What was your educational background before enrolling in the Ph.D. program in Economics at Carolina?
I was a Duke Econ M.A. student. Before that, I spent my undergrad at CUFE (Central University of Finance and Economics), Beijing, China.
What field of study did you pursue for your dissertation work, and how did you end up working in this area of economics?
My primary field is in Industrial Organization. My dissertation research focuses on empirically studying issues in the telecommunications industry: piracy, market definitions for competition policy, pricing, and inequality.
The basis for these projects is novel household-level data that I worked with as an RA for Prof. Jonathan Williams at UNC. The data offers unique insights into the way consumers use telecommunications services.
Did you pursue any other activities as a distraction from or complement to economics training during your time as a student?
I enjoy workouts at a slower pace (Yoga, Pilates, and Barre). I am also a theatre fan for musicals and plays.
What is on the horizon upon graduation?
I will join Cornerstone Research, NY as a full-time associate after graduation, starting from July 2023.
What advice would you give yourself if you could go back 5 years to when you first enrolled in the program?
- Actively engage in class discussions. It is the best way to absorb knowledge, especially in second-year field courses. Whenever somebody asks a question, think about it and answer it even if you feel uncertain. Also, make sure to make comments brief and precise. It takes a lot of practice!
- Balance daily life and personal life. Starting from the third year, you find yourself lingering in the woods. Sometimes you feel the urge to work until you burn out. Sometimes you need to deal with boredom. It is very important to form a healthy lifestyle to balance demand of your research and demand of your life. This is something I am still in the process of learning. One thing I find really helpful is to add workouts as a part of your daily routine. And make sure you love it, otherwise it creates additional emotional burden.
Although you are still a grad student for a little while, how do you think you will remember your time as a student?
North Carolina is the most pleasant site to spend time as a student because you can enjoy the nature while performing research. My deepest memory would be the spring of 2021, when the pandemic was slightly relieved by availability of vaccines. It was also the semester that I started my independent research on piracy and digitalization. During February, March and April, as bus services were not lifted to regular basis, I took walks through hill and wood, admiring the green landscape brought by a wealth of plants, on sunny days – a typical thing in North Carolina – to my office on the fourth floor of Gardener Hall, working on regular tasks and occupations. The beauties and peacefulness of the campus provides an endeavor to study.
Can you identify something that brought you joy during your educational journey?
The first time I attended an offline conference post pandemic – Excitement proceeded nervousness as it has been two years since I last met so many people. I benefited a lot from [meeting] scholars of various fields, receiving wonderful suggestions, and exchanging ideas. Virtual events maintain their own merits in convenience and cost efficiency, while offline events support your research by building relationships in a more natural way, which I considered essential.