IIES Graduate Student Claire Thürwächter on her visit to Harvard University

During the 2022 spring term, Claire visited the Economics Department at Harvard University, where she was hosted by Professor Gabriel Chodorow-Reich.

Claire Thürwächter

- In line with the academic cycle at Harvard, I moved to the U.S. in January and returned to the IIES in May – just in time to settle back in Stockholm before everyone dispersed for the summer months.

Claire's primary engagements throughout the stay were with the macroeconomics group of the Economics Department, which included the participation in the weekly Graduate Student Workshop, where PhD students present their ongoing projects to faculty and peers, as well as a macro-specific reading group and related seminars with external speakers. 

- I also joined the weekly Graduate Student Workshop in Financial Economics, that is run by professors at Harvard Business School. In the finance workshop, I also presented my work early on during my stay. That was a great and fun experience in itself. Subsequently, I had a lot of insightful discussions about the project with faculty from both macro and finance.   

- Over the course of my visit, I integrated very well with the PhD students from both groups since we got together on such a frequent and regular basis. Besides, I also got to know other visiting PhD students and could foster my academic network.

- Beyond these professional experiences, I explored the surroundings and went on short trips along the U.S. East Coast. It was great to complement my impressions from the Boston area with visits to rural Maine and New Hampshire – which reminded me a lot of Swedish landscapes - as well as New York City and Washington D.C.  

What did you learn?

- Despite the rather short time horizon, I learned a lot during my visit at Harvard. First and foremost, it was very rewarding to discuss my research with Harvard faculty. This helped me to identify relevant next steps and to gain a broader perspective on my projects. In addition, through the numerous workshops I attended, I learned a lot from the research of other PhD students. It was always insightful and fun to discuss their projects and I am impressed by the variety and quality of their work. All in all, it was also an enriching experience to live in the U.S., in particular after the rather local pandemic years.

How did the Economics Department at Harvard differ from the IIES? 

- There are clear differences in scale across the two places. The Economics Department at Harvard is larger than the IIES and comprises of a lot of faculty and graduate students. Consequently, there are more subfield-specific events and more graduate students working in a certain area. This leads to a more focused research exposure. In contrast, the smaller scale of the IIES makes interactions between faculty and students more spontaneous. It also brings about frequent interactions across fields, such that we have a natural exposure to broad frontier research at the IIES.

- Another difference is the close link between the Economics Department and Harvard Business School, which makes it possible to attend events at both places. This was particularly fitting for my research interests.

Is there anything else you want to share about your stay? 

- I want to end by thanking all the people that I’ve met during the past months that made this experience so enjoyable and memorable. In particular, thanks to Gabe Chodorow-Reich for hosting me, to Gabe and Ludwig Straub for their continued guidance throughout my stay and to all faculty that took the time to meet and discuss my research. Also, a huge thank you to the graduate students at Harvard for including me so nicely into their group and making me feel welcome from the start. And thanks to all other visiting PhD students that I got to meet and share this experience with.

- My stay was financed through a research grant from Handelsbanken and I want to thank the Tom Hedelius foundation for the generous financial support. 

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