2019 Harvard Economics Dissertation Prizes Awarded

July 31, 2019

Three recent Econ grads have have been afforded special recognition for their dissertations. Ellora Derenoncourt has been awarded the David A. Wells Prize, while Shoshana Vasserman and Valentin Bolotnyy were awarded the Padma Desai Prize in Economics.

Ellora Derenoncourt's research interests are in labor economics and economic history. She combines quasi-experimental methods with original data collection from historical sources to understand the long-run determinants of inequality. Her current research focuses on the evolution of racial inequality in the US, including how northern responses to the Great Migration exacerbated racial inequality in upward mobility and how federal minimum wage policy accelerated racial convergence during the Civil Rights Era. She is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Economics (Industrial Relations Section) at Princeton University. In the Fall of 2020, she will join the Economics Department and the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley as an Assistant Professor.

Valentin Bolotnyy has worked on topics across public and labor economics, focusing on improving the provision of public services as well as student well-being. His graduate work, in collaboration with other graduate students, analyzed the gender earnings gap, public infrastructure procurement, immigration policies, and graduate student mental health. The studies have received national attention in outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, and Vox. Valentin will start as a Hoover Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution in September.

Shoshana Vasserman is an applied microeconomist with a focus on empirical industrial organization. Her work aims to understand the equilibrium implications of large scale policies that relate to information disclosure, risk sharing and commitment across a number of industries and domains. In addition to economics research, Shoshana enjoys exploring methods for statistical computing as well as simulation-based techniques for illustrating complex models. Prior to her Ph.D, Shoshana earned an S.B. in mathematics and in economics from M.I.T. in 2013. She will serve as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research during 2019-2020, and will start as an assistant professor in the economics group of the Stanford Graduate School of Business in July 2020.

Dissertation Awardees
Vasserman, Bolotnyy, & Derenoncourt