Janet Currie, NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Awardee 2019

Janet Currie is the Henry Putnam Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in Princeton, NJ, United States. Currie’s research focuses on health and wellbeing, particularly of children. She addresses socioeconomic differences in health and access to health care, environmental threats to health, and mental health.

Children’s mental health is an area where new approaches to evaluating clinical practice are urgently needed. Worldwide 10 to 20 percent of children suffer from some form of mental disorder, which often have more harmful effects on children’s future education and employment prospects than common physical health problems. Hence, identifying the most effective treatments is critical. But there are an overwhelming number of treatments and psychotropic medications on the market that are not well tested in children, or that are not tested in children at all.

Janet Currie

The NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Award is enabling Currie to investigate whether administrative big data can be used to identify those therapies that are most promising for children with diagnoses of mental disorders, as well as those therapies that pose the highest risk of harm. Currie’s research project, Harnessing Big Data to Improve Children’s Mental Health Treatment, will use big data generated by the health care systems of various countries to better understand children’s mental health, aiming to improve the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of children with mental health conditions.

Janet Currie received a PhD in economics from Princeton University in 1988. She co-directs Princeton’s Center for Health and Wellbeing and the Program on Children at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Carolyn Shaw Bell Award for furthering the status of women in the economics profession, and honorary doctorates from the University of Zurich and the University of Lyon. She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, the Society of Labor Economists, and the Econometric Society.

For more information about Janet Currie, please see her faculty profile.

Antonio Rangel, NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Awardee 2019

Antonio Rangel is the Bing Professor of Neuroscience, Behavioral Biology, and Economics, and head faculty in residence at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, CA, United States. Rangel studies the computational and neurobiological basis of human decision making, employing a variety of tools from neuroscience, economics, psychology and computer science, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), among others.

Rangel and his team are trying to understand how the brain assigns value to various options when faced with a choice, identifying the regions of the brain that encode those decisions. They are also investigating how the workings of the decision-making system change in more complex forms of choice, such as decisions involving self-control or altruism.

Antonio Rangel (Photo: Bill Youngblood)

The NOMIS Distinguished Scientist Award is supporting Rangel as he further investigates decision making. His project, Using Triangulation to Characterize the Neurocomputational Basis of Simple Choice, aims to advance our understanding of the neurocomputational basis of simple decisions, such as choosing between an apple and an orange, by investigating these types of choices in rodents, monkeys and humans.

Rangel has been president of the Society for Neuroeconomics, a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and a national fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the recipient of the Mentor Recognition Award from the University of California, San Diego, the Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching, the Allyn Young Prize for Excellence in Teaching from Harvard, and the CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation, among others.

Antonio Rangel received a PhD in economics from Harvard University in 1998. He was a faculty member at Stanford University from 1998 to 2006, as well as a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research from 1999 to 2007. He has been at Caltech since 2006, when he began focusing his research on decision neuroscience. Rangel has previously served as the director of Caltech’s NSF-IGERT PhD Program in Behavioral and Social Neuroscience, and as co-director of the Caltech Brain Imaging Center. He was appointed Bing Professor of Neuroscience, Behavioral Biology, and Economics in 2013 and has been head faculty in residence since 2018.

For more information about Antonio Rangel and his work, please see his faculty profile.

Biodiversity Revisited project advances with steering committee meeting at ETH Zurich

Boston University: “Najam Chairs ‘Biodiversity Revisited’ Meeting at ETH-Zurich”

Adil Najam, Dean of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, chaired a February 1, 2019 steering committee meeting at ETH-Zurich of a major project by the Luc Hoffman Institute entitled “Biodiversity Revisited: Sparking A New Approach To Research For The Biosphere.”

Photo: Boston University

The project convenes interdisciplinary experts in an intensive collaborative research process to critically evaluate what has come before – and to think creatively about the future of the science and policy that underpin biodiversity conservation. Biodiversity Revisited will create a new research agenda for society to effectively sustain the biosphere.

The goal of Biodiversity Revisited is to critically examine the biodiversity narrative and consider what it would take to move closer to a new, innovative agenda around sustaining the biosphere. The committee will explore what such a framing would look like and what its new science would encompass.

continue reading article

NOMIS Professor Carlos Alós-Ferrer Appointed Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Economic Psychology

Carlos Alós-Ferrer (photo: Marco Blessano)

Carlos Alós-Ferrer, NOMIS Professor for Decision and Neuroeconomic Theory at the University of Zurich, has taken on the role or Editior-in-Chief of the Journal of Economic Psychology. The journal focuses on understanding behavioral, in particular psychological, aspects of economic phenomena and processes on different levels of aggregation, from the household and the individual consumer to the macro level of whole nations, e.g. economic behavior in connection with inflation, unemployment, taxation, economic development, as well as consumer information and economic behavior in the market place.

NOMIS researcher Jesús Crespo publishes “Climate, conflict and forced migration” in Global Environmental Change

Jesús Crespo (Photo: Stanislav Jenis)


Despite the lack of robust empirical evidence, a growing number of media reports attempt to link climate change to the ongoing violent conflicts in Syria and other parts of the world, as well as to the migration crisis in Europe. Exploiting bilateral data on asylum seeking applications for 157 countries over the period 2006–2015, we assess the determinants of refugee flows using a gravity model which accounts for endogenous selection in order to examine the causal link between climate, conflict and forced migration. Our results indicate that climatic conditions, by affecting drought severity and the likelihood of armed conflict, played a significant role as an explanatory factor for asylum seeking in the period 2011–2015. The effect of climate on conflict occurrence is particularly relevant for countries in Western Asia in the period 2010–2012 during when many countries were undergoing political transformation. This finding suggests that the impact of climate on conflict and asylum seeking flows is limited to specific time period and contexts.

Read the article

NOMIS researcher Wolfgang Fengler pens Brookings Institution blog, “Can higher mortality be a sign of progress?”

On January 1, 2019, as we entered the last year of the decade, over 395,000 babies were born, more than half in Asia and around a third in Africa. What will their life look like? How long will they live?

In many ways, these children can consider themselves lucky. While global news headlines can make us believe that everything is getting worse, the opposite is true, especially if you project these children’s lives forward. They will be healthier, wealthier, and better educated than their peers in previous generations. They will also live longer. A girl born today can expect to live 80 years (the world average for girls). In South Korea or Japan, the expectation is 97 years, which means a girl born there today will most likely make it comfortably into the next century (see population.io where you can also check out your own life expectancy).

Never has life expectancy been so high, which means more and older people. The increase in life expectancy is mostly because of a sharp decline in child mortality, but also thanks to improvements in longevity. That means more people alive at any point in time: Even though the number of children has stabilized at around 2 billion, the world’s population is still growing rapidly thanks to a swelling number of adults and elderly.

. . . Continue reading the blog

Wolfgang Fengler is lead economist in Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation at the World Bank in Vienna, and volunteer at the World Data Lab.