Thanks to the support of our Old Members, Univ is able to offer undergraduates and postgraduates the chance to undertake travel and research for their studies that might not otherwise have been possible. Students are asked to write a journal of their travel and experiences. Approximately a sixth of Univ students receive an Old Members’ Trust Travel Grant worth between £100 and £1,750 each year.
Jan David Bakker
Thanks to the support by the ‘Old Members' Trust Graduate Conference and Academic Travel Grant’ I was able to participate in the 8th Economic Geography and International Trade Research Meeting at the Ifo Institute in Munich.
This research meeting provides a forum for junior researchers to present their academic work and get feedback from more experienced researchers in the field of economic geography and international trade.
I presented a draft of my first chapter that explores the effects of an exogenous population shock on the distribution of population in the urban system using the end of Apartheid in South Africa as a natural experiment. Michele Battisti and Gabriel Felbermayr, the director of the Ifo Center for International Economics, served as discussants for my paper and provided valuable feedback that will significantly improve the quality of the paper. The subsequent discussion focused on challenges relating to the identifying assumptions and possible extensions that focus on the ethnic diversity within South African cities.
In one of my other chapters I want to analyse the distribution of firms in space and how it has changed over time. Some of the more experienced researchers have written very influential paper on similar issues using various data sets. Wolfgang Dauth and Jens Südekum have worked with the German Establishment History Panel of the Institute for Employment Research a 50% sample of the universe of firms. Since I plan to analyse the same data, this was a great opportunity to discuss with them potential ideas and problems I am likely to face in this analysis.
It was also a great pleasure to meet fellow PhD students and other junior researcher from all over Europe that are interested in similar topics to discuss ideas and potential collaborations.
Overall, this trip allowed me to get valuable feedback on my first chapter, to practice presenting at academic conferences and to discuss the ideas for my second chapter with leading researchers in the field as well as people who have worked with the data I am planning to use.
I am very grateful to the trustees and contributors of the Trust that enabled me to participate in the conference.
Thanks to the Old Members' Trust Graduate Conference and Academic Travel Fund help I was able to attend the workshop and winter school in Uncertainty Quantification at the Universita’ della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, Switzerland.
Uncertainty Quantification (UQ) is now one of my research fields. However, my mathematical background is quite different (I have mainly worked on deterministic problems) and the winter school/workshop was essential for a good Dphil-level introduction to state-of-the-art UQ research. In only 5 days I learnt more than I would have in three weeks of individual study.
The workshop was also a great opportunity to meet other researchers in the same area and to see what is their approach to problems I am also working on. Some of the methods they are developing are relevant to my research, they look really promising and I will probably use them in the future. I left the workshop with a plethora of new ideas, some of which, I hope, will prove useful in the future. There might also be some scope for collaboration with people from Warwick that I have met while I was there.