17: Michel Grosz

Department

Economics

Program and Year of Study

PhD, 6th year (graduating in June!) 

Previous degrees and colleges

BA Economics, Pomona College

MS Economics, UC Davis

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and grew up in Van Nuys, a neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Where do you live now?

West Davis

What's your favorite spot in Davis?

It’s not technically Davis, but Pedrick’s Produce, which is a great farmstand in Dixon. I drive out there every Saturday morning, taking the scenic route through the fields along County Road 98. 

How do you relax?

I’m on the local master’s swim team, Davis Aquatic Masters. The pool is only a few blocks from my office and I go as many times a week as I can. It’s nice to shut off my brain and swim for a while each day. 

What was the last book you read for pleasure?

I just finished reading a few books by the art critic Robert Hughes, about American art (American Visions), modern art (The Shock of the New) and the Spanish artist Goya (Goya). Right now I’m reading Working by Studs Terkel, which is a series of interviews with all kinds of people about their jobs. It feels a bit too similar to my own work for me, but it’s good enough that I don’t mind. 

What was the last film you saw at the theater?

Rogue One

Research interests

I’m interested in how the labor market has changed over the past few decades, and how education and training programs can help people connect with jobs. 

Dissertation title or topic

Community Colleges and the Labor Market

Please share a surprising or noteworthy fact or finding from your research

In one of my dissertation papers I find that the economic value of finishing the degree is huge, but only half of the people who are admitted to programs actually show up.

Which professor or class inspired you to pursue graduate studies?

Fernando Lozano at Pomona College, a labor economist who studies immigration. We initially connected because we both speak Spanish and will put off work to watch soccer (he wrote a paper about it). He really pushed me to take on independent study opportunities during college summers and to apply for research jobs after college. I try to be a good mentor and advisor like him whenever I get the chance.

Which scholarly text do you wish you had written? Why?

I’ve been really interested in a series of papers by David Autor on how the types of tasks workers do on the job have changed over the past 50 years, and what that has meant for income inequality and a whole host of other important outcomes. 

Which other researchers at UC Davis are doing work that particularly interests you?

I’ve been really fortunate to be affiliated with the UC Davis Center for Poverty Research during my whole time here. I’ve met affiliated faculty and students from all over the university (economics, sociology, education, law, psychology, human development), so it’s hard to just pick one or two researchers!

What’s the best thing about being a grad student?

It’s a privilege to feel so personally invested in the work I do all day. 

What's the worst?

The job market is pretty stressful.

If you weren’t a grad student, what would you be doing?

I had a job at a policy research firm prior to graduate school. I’d probably still be there.

Finally, please ask yourself a question

Invisibility or flying?

Flying.

 

—May 2017

 

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