Hailing from Ghana and Maryland, my name is Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman and I am currently a Research Scholar in Economics at Harvard University as well as a Visiting Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
I graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) with a Bachelor’s in Mathematics and a minor in Economics in 2019. On campus, I was a Meyerhoff Scholar, MARC*U*STAR Scholar, Honors College Student, and a student leader in the National Society of Black Engineers as well as the STAR Program, which addresses STEM achievement for fifth-graders in Baltimore City.
Between my freshman and junior years in college, I majored in Biology in hopes to obtain an M.D. I was miserable, but that pursuit led me to learn about the Meyerhoff Scholars and MARC U*STAR programs, both of which exposed me to research and the path of obtaining a doctoral degree. After a couple of stents in biomedical labs, I realized that I really enjoyed data analysis so with a year left in my Biology degree, I switched my major to Mathematics. Making that decision changed the trajectory of my life forever.
Shortly after I changed my major to Mathematics, I stumbled into Economics, which combines statistical and mathematical analysis with social science. I decided to pursue it as a career after working with Dr. Judy Hellerstein, the Chair of University of Maryland- College Park’s Economics Department. Together, with Dr. Sai Luo, we worked on a project that explores different racial and ethnicity trends among prime-age men (men between the ages of 25 and 54) in the U.S. labor market. Today, I am interested in exploring questions about the future of work and its implications for Black people around the world.
Five Facts about Mathematics and Economics
- The fundamental difference between Mathematics and Statistics is that the former is the study of numbers, shapes, and patterns and the latter is the study of numerical data.
- Economics is traditionally split into two mainstream areas: microeconomics, which focuses on how people or specific firms make decisions, and macroeconomics, the study of an economy as a whole. There are some economists that study topics that are outside of mainstream thought — heterodox economics.
- Causal inference is an important economic concept that pretty much boils down to the question: Did X happen because of Y? The issue though is that you can never observe the causal effect on one thing — either something is or something is not.
- Did you know that 1+1 = 0 if the set of numbers is just 0 and 1? It can be proved using imaginary numbers (which is another really cool concept).
- Economics is a STEM field according to the National Science Foundation and economists can work everywhere from the Office of the President to Amazon to the classroom? They are arguably one of the most versatile scientists!
If you are wondering whether Math is something you should study or look into, just remember that “Math is the elephant that sits in every room”.
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