Seven Questions with Jessamyn Schaller
Assistant Professor of Economics
Department of Economics
Ph.D. in Economics, University of California, Davis
“My goal as a teacher is to give students tools to evaluate current events and public policy from an objective economic standpoint.”
What brought you to the Eller College?
I saw all the great research the Economics faculty was engaged in and their broad range of interests, from game theory to environmental topics to economic history. I felt that I could contribute and be a new asset to the department with my own expertise in labor, public, and health economics. I was also drawn to Tucson, with its sunny climate and spectacular scenery.
How long have you been at Eller?
I arrived in the fall of 2012, after receiving my Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis.
What is your current research, and what most excites you about that area of focus?
Recently I have been focusing on the economic determinants of child health. I have been researching the impact of economic conditions and parental employment on child physical and mental health outcomes and family behaviors related to child health (such as healthcare utilization, child maltreatment, and immunization choices). I am particularly interested in exploring how changes in labor market opportunities for mothers have different effects on family dynamics and children’s outcomes than changes in labor market opportunities for fathers. I am also looking at the degree of heterogeneity in the effects of economic shocks by family socioeconomic status and whether social safety net programs such as Medicaid and unemployment insurance mediate these effects.
What are you currently teaching, and what do you most enjoy about teaching?
I teach upper-division labor and public economics courses for undergraduates at Eller. I also teach a second-year Ph.D. course in labor economics, with an emphasis on empirical techniques for applied economic analysis. My goal as a teacher is to give students tools to evaluate current events and public policy from an objective economic standpoint. I love seeing students make the connection between the models and research that I discuss in class and phenomena that they encounter outside of class.
How do you bring your research into your teaching?
I use research examples to guide my undergraduate students through the processes of thinking like an economist. In particular I want them to learn to develop a theoretical model to explain individual or market behavior, to use the theoretical model to make predictions about what we should see in the real world, to use data to test those predictions, and to think about the implications of this analysis for welfare and policy. We work through the same process in my graduate class, with more emphasis on the challenges that come along with trying to identify causal effects.
Beyond research and teaching, what are your passions?
The abundance of outdoor activities and the sunshine are my favorite things about living in Tucson. I love spending time outside walking, running, hiking, or just sitting in the backyard.
What does the Eller Experience mean to you?
To me, the Eller Experience is created by the quality and diversity of the research and teaching at the college. The wide range of research interests and professional experience among the faculty contribute to a strong intellectual climate and a great student experience.
Photo of Jessamyn Schaller by Eller College of Management.