Edinboro Professor co-chairing federal reserve contest

Category:  News
Wednesday, April 17th, 2019 at 11:03 PM
Edinboro Professor co-chairing federal reserve contest by Shayma Musa
Photo: Jamie Heinrich

Naming a child in China is serious business.

The controversial “one-child” policy, which was enforced until recent reform to the law, meant that families had only one chance at giving their child a name that would, according to Chinese tradition, decide their destiny in life. That’s why Dr. Jingze Jiang’s father had her name picked out long before she was born.

“My father actually picked my name before he knew what my gender was; he picked two words from Darwin’s theory of evolution, which says that species will compete and that only the best species will be selected. So he picked two words from that theory: one is competition and the other is selection.  When people in China saw my name, they all thought that I was a boy. My dad knew that there is a lot of competition in life, and he hoped that I would be the one that would be selected, not unfairly, but because I’m good enough to be selected.”

She continued: “I appreciate his trust for me, but I kind of go the opposite way around. I prefer harmonious environments instead of competition.”

A brief look at Jiang’s résumé speaks more to her competitive side: in 2005 at the age of 22, she was the youngest doctoral candidate in her class at Washington State University. She managed to complete the program in four years, while also completing a master’s in statistics at the same time. Currently, she is a professor in the business and economics department at EU, while actively working on research into the economics of renewable energy, serving on various university wide and departmental committees, and acting as a mentor for women in business through the ATHENA PowerLink program.

Oh yeah, and she just became the Co-Chair for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s 2019 undergraduate research competition.

“I and the co-chair of this competition knew each other before, but obviously we had to apply and then I was selected. I found out earlier this year (about being selected), and first of all, being selected was very surprising. I was so shocked when I found out. I’m glad that they recognized my work by choosing me for this position,” said Jiang.

For a while though, she didn’t even think she would make it through her doctorate.


The Journey to Economics

Like many go through, Jiang initially started out on a different career path than where she’d end up.

“My undergraduate degree was actually in finance,” Jiang said. “When I took my first economics course I realized that my passion lies in economics. Because for a long time, I thought that finance is economics and economics is finance, but that is actually not the case. Finance deals more with the financial market and investments, and economics deals more with decision-making and how to best allocate scare resources. Our jobs as economists are not just about money.”

That class was also Jiang’s first exposure to the topic that she would eventually dedicate her academic career to: environmental economics.

“In that class that I took in college, there was one chapter about the Chinese government implementing a tax in order to discourage companies from dumping chemicals that pollute the water. It was then that I realized that economics is not just about money, but that economics could also impact public policy in order for people to behave more environmentally friendly.”

With that in mind, Jiang decided that she would apply to doctoral programs in economics straight out of college, forgoing the usual route of getting a master’s degree first. “I went backwards. It was in my second year of my Ph.D. that I talked to my advisor and told him, ‘I don’t have a master’s degree, but I’m really good at math, I think that statistics and economics would be a good combination.’”

“I think that the beneficial part for me is that I knew what I wanted from a very young age,” Jiang said. “My whole family is made up of medical doctors and my mom asked me to be a doctor, and I said ‘No!’”

Jiang actually drew her inspiration from her grandfather, who, although he wasn’t a economist, fed into her spirit for research.

“My grandfather, even though he was a medical doctor, did experiments on radiation and how that radiation affects the health of humans. It’s unethical nowadays, but he used to do experiments on monkeys and he always had a student following him around. So when I was young, I really looked up to him and I asked him, ‘If I want to be like you, what should I do?’”

Her grandfather advised her to get the highest degree that you can and from that moment on, Jiang made it her goal to earn a doctorate so that she could follow her passions.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s 2019 undergraduate research competition is being held on May 3, presented by The University of Akron and Edinboro. Undergraduates are “invited to submit poster presentations of their research in economics and finance,” according to clevelandfed.org.

Shayma Musa | eupnews.spectator@gmail.com

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