Robin Wang: 'The fact that my research question leads to novel insights makes it all the more exciting to me'

Robin Wang


Oak Park, IL

What is your main extracurricular activity--why is it important to you?

I've been involved with the Cornell Economics Society (CES) since my freshman year, and as current president, I lead our organization in implementing various events such as Econ Week, mentorship opportunities and social gatherings that benefit members of our student economics community. What I love most about being part of CES is the opportunity to meet students from across the major with differing passions and talents, and to provide a forum for students to mentor each other and share in their passion for economics.

What, if any, research projects did you participate in at Cornell?

During the summer of my sophomore year, I assisted economics professors Michael Waldman and Sean Nicholson with their autism research. I was inspired by the interdisciplinary nature of their work, integrating both economics methods and contributions from the medical field. I am now finishing my honors thesis in economics relating to this research and I am lucky to have these professors as my advisors. My thesis empirically investigates the relationship between precipitation and autism prevalence in the United Kingdom, as there is a hypothesis that there is an environmental trigger for autism positively correlated with precipitation. I am excited by the research because it illustrates the potential of economics to make significant contributions to pressing issues in disciplines beyond the traditional economics realm, such as science and medicine. Although the research may be controversial, the fact that this question leads to novel insights makes it all the more exciting to me, and the potential for discovery drives me. My thesis intersects my two fields of interest, economics and medicine, and I hope to work on projects at this intersection in the future.

What do you value about your liberal arts education?

I value the interdisciplinary nature of a liberal arts education and how it teaches you to draw connections between ideas/concepts across different disciplines. Taking classes in wide-ranging fields, from creative writing to organic chemistry to Spanish to behavioral economics, has exposed me to different ways of viewing the world, and as a result, I believe that I have become a more original thinker and writer.

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 Robin Wang