The University of Notre Dame’s Department of Economics welcomes six new regular faculty members for the 2023-24 academic year: Victoria Barone, Jeff Biddle, Jefferey Denning, Christopher Mills, Heitor Pellegrina, and Niharika Singh! “We are delighted to welcome Vicky, Jeff, Jeff, Chris, Heitor, and Niha to Notre Dame. Their skills and interests contribute to our pre-existing research strengths in applied microeconomics and development. They will be teaching students across the spectrum – all the way from a first-year seminar to a graduate field class. Collectively, these new faculty also represent a nice mix of fresh Ph.D.s and more seasoned scholars. We couldn’t be happier to have them as part of the Notre Dame family,” stated Department Chair Eric Sims.
We asked each of our new faculty members to share a little bit about themselves:
Barone earned her BA in Economics from the Universidad Nacional de Cordoba, Argentina, her Master's from Torcuato Di Tella University, and her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is an applied microeconomist with interests in public and health economics. In her research, she combines structural estimation and reduced-form methods to study the optimal design of social insurance programs and the origins and unfolding of the opioid epidemic. She teaches intermediate microeconomics, which is her favorite class to teach. She believes that the most valuable lesson she can teach students is how to approach and rigorously think about the incentives that shape individual and social behavior. When asked why she chose Notre Dame, Barone said, "Honestly, I always had a gut feeling that this would be the best place to start my academic career. I think the department has a vibrant community of researchers with interests that align with my work and foster a great environment for incoming assistant professors to become great scholars. Also, I really appreciate that we have great female role models in the department, like Kasey, Lakshmi, Taryn, and Chloe. I have been a fan of their academic work and the work they do to improve the representation of women in economics."
Sims stated, “We are very fortunate to have a teacher-scholar of Vicky’s caliber joining the department. Her work on health is a great fit with some of our existing faculty, like Chris Cronin, Bill Evans, and Ethan Lieber. Vicky is also a decorated teacher from her days as a graduate student at UCLA.”
Prof. Biddle is joining the Notre Dame faculty after serving as a Professor of Economics at Michigan State University for over 30 years. Prior to that, he received a BA in Economics from West Virginia University and a Ph.D. in Economics from Duke University. One of Professor Biddle’s research interests is the intellectual history of economics, and his work in that area has been published in several articles and books. His current research in that field focuses on the development of empirical research methods in economics in the twentieth century. Professor Biddle has also done empirical research on a variety of topics in the field of labor economics, the results of which have appeared in journals such as the American Economic Review, the Journal of Political Economy, and the Journal of Labor Economics. He is currently looking at the labor market impact of the restrictions on immigration imposed by the U.S. in the 1920s. Of his move to Notre Dame, Biddle said, "Because two of my sons are graduates of Notre Dame, I know that it is an excellent institution that cares about the quality of undergraduate teaching. Notre Dame students are intelligent and motivated, and I look forward to teaching them."
Sims says, “Jeff is a world-renowned scholar who also has a real passion for educating young people. He brings a wealth of experience from his long tenure at Michigan State. Our faculty and students are going to really benefit from having Jeff around."
Jeff Denning earned his bachelor's degree at Brigham Young University and his Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin. He spent the last eight years as an assistant and associate professor at Brigham Young University. He researches the economics of education, often focusing on higher education and how people finance college enrollment. His work has appeared or is accepted in the American Economic Review, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, the Review of Economics and Statistics, American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, and the Journal of Human Resources, among others. He is affiliated with the National Bureau of Economic Research, CESifo, and IZA and is a coeditor at the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Of his move to Notre Dame, Denning said "I chose Notre Dame because it has great faculty working on important topics and excellent students. I really appreciate Notre Dame's community and unique place within American higher education."
Sims notes that “Jeff has emerged as one of the leading scholars of the economics of higher education, and his work is well aligned with Notre Dame’s unique mission. Our graduate students and faculty alike are going to really benefit from having him around. We are incredibly fortunate that he chose to come to Notre Dame.”
Christopher Mills is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Notre Dame and a member of the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO). Mills earned his Bachelor's degree from Cornell University and his Ph.D. at Princeton University. His research interests include labor and public economics, with a focus on service delivery to children and families and human-algorithm interaction. Mills writes, "I'm excited to join a department with kind and brilliant colleagues, driven students, and a collective team spirit. Furthermore, Notre Dame's institutional commitment to alleviating poverty through the Lab for Economic Opportunities and BIG Lab provides a special opportunity for collaboration, mentoring, and impact."
Sims knows that “Chris is an ideal fit for our department and for the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) in particular. He does cutting-edge research that is on the front lines of the fight against poverty. Chris exudes enthusiasm for his work, and comes highly recommended as a teacher from his Ph.D. days at Princeton. We are fortunate to have him.”
Heitor S. Pellegrina is a trade and development economist, with a particular focus on agriculture and environment resources. He earned his Bachelor and Master degrees from the University of São Paulo and his Ph.D. from Brown University. He spent six years in New York University Abu Dhabi as an Assistant Professor before joining the University of Notre Dame. His work has been published in the Journal of Political Economy, Journal of Development Economics, and the Journal of International Economics. Of his move to Notre Dame, Pellegrina said "I'm really excited to join Notre Dame and its amazing group of development economists. The sense of collegiality and dynamic energy within the department is truly remarkable. Furthermore, I find great inspiration in the university's mission to reduce poverty across the globe."
Sims stated that “Heitor comes to Notre Dame as an emerging leader in the areas of macro, trade, and development. He already has several prestigious publications, and many exciting projects. His work is a great bridge between our already strong macro, international, and development groups. We are delighted that we were able to land him.”
Singh graduated with a Bachelor's degree from McGill University and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. Her research interests are in labor and development economics, with a regional focus on the U.S. and South Asia. Singh is "excited to be joining a growing and tight-knit department. With both LEO and the BIG Lab housed in the department, I particularly look forward to contributing to and learning from colleagues and students thinking about anti-poverty efforts domestically and globally." Singh already has a publication in the American Economic Review, and a forthcoming article in American Economic Review: Insights.
Sims notes, “In just a few short years post-Ph.D., Niha already has some excellent publications and is doing exciting work in the areas of labor and development. She is a great fit for our applied micro and development groups."
About the Department of Economics
Internationally recognized for its contributions to academic research and economic policymaking, the Department of Economics at Notre Dame boasts more than fifty full-time faculty members, one of the largest undergraduate majors on campus, and a doctoral program with more than forty Ph.D. students. The department is committed to providing the highest quality instruction in modern economic analysis and to conducting innovative, policy-relevant research, all while fostering and contributing to the Catholic mission of the University of Notre Dame.