Professor Sascha Becker

Shirin Rai

What motivated you to work with the Monash Warwick Alliance?

After working for nine years at Warwick, I was approached by Monash to join their Economics Department. While moving continents would usually be an enormous challenge, the Monash-Warwick Alliance offered the opportunity to have a joint appointment, in my case the larger share being at Monash, while keeping a part-time appointment at Warwick. Together with other academics with joint appointments, I am honoured to represent both institutions at the same time.

What are your top three collaboration achievements so far?

First, it's a pleasure to be involved, as a senior advisor, in the Applied Young Economist Webinar. This initiative, started by Ashani Amarasinghe from Monash and my Warwick PhD student Ivan Yotzov, is a platform for junior academics (PhD students, PostDocs and young Assistant Professors) to present their work. AYEW covers all time zones on the planet, a benefit of Monash and Warwick being in such different time zones. So far, more than 100 junior economists have presented their work in this global webinar.

Second, we are now organizing the third Monash-Warwick-Zurich "Text as Data" workshop, which brings together social scientists using text as a novel source of data in their statistical analysis. The workshop is growing bigger and bigger!

Third, I wouldn't call it an achievement, as it is an honour as part of my job, but I do enjoy supervising PhD students at both institutions.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has stopped them from coming for extended visits, which would be (and will be, once the pandemic is over!) a great benefit of the Alliance.

What do you hope to ultimately achieve through your collaboration?

I think that Monash and Warwick can achieve a lot by continuing to collaborate. With borders reopening post-pandemic, I hope that we can do even more together across the two institutions while at the same time keeping the benefits of increased online collaboration which we were forced to adopt with COVID.

Can you share one fun fact about yourself or your work?

Whether it's fun, I don't know, but I just presented a paper at a Zoom conference in Boston at 2am to 4am Australian time, on early Sunday morning. We academics work crazy hours sometimes. But on balance, in this case, I preferred getting up at night, and -- after catching some sleep --, went outside at 25 degrees in the Australian summer, compared to being in Boston at minus 15 degrees in the US winter.

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