Rice Economics Fall 2016 Newsletter - Page 3

Publish Your Research! Have you met Professor Eraslan? Hülya Eraslan, Ralph O’Connor Professor of Economics, Interim Department Chair Research Interests: Political Economy, Game Theory, Corporate Finance Hülya Eraslan is the Ralph O’Connor Professor of Economics at Rice and currently serves as the Interim Department Chair and Director of Graduate Studies. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and has previously held positions at the Johns Hopkins University and the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Her area of expertise is bargaining and voting with an emphasis on applications in political economy and corporate finance. Her publications include work on legislative bargaining models, bankruptcy, and voting rules with asymmetric information which she has applied to environments as varied as U.S. budget negotiations, corporate bond markets, Chapter 13 personal bankruptcies, and government formation negotiations in European parliamentary democracies. How did you first get interested in economics? I did my undergraduate degree in computer engineering. I remember being fascinated with the prisoners’ dilemma in one of the engineering courses I took. It made me realize that mathematical models can help us understand human interactions that play a crucial role in economics and politics. That was the turning point that made me decide to pursue a graduate degree in economics. What drew you to game theory and political economy as an area of research? Again the turning point was a course I took, this time in my first year as a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota. It was an elective course on bargaining theory taught by a young and energetic assistant professor who is now the Dean of Social Sciences at Rice! Many collective decisions are of course made through bargaining in politics and corporations. My interest in bargaining and voting drew me to political economy and corporate finance. In layman’s terms, tell us about your current research and the impact you hope it achieves. My current research is on collective decision making in dynamic environments. One particular example is government budget negotiations. Every year a new budget is negotiated and the budget implemented in a given year affects the negotiations in future years.  For example, in the U.S., mandatory spending is enacted by law and remains in place unless explicitly changed. Mandatory spending consists largely of entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. There have been rising concerns about the increases in spending on entitlement programs in recent years. My research on budget negotiations aims to find out the effects of different institutions on government’s provision of public goods such as entitlement programs and especially tries to identify what budgetary institutions facilitate efficiency. Several journals publish research papers in economics written by undergraduates, including:   The Yale Undergraduate Journal of Economics and Politics Penn Journal of Economics The Developing Economist (University of Texas at Austin) UCLA Undergraduate Journal of Economics Undergraduate Economic Review (Illinois Western University) For a comprehensive list of journals specializing in undergraduate research, see the website of the Council on Undergraduate Research  As the Director for the Graduate Studies for the Economics Department, do you have any advice for students thinking about graduate school? I recommend taking a proof-based mathematics course. Real analysis is an excellent option. I also recommend taking the graduate micro sequence. These courses signal to the admission committees that the applicants know what they are getting into. For students who are U.S. citizens, I also recommend working at one of the Federal Reserve Banks as a research analyst prior to applying to graduate school. Many Federal Reserve Banks have outstanding placement records and they consistently place their research analysts in top Ph.D. programs. What do you enjoy the most about Rice? I love being at Rice because of its people: supportive administration, first-rate faculty, bright students, and dedicated staff. 3