Enid native Melissa Dell wins top medal in economics

Enid native and Harvard economics professor Melissa Dell was recently awarded the John Bates Clark Medal by the American Economic Association. (Photo provided)

ENID, Okla. — Enid native and Harvard professor of economics Melissa Dell has been awarded the John Bates Clark Medal by the American Economic Association (AEA).

The Clark Medal is awarded each April "to that American economist under the age of forty who is judged to have made the most significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge," according to an AEA press release.

Dell got her start in education at Pleasant Vale Elementary School and then Oklahoma Bible Academy, where she graduated in 2001.

She went on to study at Harvard University, where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics in 2005, then on to a master's of philosophy degree from Oxford University.

After studying at Oxford, Dell earned her doctorate of philosophy from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2012. Since 2012 Dell has served as a professor at Harvard.

In selecting Dell for the Clark Medal the AEA noted her groundbreaking work in studying the effects of national policy on the lives of everyday people.

"Through her pioneering careful and creative data collection and empirical work, Melissa Dell has advanced our understanding of the role state and other institutions play in the daily lives of and economic outcomes of ordinary people," according to the AEA press release. "In doing so she has also given a new energy and direction to the entire field of political economy and development.

"Thanks to her ingenuity, rigor, and curiosity, Dell has made major contributions to the field of political economy of development, and has inspired countless others," according to the press release. "She has been a transformative force and is more than worthy recipient of the Clark Medal."

Dell was featured as the Clark Medal recipient in the April 30 issue of "The Economist," where she was lauded for her work, which the authors asserted "has changed how economists think about development."

The Clark Medal and recent accolades in "The Economist" are the latest in a long line of awards for Dell, including being named by the International Monetary Fund as the youngest of 25 economists under the age of 45 shaping thought about the global economy in 2014; an Alfred Sloan Fellowship in 2016; a $364,000 National Science Foundation grant, also in 2016, to study the relationship between military and civic action; and a $200,000 Carnegie Fellowship in 2018 to study the long-term effects of education on women in Indonesia.

Dell also was named one of "the decade's eight best young economists" by "The Economist" in December 2018, and was awarded the 2019 Elaine Bennett research prize by the AEA.

The full announcement of Dell's Clark Medal, with more detail on her research, is available through the AEA at https://www.aeaweb.org/about-aea/honors-awards/bates-clark/melissa-dell.

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Neal is health, military affairs and religion reporter and columnist for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @jamesnealwriter, and online at jamesrneal.com.
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