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I am a 1965 native of Calgary, Alberta, but have 100% Newfoundland blood. I grew up in the suburbs of Ottawa, Canada. I graduated in 1983 from (the now closed) J.S. Woodsworth Secondary School, curiously named after a 20th century Canadian Prairie socialist politician whose movement led Canada into the world of three-party politics. My high school years were spent trying in vain to match clearly unattainable academic levels set by my brilliant older brother. But most of my time was occupied by extracurriculars ranging from full contact speed chess, to catching my 15 minutes of fame in debating, math contests and Olympiads, physics contests, and a fast fun prime time TV quiz show Reach for the Top.
I received the Governor General's Gold Medal in 1987 from Carleton University (Ottawa) as the top undergraduate student university-wide. There, I earned my honours BA in math and economics. From ages 13-22, I greatly enjoyed spending my time solving math contest problems, and placed in the top 100 on the 1986 North American Putnam Math Contest (despite a stupid 20% blunder - ha!).
I received my PhD in 1991 at the historic Economics Department at the University of Chicago. No other department in the world can better effect a change from math jock to homo economicus. While I still very much enjoy problem solving, it has been redirected to economic theory, where I derive nearly as much joy from inventing problems, as solving them. The goal is to find and formulate puzzles that are central to economics, and yet offer surprising theorems with value added over our intuition. The influence on my thinking of the Chicago approach is long-lasting. My thesis in microeconomic theory studied repeated games and rational learning; it was graciously supervised by In-Koo Cho (chair, now at Illinois), and Jose Scheinkman (now at Princeton) and Michael Woodford (now at Columbia).
I spent my untenured years 1991-8 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) , where I wrote some of my best work with truly exceptional students that I was blessed with the opportunity to teach. Each was willing to take sometimes insane chances --- chronologically: Peter Norman Sorensen, Robert Shimer, and Giuseppe Moscarini [all students in my amazing 1993-94 Economics of Uncertainty class]. I feel extremely grateful that each of the three separate projects with them has now yielded a paper in Econometrica (including two with Giuseppe!). I was a tenured professor of economics at the University of Michigan from 1998-2010, where I continued to meet amazing students, and now at Wisconsin starting in 2010. En route, I have written jointly or solo about the economics of information, matching, search theory, finance, and bargaining. Essentially, I am interested in learning and strategic incentives. My CV is here.
Ballroom dancing is my favorite hobby. I have competed in international Latin dancing and performed showcases in theater arts rumba (i.e. with partner lifts). I also like swimming and waterskiing -- both, especially on lakes. I learned to enjoy swimming in my parent's former pool, which my Dad buried by hand. I learned to slalom ski in the world's waterski capital of Orlando.