navigate that space.

How do you go about that research?
Until about a year ago, I mostly worked with public data on governments’ investments in research grants. But within the past year or so I’ve started to work on developing surveys of scientists. There is only so much information you can learn about how scientists do their work without asking them directly, “How do you do your work?” It has finally dawned on me that surveys will be valuable in this setting. I’ve been taking a lot of surveys that government agencies use to survey employers and households and turning them into surveys for scientists with the hope that eventually we’ll have new data that will allow us to better study what makes a good scientist.

How did you get interested in the economics of science?
For most of my education and career I was very interested in the hard sciences. I worked in biology labs from high school through college. I eventually lost a bit of enthusiasm for the routine nature of the work I was doing but remained really interested in the field and inspired by the inventions and discoveries that scientists were making.

I veered into public health because it was a bit easier to see the connection to human beings and the impact of the things I was working on. I was at the CDC in Atlanta for a few years, and had a fellowship at the National Institutes for Occupational Safety and Health, which is the research organization that studies occupational safety and health—the research group behind OSHA’s rules. I became really interested in how the organization allocated money to different researchers. I applied for a PhD and began to think about science from the outside–how do scientists do what they do and how we should fund what they do.

What do you like to do outside of work?
At the moment my wife and I are preparing for our first child—he’s due in mid-January. So any spare time has been spent building the nest to get ready for the new child. Before the nesting madness began, my wife and I liked to travel and camp—wherever we could go locally, nationally, or internationally with good hiking and camping. We’re already looking into the hiking versions of baby carriers and the portable gear you can have in your tent. I’m most excited by some of the gigantic tents with multiple rooms—like a house–it’s the childhood dream of building a fort in your bedroom, but even bigger and grander.

Read more about Professor Myers in Working Knowledge. For updates on HBS faculty research, sign up for Working Knowledge’s weekly e-mail newsletter.

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