25: Justin Wiltshire



Program and Year of Study

PhD, 3rd year

Previous degrees and colleges

BA Economics, Simon Fraser University (SFU)

MA Economics, SFU

MSc Economics, London School of Economics. 

(I have too many economics degrees. I was training to be a commercial pilot in my early 20s but I cut it short when I realized commercial pilots are essentially glorified bus drivers.)

Where did you grow up?

Victoria, British Columbia (in Canadia, eh?)

Where do you live now?

The mean streets of North Davis

What's your favorite spot in Davis?

The Department of Economics :/ Just kidding. I love running along the trails in the Northwest part of the city.

How do you relax?

Exercising, playing frisbee golf, listening to podcasts, going hiking out of the city, reading, having drinks with friends, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

What was the last book you read for pleasure?

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

What TV show are you currently binge-watching?

Thankfully none. I finished Glow, Ozark, and House of Cards very quickly. Now I can focus on my research…

Research interests

I’m focused on the economic decline of towns and neighborhoods within cities. What causes these declines? How does this affect businesses and residents over time? Can we predict which areas will decline in the future? How reversible are these declines, and what are their social consequences?

Dissertation title or topic

TBD, but in line with the above. 

Please share a surprising or noteworthy fact or finding from your research

It’s still in the early stages. A PhD in Economics involves taking classes full-time for two years before launching into full-time research, so I’m in that transition stage.

Which professor or class inspired you to pursue graduate studies?

Doug Allen and Alex Karaivanov (among others) at SFU encouraged and supported me a lot. I’m very grateful.

Which scholarly text do you wish you had written? Why?

This is an interesting question. Maybe Love and Objectivity in Virtue Ethics by Rob Fitterer. Or Mostly Harmless Econometrics. That is an *actually* useful book.

Which other researchers at UC Davis are doing work that particularly interests you?

Giovanni Peri is doing incredibly relevant work on immigration. And so many of the people involved in the interdisciplinary UC Davis Center for Poverty Research are producing interesting, important research.

What’s the best thing about being a grad student?

Having the opportunity to dig deep into questions that interest me alongside a group of fun, incredibly smart people who are willing to help.

What's the worst?

I worked as an air traffic controller before even starting university (in Canada, you don’t need a degree). If I’d stayed with it, I’d own a house in a fast-appreciating market and be pulling in $80k+ per year while having no student debt. My academic journey cost me that. But it’s still worth it!

If you weren't a grad student, what would you be doing?

Frisbee golfing every night on Canada’s west coast.

Finally, please ask yourself a question

What’s your favourite (spelled the Canadian way) wine?

Actually, I think beer is the new wine for a lot of people (another research question I’m exploring). I love a lot of the darker brews being produced by the numerous operations in Victoria—particularly Dark Matter from Hoyne Brewing. But I’ll take an Oregon Pinot Noir if you insist.


—October 2017


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