Adding to a truly interdisciplinary academic environment
Meet GPS’s new assistant professor, Munseob Lee, and learn how the Asian Financial Crisis of the 1990s created a passion for economic research
By Amy Robinson | GPS News
Growing up in South Korea, Munseob Lee remembers vividly the Asian Financial Crisis because his father worked at Daewoo — the second largest conglomerate at the time that went bankrupt during the crisis.
“I saw how macro-level change can affect individuals, the
Lee added that back then, he didn’t know exactly what was happening but studying economics gave him the answer. The oil price increased because Korean currency has been depreciated.
Having studied economics from the start — first at Seoul National University and then at the University of Chicago — Lee is ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work as a newly minted assistant professor of economics at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS).
When asked about working alongside leading economists and political scientists, he shared that the truly interdisciplinary environment, where quantitative researchers from across disciplines share ideas, technical expertise and a common interest in rigorous research, is beyond exciting.
“My research on international economics and firm dynamics
With many research projects underway, Lee explained in terms for the non-economist, that many business people and policymakers believe a major source of economic growth is “creative destruction,” by which newly developed products replace outdated ones. However, little is known about this type of growth empirically due to a lack of product-level data.
By using big data, Lee is able to fill in the gap. He goes on to explain that by exploiting 100 billion observations collected from grocery stores in the U.S., one can verify that creative destruction is a key for
When asked about his approach to designing these types of research projects he went on to add that in many cases, controlled experimentation for firms is extremely difficult to implement or can be unethical.
“That’s why we sometimes rely on natural experiments, where firms exposed to the treatment are chosen randomly by nature or institution. My research on Korean public procurement is a good example,” Lee said.
He went on to explain that in order to prevent corruption, the Korean government somewhat randomly selects one vendor among a few hundred candidates for small-sized contracts. Regardless of its purpose, this system becomes a great laboratory for Lee to track the growth of randomly selected vendors, and to prove
As for the classroom, Lee will be teaching “Fiscal and Monetary Policy” and “The Korean Economy” this year, and he plans to bring real-world examples to the curriculum.
“I strongly encourage students to participate and share their views and experiences. The classroom is a microcosm of GPS, a truly international and interdisciplinary environment. By sharing ideas, I will learn from students as much as students will be learning from me,” said Lee with a smile.
He added that academic advising for graduate students is also a very important form of teaching. The goal should be a successful transition from a consumer of knowledge to a producer.
“Both in Seoul and Chicago, I have been very lucky to work with great advisors. I understand how important it is that a professor be available and supportive of his students as they navigate the challenges
Newly settled in San Diego, his impressions so far are positive. The city has great people and food, he said, though he is still waiting for the winter to see the real difference between Chicago and San Diego.
“It may sound funny but I just realized that I can swim. I haven’t been swimming since childhood, and I couldn’t resist the nice weather and the swimming pool next door,” he said, laughing. “Let’s see if I can resist the ocean.”
3 questions with Assistant Professor Munseob Lee
What are the real-world impacts of your research?
My aim is to understand sources of economic growth. I exploit big data to investigate heterogeneity behind aggregated macro variables. By finding regularity from complex data, I hope to inform scholars and the policy community.
What skills or understanding do you hope students leave your class with?
I believe the job of a teacher is to provide long-lasting toolkits and engage students in creative and critical thinking. My goal is to make students think like an economist in daily life issues and real world problems.
What is your academic focus?
I focus on firm dynamics and its implication to economic growth.
- Is the MPP the right degree for me?
- Through knowledge we gain understanding
- Mapping a cleaner San Diego
- A day in the life of a NCAA Woman of the Year Honoree
- Nirupama Rao defines the future of Indo-Pacific relations
- Winter reading for the bibliophile
- Alumni nominated spotlight: Booz Allen Hamilton consultant Maura Deignan
- Leading from the front
- Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies expands research on drug war and migrant crisis
- A marriage of policy and advocacy
- Decarbonizing the grid
- Sylff Fellows translate vision into reality
- Stanford study finds poor air quality responsible for one in five infant deaths in sub‑Saharan Africa
- Office hours: Associate Professor Jennifer Burney
- Class of 2018 graduates embody global citizenry and leadership
- Science Policy Fellows program nurtures effective interdisciplinary scholars
- Building cross-border relationships
- Geoengineering a greener future
- Sponsored Student Spotlight: Adnan Saygili
- Celebrating academic excellence
- Painting the picture of an MPP student’s day
- Gregory Lee looks at the future of digital health and technology
- A sustainable seafood hero
- Pass the pen: Alumnae nominated spotlight
- Campus recognizes alumni as leaders and changemakers
- Innovation in mobile technology
- Ian Johnson chronicles the rise of religion in China
- Writing the book on China’s economic policy
- Broadening horizons through international experience at BCG
- Office hours: Professor Gordon McCord
- New evening option for working professionals
- China's infrastructure investment as a development strategy
- Rethinking the war on drugs in Mexico
- Creating theoretical frameworks
- Nurturing future leaders at TechPolis
- The future is female
- Jamal Russell Black on Veridian Analytics' entrepreneurial spirit
- Love is in the air
- A day in the life of an MCEPA student
- Health and human capital
- Eduardo Porter finds journalistic inspiration at GPS
- Technology assessment at the nexus of STEM and policy
- IGCC receives coveted UC research grant
- Battery storage at the center of energy policy
- Researching how humans and the environment interact
- Office hours: Professor Ulrike Schaede
- Fighting wildfires with web based imagery
- United we dream
- Our 2017-2018 Boren Fellows
- Applying game theory to study behaviors
- Students craft views on climate change at COP23
- Molding future technical experts
- Why GPS: A niche in life
- The art of entrepreneurship
- Solar energy and pursuing the policy dream
- Social entrepreneur and first time author Ken Davenport ’90 of “The Two Gates”
- Why GPS: Discovering a passion for all things math
- Our 2017-18 Dean’s Fellows
- A Living, Learning Laboratory
- A ‘Prep Program’ for success, before day one
- Office hours: Professor Gordon Hanson
- Adding to a truly interdisciplinary academic environment
- Why GPS: Apply now and figure it out later
- Sponsored Student Spotlight: Noritoshi Kurokawa
- West Coast-Trained for a Washington, D.C. Think Tank
- Linked in Latin America
- Facilitating a ‘family affair’
- Nico Ravanilla retreats to Oxford for research
- 2016 alumni remember their first year in the real world
- Pioneering international excellence
- Research at the border: A living laboratory of transformation