1. When and why did you decide to pursue an academic career?
I was an undergraduate at the university, in Minnesota. I had a very strong research tradition there. First I got interested in history and then I started to realize how important economics and politics was, so I got very interested in studying those topics. From there, I basically took some courses in the graduated school and the rest is history.
2. What are the most satisfying aspects of being a scholar?
I like to discover new things and participating in a research community. That is why I’m very excited of being here (at Uniandes) to discuss my own research and hear about what other people are doing. I also really like the process of communicating the research to the students. I think that the sort of idea of trying to solve a problem is a very important skill and students don’t normally get that on their education, so I really like to bring the research ideas and the methodologies to teach them as well.
3. What other research areas would you like to develop in the future?
I’ve done a lot of research in transportation improvements, in economic development, and history. I’ve done a lot of research on public and private ownership in transportation systems. I’ve done that, mostly, in European contexts, but I would like to study those in more internationally contexts and do more of a comparable analysis. For example, how was the transportation system developed and managed in Colombia, Argentina, India and Turkey? And try to see how it differs across countries. I like to export the techniques and develop from European contexts to other places.
4. Please tell us a special anecdote from your academic life.
5. How does your work contribute to the society as a whole?
First, I would say, transportation improvements affect a lot of people. In my research, I try to understand what are the long-term effects in transportation. When we think about transportation projects today, we have some insights of how they might affect the economy in the distant future. I also think that history is a laboratory of examples of how to organize infrastructure, political systems, trade and organizations. So I study that in the past and learn that from some bad and good decisions that were made. I try to replicate the good decisions and avoid the bad ones.
6. How would you describe your teaching philosophy?
My ideal teaching situation is where I can work with one-on-one students and also have them work in small groups to try to develop ideas together. My least favorite, is a lecture situation. I try to organize classes were students have individual projects and group projects and more critical thinking. I like to develop those skills. I think that’s the most important skills that you get during your undergraduate degree. For graduate students, I try to develop them into researchers so they can understand how to develop a nice project, how to work with others and how to disseminate their ideas.
7. What do you learn the most from the interaction with your students?
8. During your visit, what surprised you about Colombia?
One thing is the geography, is very imposing here. I’m also a bit surprised on how huge and diverse Bogota is. Actually, I want to learn more about what’s happening in different parts of the city. And the people are very friendly and professional, so it has been great to interact with them.
9. After your visit, what do you take from Colombia back home?
10. What would you highlight from your visit to Universidad de los Andes School of Management?
There is a real creative set of programs here. I like the different types of master programs, I think that they are very useful, and the executive programs looked to be very innovative.