Taryn Dinkelman photo
“I am still amazed at how much time faculty members invested in their students”

Taryn Dinkelman

Assistant Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, Department of Economics and Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University.

Ph.D. 2008 Economics, University of Michigan

Research Interests
Dr. Dinkelman's main current interests are in infrastructure in developing countries (both determinants of access and effects of this infrastructure in changing the set of activities that poor people can undertake) and the role of information in education choices for students in middle income countries. She has worked on the relationship between rural household electrification and employment in rural areas of South Africa, as well as on the effects of new minimum wage legislation on domestic workers in that country. Currently, she is working on a project that aims to understand the economic and political factors affecting cell phone infrastructure rollout in Malawi and the employment effects of getting new access to a communications technology. In a new field experiment that she is conducting with a Chilean (UM PhD) co-author, she is investigating the role that information about future financial aid eligibility may play in motivating kids to provide more effort in school.
PSC's Influence on Career
Having a desk at PSC and participating in the activities of the center was an incredibly enriching intellectual experience during my time at Michigan. Not only did I have the chance to deepen my expertise in Economics (my home department) by interacting with the talented and dedicated faculty and students associated with the center, I also learned an appreciation for the nature of work undertaken by other social scientists, particularly demographers. Perhaps most immediately, the financial support that I received through a center-based fellowship was critical for me being able to make research trips to South Africa, to collect the data on which my dissertation was based. I also had the chance to be involved in ongoing field survey work in Cape Town and in using the "hot off the press" data from this survey in several research papers.

I expect that in the future, the way that I interact with PhD students will be strongly affected by the dynamic relationships between faculty and students that I witnessed and benefited from at PSC. I am still amazed at how much time faculty members invested in their students - in actually training their students to be first-class researchers.
Memories of PSC
In the final year of my PhD, I spent so much time in my PSC cubicle that David Lam offered to lend me a sleeping bag if it would be more comfortable! I almost took him up on the offer several days during that year. As I sit in my office as a new assistant professor, one of the things I miss the most about PSC is the tremendous cameradie of the students in my bay, all at various points in the PhD, encouraging and supporting each other in their daily struggles of "re-search". It was never a lonely place.
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