Economics Professor Hits His Stride

Olivier Parent is a workhorse. Since his arrival at the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences from France three years ago, the assistant professor of economics has worked tirelessly on his research in spatial econometrics.

So far, that work is paying off.

Parent, along with winning a medal earlier this year for his research efforts, was recently invited to serve on the editorial board of

Papers in Regional Science

, the official journal of the Regional Science Association International.

While at the association’s yearly meeting in New York City last month, editor Jouke van Dijk approached Parent and asked him to join the board.

“He just came to me at the meeting and asked me to serve,” said Parent. “It’s a very huge honor and I wasn’t expecting it at all.”

Sourushe Zandvakili, professor and head of the Economics Department at UC, shared in Parent’s excitement.

“In economics, it’s very unusual for someone who has not made tenure to be invited to join the editorial board of a journal,” Zandvakili said. “He has really been one of the most prolific researchers in recent decades we have hired and the fact that he has been so well received by a lot of senior individuals in the field of regional science speaks of the quality of work that he produces.”

Parent's research focuses on spatial econometrics, a concentration that looks at developing appropriate methods for the analysis of spatial data (such as urban or regional economics) from a practical perspective.

The editorial board position requires Parent to attend meetings for the association, read submissions to the journal and make comments on them. It is a three-year renewable agreement that begins in early 2009.

Along with gaining recognition in the field, Parent acknowledged that networking was an important criterion for the position. It’s his enthusiasm for discussing his work with others that helped him earn the invite, he said.

Such passion for his work not only helped him meet other academics in his field, it helped his research as well. Because of the broad interdisciplinary field of regional science, Parent is able to work with fellow economists as well as geographers, urban and regional planners and other experts in a variety of fields.

His collaborations with other scholars have thus far worked in his favor. In March, Parent was awarded the William H. Miernyk Research Excellence Medal for his paper “Space and Time Analysis of the Knowledge Production Function” by the Southern Regional Science Association. The medal is awarded annually to a young scholar for the best solely authored paper presented at the Southern Regional Science Meeting.

Photo courtesy of WVU Regional Research Institute.

“His work in spatial econometrics is really at the cutting edge of the discipline,” Zandvakili said.

For a young scholar to receive such recognition and praise three years after earning his doctorate is notable. For him to remain humble while doing so is remarkable.

“To win awards and receive external grants in economics, you have to be well known in your field," Parent said. "So at first you have to focus on your research and start applying for funding."

In other words, he’s a long way from where he hopes to be.

“I have to take it one step at a time,” he said.

From here, those steps look more like strides.

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