Catherine Eckel Named University of Arizona’s 2008 Wilson Scholar
Dr. Catherine Eckel, a professor of economics in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, was named the University of Arizona’s 2008 Wilson Scholar.
The Wilson Scholar program brings prominent professors at other universities to the UA campus. As the Wilson Scholar, Eckel spent a week working with students and faculty in the university’s economics department.
Eckel was chosen not only because she is one of the nation’s top scholars in the field of behavioral economics, but also because she made a lasting impression on UA economics Professor Martin Dufwenberg, director of the university’s Economic Science Laboratory and Institute for Behavioral Economics, more than a decade ago.
“Fresh out of grad school, I first met Catherine in 1996 at a conference in Amsterdam. Her presentation there was exciting and she generously interacted with me and with other young researchers. She's been one of my heroes among experimentalists ever since,” said Dufwenberg.
During her week as the visiting scholar, Eckel gave a lecture, “13 Ways of Looking at Risk Aversion,” taught an undergraduate class on experimental economics and met with graduate students to provide feedback on their research projects.
“It was a marvelous experience now to have her visit my experimental economics class and see her inspire and interact with my students much like she once did with me. The students were fascinated by the research topics she introduced them to, and the discussions were lively,” said Dufwenberg.
Eckel’s research is in the area of experimental economics and how social interaction affects economic exchange. Her work is interdisciplinary and incorporates concepts from psychology and sociology into economic research. She enjoyed the opportunity to share her insights with the UA students and faculty.
“Often as academics we focus on one narrow, specific topic at a time. I enjoy opportunities like this that force me to step back and really think about my research from a broader perspective,” said Eckel.
Eckel has been at UT Dallas since 2005. She is the director of the UT Dallas Center for Behavioral and Experimental Economic Science, where research subjects participate in lab experiments and are paid based on the decisions they make. The lab experiments help Eckel and other faculty and student researchers understand how individuals make decisions in different settings. Students and staff who would like to earn money and help science by participating in these experiments should visit the center Web site http://cbees.utdallas.edu.
Previously Eckel was a professor of economics at Virginia Tech, where she directed the Laboratory for the Study of Human Thought and Action. She has also served as the economics program director at the National Science Foundation. She is the former president of the Southern Economic Association and has served as the co-editor of the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. Her Ph.D. is from the University of Virginia.