LAWRENCE — David Slusky is an instinctive sleuth willing to share the tricks of his trade to help students explore the economic questions swirling around them. Slusky, the De-Min and Chin-Sha Wu Associate Professor of Economics in the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Kansas, will deliver the annual Shutz Lecture at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 12. Individuals can register to attend the Zoom webinar here. His presentation is titled “Adventures with a Natural Experiment Hunter: Teaching Economics Research.”
The lecture will be recorded for those unable to attend the virtual event and posted to the Faculty Development website.
Slusky also serves as associate chair and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Economics and associate professor of population health (by courtesy) at KU Medical Center. He is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, a research fellow at IZA – Institute of Labor Economics in Bonn, Germany, an associate editor at the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management and has special sworn status with the United States Census.
He was recently honored with the Byron T. Shutz Award for Excellence in Teaching. His research interests include reproductive health care, fertility, birth and child outcomes, health and disability insurance, and substitution across different types of health care.
Beyond KU, Slusky was also a health policy adviser for Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign, has testified before the Kansas Senate and presented to the Governor’s Council on tax reform.
The applied microeconomist joined KU in 2015 and teaches courses on health economics, public policy, microeconomic theory and labor economics at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Slusky has won numerous awards and prizes, including delivering the Seaver Lecture from the Humanities Program at KU in 2020, the Ekstein Prize for Best 2017–2018 article in the Eastern Economic Journal, the Towbes Prize for Outstanding Teaching (as a doctoral candidate at Princeton) and DeForest Pioneers Prize for Distinguished Creative Achievement in Physics, and the Branford College Fellows’ Prize for Outstanding Academic Achievement (both as an undergraduate student at Yale).
"I'm a natural experiment hunter, looking to find ways to use arbitrary variation to answer crucial causal questions,” Slusky said. “For example, did Uber availability reduce ambulance use? Does closing women's health clinics reduce preventive care rates? Does Medicaid expansion save lives? Did reopening elementary schools increase COVID-19 rates? Does contact tracing prevent deaths from COVID-19? Understanding the research behind answering these questions is important not just for researchers like me but also for everyone.”
Slusky hopes attendees of Wednesday’s virtual lecture leave with the knowledge everyone should have about economic research and how he teaches research consumption to college students of all levels.
“I've developed an approach for teaching undergraduate and graduate students how to parse this kind of academic literature and become better consumers of research,” Slusky said. “In my talk, I'll walk the audience through these papers that answer these particular questions and teach them the skills they need to understand papers they find on their own in the future.
“My hope is that everyone attending will be excited about consuming research in the future and have the ability to do so."
As associate chair and director of undergraduate studies in the economics department, Slusky streamlined the economic department’s majors and minors, implemented its accelerated master’s program, created two new certificates, expanded its senior honors thesis program and increased the number of courses in the department that could satisfy KU Core curriculum requirements. He also added economics as a potential concentration in the School of Engineering in the bachelor's in interdisciplinary computing degree, creating one of the most rigorous economics and computer science programs in the country.
Before coming to KU, Slusky earned a master's degree and doctorate in economics from Princeton and a bachelor's degree in physics (with distinction) and international studies (with distinction), magna cum laude, from Yale University, where he was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
The Byron T. Shutz Award was established in 1978 and recognizes distinguished teaching by a KU faculty member. Each year the award alternates between honoring outstanding teaching in any discipline and teaching in the fields of economics and business. The award’s namesake, Byron T. Shutz, was presented with a Distinguished Service Citation in 1963, KU’s highest recognition.