30: Rizki (Kiki) Nauli Siregar

Department

Economics

Program and year of study

PhD, 3rd year

Previous degrees and colleges

MA Economics, Boston University

BA Economics, Universitas Indonesia

Where did you grow up?

Jakarta, Indonesia

Where do you live now?

In a beautiful little cottage in Aggie Village

What's your favorite spot in Davis?

The Arboretum is always a sanctuary for me, and especially now I live just right next to it. I also love the Farmers’ Market for the feeling of being part of a warm community. Just a simple chat with the food-sellers can be so reenergizing, given that we can so easily “drown” in our own study. Recently, I started climbing and have been enjoying Rocknasium as well.

How do you relax?

I invest a lot of time in prayer. I really enjoy spending some me-time reading the Quran in the morning while sipping some tea. It makes me feel I have already accomplished half of my tasks for that day. I love cooking and trying new tastes, especially veggies (one of the things I love the most about living in Davis: fresh and amazing produce all year long!). I enjoy running as well.

What was the last book you read for pleasure?

It was Ini Mimpi Budi or This is Budi’s Dream. It is a compilation of short stories written by amateur writers from an online community called 30 Hari Bercerita in Indonesia. The community encourages people, especially the youth, to write. They hold an annual writing month in January in which anyone can participate by posting every day for 30 days on their personal Instagram accounts. This year they asked the participants to write a story that started with “Last night, Budi dreamt. He and his mother went to …”, in one of the 30 days of the writing month. The admins of the community then collected some of the best writings and published it into a book. Now, I am reading A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson and O by Eka Kurniawan.

What TV show are you currently binge-watching?

I rarely watch any TV shows (hahahaha).

Research interests

I am interested in the impact of international trade and technological change on labor markets, welfare and inequality.

Dissertation title or topic

I am still very early in my research but I’m working on the trade of services through online job marketplaces as an example of trade in tasks. 

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

Please ask me again in a year from now. I hope by that time I can give you some interesting findings. 

Which professor or class inspired you to pursue graduate studies?

Definitely the class with Professor Mari Pangestu and my undergraduate thesis supervisor Dr. M. Chatib Basri. The class was seminar in international trade back in my undergrad years. It was very interesting to learn about economic phenomena from theoretical and empirical papers and how we can apply it to the real world and policy making. At that time, the former was Minister of Trade and the latter was special staff to Minister of Finance and later on became Minister of Finance himself. So learning how academicians apply economics to policymaking directly was super interesting. In addition, I worked as an RA for Professor Gustav Papanek as my first job after graduating from undergrad. He has been my mentor for the past eight years. 

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

A combination of works by Professor Pol Antràs and Professor Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, which have motivated my own research interests. I like the way they work on modeling economic phenomena that are sometimes ahead of their time, while still keeping in mind the dynamics of the current real world. Their research looks at global value chains, economic geography, and inequality. I have been especially inspired by how they link international trade topics back to people.

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

Professor Robert C. Feenstra and Professor Giovanni Peri. Actually, it was in their classes that I realized just how many different perspectives and signals we can get from the labor market as we work to understand international trade. I never saw it that way before, despite the fact that I had been focusing on studying international trade economics since undergrad.

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

I can work very rigorously on things I am passionate about.

What's the worst?

It can be very lonely. 

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

I think I would either stay in the policymaking network, probably as a consultant to the government, or else choose the other end of the spectrum and work in private equity. 

Finally, please ask yourself a question

Window seat or aisle seat?

Aisle

 

—November 2017

 

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