Fall 2016 issue


Margaret Insley
Letter from the Chair

I consider myself to be very fortunate to serve as Chair of the Department of Economics. Our department has grown tremendously, and we currently have over 12,000 undergraduate class enrolments, 26 Masters and 17 PhD students. With 36 professors and lecturers, and four staff, we offer a broad range of programs for students.

This year, we have implemented some exciting undergraduate curriculum reforms: formal tutorials for our most challenging courses; a stream-lined theory sequence, making more room for exciting new electives on Gender Economics, Natural Resource Economics, Health Economics, Money Banking, and Economics of Sport; and new courses aimed at improving empirical skills. A focus of our programs is on empirical skills, which is crucial in a world where we see the quantification of everything. Our graduate program is thriving, and many of our new students are looking forward to taking part in our long-standing successful co-op program. Three new PhD students joined us this fall and, this past year, five PhD students graduated and found good jobs.

We are proud of our students and our alumni and hope to stay in touch with as many of you possible. Your feedback on how your degree in economics has helped you in your career is invaluable as we adapt our programs to the ever changing economy.

Professor Margaret Insley
Chair, Economics Department

You're Invited!

David Autor
Waterloo Arts Distinguished Lecture in Economics

Why are there still so many jobs? The History and Future of Workplace Automation

David Autor, Ford Professor of Economics at MIT

Professor Autor is one of the world's most influential labour economists. He has made significant contributions to our understanding of the recent increases in income inequality and the disappearance of routine jobs.

Many of the great technological advances of the past two centuries have been designed to reduce human work: to substitute mechanical power for human musculature, to replace inconsistent human handiwork with machine perfection, and to eliminate slow and error-prone human calculation with digital precision. These inventions have worked. Yet, despite these vast labour-saving technological advances, the fraction of the adult population that is working at a job is higher now than it was 125 years ago, and it has risen in almost every decade since at least 1890. Why hasn’t automation wiped out employment? Why are there still so many jobs?

Join us Thursday, October 6, 2016 at 4 p.m. at Theatre of the Arts, ML to hear what Professor Autor's research can tell us about these questions.

Can't make it? A video recording will be available here after the talk.

Our Distinguished Lecture series is a wonderful opportunity for our students to hear from top thinkers and researchers in economics. By presenting lectures on topics of broad public interest, we consider this a valuable opportunity for outreach into the local community.

Update from the UW Economics Society 

UW Economics Society
The Economics Society is here to provide students with the infrastructure and tools for collaborative engagement, support, and learning in hopes of promoting interest in Economics throughout the student body. We are actively organizing academic, social, and networking events including tutorial sessions, guest speakers, professor-student mixers and much more. Check out our Facebook page. 

This year, we organized an Economics Conference that featured industry leaders in the fields of Public Policy, Finance, Statistics, and Healthcare Management, as well as a keynote speech by Larry Smith (Adjunct Associate Professor in Economics, UW). The conference invited delegates from a range of programs and faculties at the University of Waterloo, who provided amazing feedback on their experience throughout the event. 

George Liu
VP of Finance and Operations, Economics Society

Research Highlight: Tracking the Puck, Improving the Game 

Hockey players

Phil Curry
Phil Curry (Economics) and Pascal Poupart (Computer Science) have been awarded a grant to partner with HockeyTech, a local company, to develop a technology that could dramatically impact the sport of hockey.

HockeyTech has a licensed technology that uses RFID chips to track players

Pascal Poupart
and the puck, collecting over 20 million data points per game. Phil and Pascal are working to use these data to develop better descriptive statistics of what happens in a game, such as time of puck possession, player and shot speed, and passes made and received. In addition, they are working to develop better tools for player evaluation, systems evaluation and forecasting.

Highlights of the Past Year: 

Distinguished Lecture in Economics, October 6, 2015

Reducing inequality and improving productivity

Richard Freeman

Richard B. Freeman, Herbert Ascherman Chair in Economics at Harvard University, suggests that wider ownership of capital and worker participation in decision making could reduce the growth of inequality.

Alumni Talk, March 14, 2016

The Ups and Downs of a Womans Career in Capital Markets

Kathleen Wylie

Kathleen Wylie, UW Economics Alumnus (BA 88, MA 89), Executive Director - Investment Management Research at CIBC Asset Management, and former Head of Canadian Equity Research, Investment Division, Russell Investments, gave an inspiring talk on her career and several critical tips for success.

Waterloo Economics PhD Conference, May 14, 2016

PhD panel

This conference was initiated in 2016 to encourage networking and to provide alumni with an opportunity to present their research and share advice and information on navigating a PhD in Economics. Our next PhD conference will be in Spring 2018.

Welcome Dr. Riddell!

We are very pleased to welcome to our department Dr. Chris Riddell (previously Associate Professor at Cornell University). Dr. Riddells expertise in labour economics adds to the departments considerable research strength in this area.

Awards and Accolades

Rob MacIsaac
Rob MacIsaac (BA 1984) won the 2015 UW Arts Alumni Achievement Award. Rob MacIsaac is President and CEO of Hamilton Health Sciences, one of the largest and most comprehensive research hospital systems in Ontario. He has served as President of Mohawk College (2009-2014), leading the largest campus renewal project in their history, and as former Councillor and Mayor of the City of Burlington where he helped redevelop Burlingtons waterfront, and led the development of Ontarios Greenbelt.

Pat Shaw
Pat Shaw, Administrative Coordinator for the Economics Graduate Program, won the 2016 Arts Award for Excellence in Service.

Congratulations Pat! Thank you for your tireless efforts and countless contributions to the Economics Department.

Mary Ann Vaughan

Professor Mary Ann Vaughan, won the 2016 UW Warrior Campus Service Award, presented at the at the 56th annual Athletics Banquet.

Congratulations Mary Ann! Many thanks for your campus spirit and for your ongoing and enthusiastic Warriors support!

Larry Smith

The University of Waterloo celebrated Professor Larry Smiths successful TED talk and book release, with a special event and book signing, May 17th, 2016.

Professor Smiths new book: No Fears, No Excuses: What You Need to Do to Have a Great Career is based on his popular TED talk Why you will fail to have a great career, which has over five million views.

Congratulations to our top students of 2015-2016!

Department Award Recipient (top GPA):
Asa Ytta Motha-Pollock

2+2 Achievement Award Recipient * (top GPA):
Shimeng Huang

Senior Honours Essay Award Recipient * (best essay):
Changqing Li “The Relationship between Exchange Rate and Trade Flow of China and Its Major Trade Partners”

Economics Achievement Award Winners* (highest GPAs): 
Asa Ytta Motha-Pollock, Shimeng Huang, Shelly Kaushik, Changqing Li, Justin Ngai

Kenneth Stollery Memorial Graduate Award* (academic achievement): 
Jordan Hill, Zong Jia Chen

* These awards include a financial prize which is supported by alumni contributions to the Department of Economics. Thank you for your contributions. 

Want to Connect?

  • Have exciting news to share? We'd love to hear what you are up to!
  • Interested in giving a talk? Each year we invite a UW Economics alumnus to inspire and inform our students.
  • Want to be involved in networking or economic events? Let us know.
  • Want to donate? Your contributions help fund awards and lectures that benefit student

We'd love to hear from you. To connect, please email Margaret Insley. To donate, please contact Kim Bardwell or donate online.

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