Alice Ellyson (15-16)University of Washington (Post-Doc)
As a short introduction, my name is Alice Ellyson and I am currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Washington in the Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research and Policy Program. I completed my PhD in the Department of Economics at FSU in April of 2016 and my research focuses broadly in health economics and policy, and applied econometrics. There are three strengths of the doctoral program at FSU that I feel have been crucial to my training as an economist.
First, the structure of core training in the FSU program intertwines both theoretical modeling and data analysis. In any doctoral program in economics, there is a tradeoff between theoretical and applied training due to significant time constraints. I am very grateful that the FSU approach attempts to challenge students in both areas. This approach in the econometric series has been particularly useful to me as a researcher. I was trained in the mathematical derivation of important results about bias, consistency, and other econometric concepts as well as identifying their impact in applied research and correctly implementing appropriate techniques. In discussions with students at other institutions, I learned that not all programs take this balanced approach to economic tools.
Second, the program also provides a vast amount of opportunities to engage in both research and teaching. Most of my classmates and I were engaged in research in one of the research centers at FSU even in the first year. There are several weekly workshops within the department that are very well attended and the scope of research is wide. I highly valued the opportunity to present dissertation research at these seminars where I received invaluable feedback from faculty. In addition to these opportunities, graduate students are introduced to teaching in the second year with a teaching workshop and an opportunity to be the sole instructor during the summer semester. This involves curriculum development, working with undergraduate students, and learning teaching skills. The training includes mock lectures with introductory students, sample curriculum resources, and thoughtful exchanges with experienced educators. Florida State has a very active learning style that kept me engaged as a student while developing research and teaching skills.
Finally, though I believe many programs can meet these training objectives, the quality of mentorship I received at FSU was superb. I could individually name a substantial number of professors in the department who made very specific contributions to my training. More generally, I consistently felt as a graduate student that professors had or made time for me, provided opportunities outside of the classroom to propel my career forward, invested a significant amount of effort in my success, and gave me exceptional advice and support while on the job market. Professors spent time asking about my research and suggesting resources or catching up with me in the break room, even if I'd only taken one field course with them. They took time in the evening to grab a beer during happy hour to just talk about economics and being an economist. They answered countless questions during the dissertation process. They made a considerable effort to know both my family and my career goals. I am confident that these collegial relationships are a crucial part of being successful in a program and successful as an economist.