Monday, October 19, 2009

First Female Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences

Yesterday's New York Times had a full page ad by Levi's that said: "THIS YEAR, FIVE WOMEN HAVE CONFERRED THE GREATEST BENEFIT ON MANKIND." In smaller print the statement followed: Congratulations to these Nobel Prize winners who, we believe, exemplify the pioneering spirit in all of us --regardless of gender.

Indeed, in 2009, there are five female Nobel laureates and the first female, Elinor Ostrom of Indiana University, to be awarded the prize in economic sciences. Each of the females has her own fascinating story. I was especially touched by Carol Greider, who suffered from dyslexia, and who is sharing the prize in medicine with her dissertation advisor, Elizabeth Blackburn, who is also female, and by Elinor Ostrom, who, as a child, was a stutterer. You can read a wonderful bio of her here. What very much impressed me about Elinor Ostrom is her devotion to interdisciplinary research and her ability to bring together researchers for collaborations. Also, her productivity is amazing as evidenced by the publications on her cv. I also very much appreciate Ostrom's central theme of her research and her capacity to innovate and tackle problems associated with governance and natural resources from new directions. Ostrom is sharing the prize with Oliver Williamson of UC Berkeley.

Interestingly, I had contributed a chapter on parallel computation to the first volume of the Handbook of Computational Economics, whereas Ostrom had contributed a chapter on governing social-ecological systems with Janssen to the second volume. The editors of these two volumes were, respectively, Hans Amman, David Kendrick, and John Rust for the first, and Leigh Tesfatsion and Ken Judd for the second volume. These are my good colleagues from the Society of Computational Economics.