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William Murdock


Major: Interdisciplinary Physics, Economics, Mathematical Sciences
 
Year: 2013
 
What are you currently doing?: I am currently a research assistant at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Starting in August 2014, I will be a research analyst at Harvard University working in the Education Innovation Laboratory (http://edlabs.harvard.edu/). I will work there for a couple of years and then hopefully head off to an Economics PhD program.
 
How did you decide?: I have always been passionate about education (becoming a physics or math teacher was always in the back of my head). However, it wasn't until I started doing research with Professor Timothy McKay on the introductory physics courses at UofM that I realized the effect that research could have on the entire education system. I started reading more and more about current education related research, which led to me wanting to be involved with similar research, which led me to taking some economics courses, which then led to me majoring in economics. My senior year, I realized that all of my undergraduate research was in physics and I should probably get some exposure to the economics research world before applying to graduate school. Because of this, I accepted a position at the Boston Fed. However, when I heard of the job at Harvard, I decided it was too good of a fit to pass up. I am very fortunate that I will be at Harvard for a couple of years doing education research that I am really interested in. 

How has physics helped you?: Having a physics degree and physics research experience has helped set me up for a successful transition into the world of economic research. The problem solving, coding, and data analysis skills I learned from physics have been useful in my every day work. I have also realized that many people in other academic fields really respect physics and consider it a very difficult discipline. The fact that I was able to say on my resume that I majored in physics probably directly led to a few interview callbacks when I was applying for jobs.

Favorite SPS memory: Playing foosball with Henriette Elvang in the SPS break room. If I recall correctly, she is pretty darn good and kicked our butts.