Becker Friedman Institute announces two new research fellows

The Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics has appointed two new research fellows as part of the institute’s commitment to bringing the world’s most promising economists to Chicago to pursue original research.

The two fellows are Benjamin Brooks, whose work includes studies on creating incentives for cooperative behavior; and Thibaut Lamadon, who researches aspects of labor markets. Brooks obtained his PhD in economics from Princeton University, and Lamadon is a doctoral candidate in economics at University College London.

“This program offers a rare opportunity for our fellows to broaden their research perspectives to investigate some of the important economic problems at the outset of their research careers,” said Lars Peter Hansen, director of the Becker Friedman Institute and the David Rockefeller Distinguished Professor of Economics and Statistics. “We expect them to leverage the rich collaborative environment and unparalleled intellectual resources of the University of Chicago to pursue original work on significant questions in economics.”

Hansen said early-career scholars often feel career pressure to pursue narrow topics closely tied to their dissertation research. The institute’s scholar program allows fellows to broaden their research interests in a highly collaborative environment and launch an ambitious research program without teaching responsibilities. To support this ambition, research scholars have the opportunity to engage with elite academics at the University and distinguished visitors at the Institute.

The fellowship program also offers a powerful way to help recruit outstanding young researchers to the UChicago faculty, said John List, chairman of the Department of Economics and the Homer J. Livingston Professor of Economics.

“The institute is producing a cadre of superbly trained and productive young researchers who have been immersed in Chicago economics and mentored by some of Chicago’s most accomplished economists,” List said.

Both Brooks and Lamadon will join the University of Chicago’s Department of Economics as assistant professors at the end of their respective fellowships. Lamadon’s fellowship is until July 2015 and Brooks’ ends in July 2016.

Brooks has held research posts at Princeton, Yale University and the World Bank. He was the recipient of the 2012-2013 Harold W. Dodds Fellowship and held a Princeton graduate and summer fellowship from 2008-2012.

Brooks received his master’s degree in economics from Princeton in 2010 and graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and quantitative economics.

With a focus on microeconomic theory, Brooks is studying the role that information plays in the design of institutions and allocative mechanisms. Another strand of his work looks at models of repeated games that indicate how individuals can “incentivize one another to cooperate by adjusting their behavior in response to others’ past actions.”

“I am extremely grateful for the fellowship and for the opportunity to focus on my research before I teach,” Brooks said. “I look forward to interacting with my colleagues and students at the University and the many scholars that the institute brings to campus.”

Lamadon studied electrical and computer engineering at Supelec in his native France before joining the economics PhD program at University College London, where he received the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award.

“I cannot begin to describe how excited I am about being able to interact with such great economists in the upcoming year,” said Lamadon, who specializes on macro-labor, dynamic contracting, equilibrium search and applied econometrics.

During his fellowship, Lamadon hopes to finalize his current research on labor market and search frictions, and the equilibrium assignment of workers to firms. He said this work is an extension of Gary Becker’s work on labor market with frictions.

“The fellowship is also extremely valuable for my future teaching as well,” Lamadon adds. “The exposure to different perspectives about economics will give me more breadth and a better understanding of the field.”

The Becker Friedman Institute’s Research Fellows program was inaugurated in 2011. Potential candidates can find more information on how to apply here.

Scott Kominers, who spent two years as the inaugural research fellow at the institute, said his experience was life changing. “It was a tremendously useful experience that transformed my research and deepened my engagement with economics at every level,” Kominers said.

Kominers is now a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows, a research scientist at the Harvard Program for Evolutionary Dynamics and an associate of the Harvard Center for Research on Computation and Society.