College of Social Sciences


Artie Zillante (05-06)

University of North Carolina, Charlotte

staffpic

I began the graduate program in Economics at Florida State University (FSU) in August 1999, and graduated with a PhD in August 2004.  I took my first job as an IFREE post-doctoral research fellow with the Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science at George Mason University, headed by Vernon Smith, in August 2004.  After 2 years at George Mason, I took an assistant professor position at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, where I teach PhD and Masters level Microeconomic Theory courses.

The education and experiences I received at FSU played a large role in attaining these positions.  Like most of my classmates, I received funding upon entering the program, and spent the first year working as a teaching assistant for large principles economics classes.  By my second year I was teaching my own sections of principles courses, and in my third year I received a research fellowship, working under the direction of Mark Isaac and Tim Salmon.  We collaborated on a project about ascending auctions, and produced two coauthored refereed publications from that collaboration.  Drs. Isaac and Salmon would eventually become two members of my dissertation committee, with Tom Zuehlke serving as the third departmental committee member.  While we have not collaborated on a project since then, mostly because I am in the process of developing my own body of work, I still seek advice and comments from them about research projects I am currently pursuing.  They are always ready to offer a comment - or a criticism, if need be.

In addition to my dissertation committee, the rest of the economics faculty is also supportive of the graduate students in the department.  One way they provide support is by attending graduate student seminars, in which the graduate student presents a formal presentation of his or her research, and the faculty critiques the presentation on both content and style.  One thing is for certain - if you are a graduate student at FSU and you want to present your work in front of the faculty there are ample opportunities for you.  Also, the faculty supports the graduate students through informal recommendations.  Students sometimes do not realize how much impact faculty outside their dissertation committee can have, but the FSU faculty is willing to recommend students with whom they are not currently working if that student has shown promise.  Finally, the faculty at FSU represents a broad range of interests in their research.  Most of the major fields and methodological approaches found in economics are represented, and many faculty members have interdisciplinary interests.  The exposure to the diversity of methodologies has helped me establish professional relationships with other faculty across universities and disciplines.

While it is important to form bonds with the faculty, it is equally important to form bonds with fellow graduate students.  After all, your classmates will be your colleagues for the next 30-40 years!  (It's amazing how many grad students do not realize that fact, or that some of the brightest undergrads that they teach may one day be their colleagues - or potential donors for their research!)  For the most part, there is a great deal of student cooperation.  In the early stages of the programs, when everyone takes the same classes, informal study groups tend to form.  Later, as the dissertation stage approaches, more formal readings groups may form with a few of the faculty.  As an example, there was no graduate course on experimental economics at FSU while I was there, but once a few students showed an interest we began meeting with some faculty for about an hour once every week, and we would discuss either our own current research or a paper in an area of our interest.  While people move across the country (or the world) after graduation, we still keep in touch through the wonders of modern communication, and whenever we attend the same conferences we try to get together for at least one evening.

So there you have it, 5 years (that's becoming the norm now, in case you didn't know) summed up in about 700 words.  In summary, the skills I acquired, the contacts I made, and the working relationships I formed while at FSU have been an enormous help to me as I have begun my academic career.  It should continue to be that way for future students.