John Gibson (12-13)Georgia State University
I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Economics Department at Georgia State University. I truly view my time at Florida State University as one of the best times of my life. When I arrived in Tallahassee in the summer of 2007 I had only a vague idea of what I was planning to do. Basically, I just knew that economics and mathematics fascinated me and that I needed to learn more. The faculty at FSU were certainly up to that challenge, and over the next several years they helped shape me into the economist I am today. In the next few paragraphs I hope to convey why I am so fond of FSU and why I believe it is an excellent choice for prospective graduate students.
First, the culture of the PhD program is unique. Traditionally, econ programs pride themselves on their competitive nature. While the first and second year course work at FSU is very challenging, and several students each year realize that the path is not for them, the faculty strongly encourage collaboration and teamwork among students. Due to this collaborative focus, it is possible to build lasting friendships within your cohort rather than rivalries. Furthermore, the faculty are very accommodating to student questions, both related to coursework and to potential research ideas. It was clear to me early on that the faculty expected a high level of performance from us. However, it was also clear that they wanted us to succeed, and they were willing to go the extra mile to help ensure we reached our full potential.
Second, FSU offers a wide-range of specialties covering topics from experimental and applied microeconomics to macroeconomics. For example, my research focus is macroeconomics with an emphasis on financial and labor market frictions. Along with the core macro-theory classes, FSU offers a wide range of macro-electives such as Financial Economics, Monetary Economics, and Computational Methods. Classes such as these expose students to deeper issues within their field and can eventually lead to a dissertation topic. For me, this happened during conversations with my professor, Milton Marquis, following Financial Economics II lectures on the macroeconomic implications of fluctuations in credit access. This peaked my interest on how the tightening of firm-level credit constraints during economic downturns may alter the equilibrium outcomes in traditional business cycle models. The work that followed from these conversations ultimately became the core of my dissertation.
Along with a wide variety of course offerings, the department also hosts several seminar series and workshops. Students are expected to attend these events as they provide a nice introduction to current economic research. During my time at FSU, the senior Macroeconomic faculty developed a Macro readings group. This group was designed to provide junior faculty and graduate students with a venue to present working papers and even workshop less developed research ideas. Personally, I benefitted greatly from presenting early versions of my work for this group, and I found that the feedback I received from faculty helped me revise my research questions for the better.
Third and finally, FSU helped me develop as an educator, both at the undergraduate level and at the PhD level. While I received guidance from many faculty members, Milton Marquis and Manoj Atolia had an immeasurable impact on my development both as a researcher and as an educator. I learned directly through my interactions with them how to mentor PhD students and help guide them through research. This has been an invaluable skill as I work with my own PhD students at Georgia State University.
In closing, the economics department at Florida State University is an excellent place to learn more about economics, develop as researcher and educator, and you can even make lasting friendships along the way.