New Faculty [news/navbar.htm]

The Economics Department at UNC is pleased to welcome four new faculty for fall 2014. 

Portrait of Simon Alder
Simon Alder
University of Zurich

Ju Hyun Kim
Columbia University

Michelle Sheran-Andrews
University of Virginia
Valentin Verdier
Michigan State University

Simon Alder’s
main research interests are growth and development, applied econometrics, and regional economics.  In his work on development and infrastructure in India, Simon uses a general equilibrium framework to compare the effects of the Indian highway project which connects the four largest economic centers to that of a hypothetical project based on the Chinese approach of connecting intermediate sized cities.  He finds that connecting the major centers leads a somewhat greater but more unequally distributed aggregate growth.  Following the Chinese strategy would yield less geographical concentrated effects which would substantially benefit the lagging regions of India. 

Ju Hyun Kim studies the identification of treatment effects, distributional parameters, and sharing rules with unobserved heterogeneity.  In his work on the identification of the distribution of treatment effects (DTE), Ju Hyun considers applications with fixed marginal distributions and support restrictions on the potential outcomes.  Examples of such restrictions include monotone treatment response, concave treatment response, convex treatment response, and the Roy model of self-selection. To establish informative bounds on the DTE, he formulates the problem as an optimal transportation linear program and incorporates support restrictions into the cost function using a Lagrange multiplier approach.

Michelle Sheran-Andrews joins us after 13 years at our sister institution, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she won Teaching Excellence Awards from the Bryan School of Business and Economics in 2005, 2009, and 2014 and from the Student Government Association in 2010.  Michelle is an experienced teacher and researcher in microeconomics, economic statistics and labor economics.  Her early research focused on public programs for needy families and on women's joint career and family decisions.  In recent years, she has been particularly interested in the role assessment in the learning process and as a means of integrating core content across the curriculum, and she has presented her work at conferences in Wilmington and Greensboro.

Valentin Verdier works on the estimation of panel data models when covariates are not strictly exogenous, i.e. when there is feedback between the dependent variable and one or more explanatory variables. In such cases, fixed effects or first difference estimators are not consistent.  It is common instead to rely on instrumental variable estimation methods. However, the instruments that are used are often weak, which results in inaccurate estimators.  Valentin has found ways to mitigate this weak instrumental variable problem notably through the use of cross-sectional dependence.  He is applying his methods in estimating the effects of private school attendance on student achievement in Pakistan and of new agriculture technologies n farm profitability in Uganda.