Andrew Wei ’20.

Andrew Wei ’20 discovered his unexpected zeal for research as a Hamilton junior working on a big-data project with Ann Owen, Henry Platt Bristol Professor of Economics.

Wei now works as a banking and financial analyst at the Federal Reserve Board, where he divides his time between research and policy work that supports the economists in his section. “When I started doing research, I wouldn’t have predicted to have ended up where I am. But I guess each step, each project, led to another,” he said.

Until he undertook that first project, Wei’s predominant interest in College was tennis. That changed when he undertook the work with Owen looking at inequality and bias in the demand for and supply of news. Their paper was published in Social Science Quarterly.

Early this month at a poster session during the American Economics Association annual meeting, Wei presented work he’d done as a Hamilton student with Owen and Judit Temesvary, who is principal economist with the board’s Banking and Financial Analysis Section and a former Hamilton professor. Wei was an intern at the Federal Reserve when he became part of the project, which examined the effect that the social networks of bank directors have on board gender diversity and compensation.

Wei is exceptional, in Owen’s estimation: smart, creative, hardworking. “What he has accomplished in the last few years is truly impressive,” she said.

On the job at the Fed, he continues to do research with Owen and Temesvary, focusing on how the social networks differ between men and women. 

An econ and mathematics double major, he calls on both his majors to pursue his interests. “The reason why I liked economics was that you were able to ask, to answer, questions that perhaps a sociologist or a psychologist would ask, [questions] that you’re able to answer using methods that use math and are very rigorous,” he explained.

More and more, he finds himself interested in gender inequality. “I’m finding that gender inequality is becoming very relevant. And especially in economics, it’s such a growing field,” said Wei, who wrote his Hamilton economics thesis on gender discrimination.

That’s the sort of result Owen hopes to see in students who do research with her. “I hope that students who work with me develop their abilities to problem-solve creatively and feel empowered to contribute solutions to social and economic problems,” she said.

Wei is taking graduate economics courses at the University of Maryland and plans to follow his interest in research all the way to grad school within a couple of years.

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