Three Economics Faculty Gain Tenure

Starting Fall 2018, the Department of Economics welcomes the tenure and promotion of three Assistant Professors to the rank of Associate Professor. All joined the department as Assistant professors, Ömer Özak in Fall 2011 and James Lake and Danila Serra in Fall 2012.

Danila Serra holds a PhD in Economics from Oxford University. In her work, she applies novel experimental methodologies and survey design to the study of corruption, governance and accountability. She has published numerous highly cited articles in peer-reviewed journals and edited a book on the subject. Professor Serra has been a consultant for the World Bank in various projects and has conducted research both in developed and developing countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya and Angola. Her most recent research focuses on issues related to gender and economics, including gender differences in the choice of major, the gender wage gap and the gender leadership gap. In November 2017, Professor Serra was chosen as the inaugural recipient of the Vernon Smith Ascending Scholar Prize. The $50,000 prize, named after the 2002 Economics Nobel Prize winner Vernon Smith, is granted by the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics (IFREE) to “an exceptional scholar in the field of experimental economics whose work embodies IFREE’s mission to Promote Human Betterment through Experimental Economics to Improve the Understanding of Exchange Systems.” At SMU, Professor Serra teaches undergraduate courses in Price Theory and Experimental and Behavioral Economics. She also teaches a graduate class on Behavioral Development Economics. Professor Serra is the inaugural recipient of the Barbara and James Mangum Excellence in Teaching Award.

James Lake’s research and teaching both center around international trade. On the research side, he has published numerous articles focusing on why countries form international trade agreements and why politicians vote for or against these agreements in their own national legislatures. On the teaching side, his courses focus on understanding the recent trade policy issues in the U.S. and why some groups in a country benefit from trade while other groups in the country lose from trade. In recognition of his undergraduate teaching, Dr. Lake received the 2017 Barbara and James Mangum Teaching Award.



Ömer Özak‘s research explores the deep historical origins and long-run consequences of some of the most fundamental cultural, human and economic characteristics that are at the roots of contemporary comparative economic development across countries, regions and ethnic groups. In particular, he studies how the interaction of bio-geographical, cultural, institutional, and technological factors have determined the evolution of societies in the course of human history. This interdisciplinary research agenda lies at the intersection of comparative development, economic growth, political economy, cultural economics, and evolutionary economics, and it further contributes to the fields of cultural and human evolution, and cultural anthropology. His research has been published in top journal in economics, including the American Economic Review, as well as in the popular press. The interest in his research has kept him consistently among the top 5% most downloaded researchers in the Repository for Economic Research – IDEAS/REPEC as well as in the Social Science Research Network – SSRN. He has also been named Research Fellow at the prestigious Institute for the Study of Labor-IZA. Professor Özak teaches in the undergraduate and Ph.D. programs at SMU. At both levels he combines his research interests with his courses on Macroeconomics and Economic Growth introducing students to some of the most intriguing, difficult and important questions in economics. He cares a lot about his students and their learning accomplishments, for which he has been nominated as a HOPE (Honoring Our Professors of Excellence) professor.