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June 21-July 19, 1999

Polak Assumes Kohn Associate Chair in Economics

Benjamin Polak has been named the Henry Kohn Associate Professor of Economics by vote of the Yale Corporation, his five-year appointment is effective immediately.

Polak joined the Yale faculty in 1994 as assistant professor in the economics department. His teaching interests focus on microeconomic theory and economic history, classes include Econ 159, the regular undergraduate game theory course. Lauded as an outstanding academician, Polak last year received both the Graduate Teaching Prize and the Graduate Advising Prize from his department.

Poslak has done research on topics ranging from the emergence of a capital market in England in the 18th and 19th centuries, to property transactions in Ireland from the early 18th century to modern times, to past correlations between poverty, policy and industrialization. His papers have been published in numerous journals focusing on economic theory and history, including the Rand Journal of Economics, the Journal of Economic History, the Journal of Economic Theory, Irish Economic and Social History, and Econometrica.

A native of Great Britain, Polak received his bachelor's degree in economics from Cambridge University (Trinity College) in 1984, with first-class honors. His dissertation centered on "Agricultural Credit and Rural Differentiation in Highland Kenya." He then came to the United States to study at Northwestern University. Still focusing his research on Kenya, he earned a master's degree in history from Northwestern in 1986 with the thesis "Rinderpest and Kenya in the 1890s." Polak then went to Harvard University, where in 1992 he earned a Ph.D. in economics. His doctoral thesis, titled "Problems from the History of Capital Markets," gave him the opportunity to merge his interests in the fields of economics and history, a path he would continue to follow in his teaching career.

Before coming to Yale, Polak was a visiting professor at the New Economic School in Moscow, in 1993. He also was a visiting fellow at the University of Melbourne, Australia, 1991-94, and, concurrently, a junior fellow of the Society of Fellows at Harvard University. After coming to Yale he received several visiting appointments, including ones at the Research School of the Social Sciences at the Australian National University, London School of Economics and Australian National University. He also serves as a referee for leading academic journals.

In addition to prizes from the economics department at Yale, Polak also received a Yale Junior Faculty Sabbatical Fellowship in 1997. His other awards and honors include MacArthur Foundation and Alfred P. Sloan research fellowships in 1996 and 1998, respectively.