Vadim Marmer is an Associate Professor here at the Vancouver School of Economics. He came to UBC in 2005 after completing his Ph.D. at Yale University. His main area of research is econometrics, where he has been working on topics of misspecification, weak identification, estimation and inference in auctions, and nonlinear and non-stationary time series. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in econometrics.
I have several projects going on, but if I had to pick one, it would be the research on identifying and testing collusions in auctions, which is something I have been doing for a while. It is a combination of econometrics and microeconomic theory, applied to data. I find it interesting, the intersection of these two parts of economics, and applying empirical analysis to it.
For me, it’s figuring out and discovering new things by yourself. So you dig and dig constantly to find something new!
My undergraduate studies were in economics, but I actually decided to study it by accident! I tried different things and one of them was economics, which I liked. So I decided to stay with economics, which I found fascinating. I was sure I was going to do a masters in economics, because I wanted to know more and keep on learning, and in terms of employment, many positions required masters degrees. I actually worked in the industry, with the Central Bank in Israel, but working there can be repetitive. So I decided to pursue a PhD, and as a professor, you get much more freedom, and constantly learn and discover new things.
It’s academic freedom. Being a professor is a lot like being a student; you learn new things, and it doesn’t stop, because you always need something more, you have to learn more everyday. You solve problems, you go to lectures, and it’s all the same as being a student! The difference is that now, you can choose the problems you want to solve, you can choose what you find interesting and solve it, and solving new problems and learning everyday is fun. So if you like being a student, you’ll like being a professor. But this is a challenge as well, because as a student, the problems you see on the board already have a solution. But as a professor, you choose problems that don’t have the answers, so solving can be struggling. It’s a double-edged sword. It’s both of these elements, you enjoy being able to discover new things, but you struggle with it as well.
The idea of applying mathematical methods to study human behavior is fascinating to me. What I am studying, econometrics, involves using data and mathematics to uncover the truth, which is even more fascinating!
In a way, my job has to be a hobby itself, because you need to enjoy it in order to keep doing it. But outside economics, I like photography, and I go to classical music concerts a lot.
My PhD supervisor, Donald Andrews, was one of my biggest inspirations. He is one of the most influential econometricians. He actually did his undergraduate studies at UBC, and now he’s a professor at Yale.