FACULTY SPOTLIGHT: Assistant Professor of Economics Won Hyung Lee, Ph.D.

Won Hyung Lee, Ph.D.

Join the Chatham community in welcoming new Assistant Professor of Economics Won Hyung Lee, Ph.D. to the School of Arts, Science & Business. Originally from South Korea, Dr. Lee spent her high school years in Virginia and then went on to receive her undergraduate degree in economics and mathematics followed by master’s degree from New York University; she then pursued a Ph.D. in Economics from Rutgers University in New Jersey. According to Lee, she was always interested in the “real-world subjects” and saw math and economics as great tools to help understand the world. “If you listen to or read the news, it’s always about economics. When you’re younger, a lot of the news stories don’t really make a lot of sense; I wanted to be better able to understand what was going on in the world and make sense of what I was hearing. Economics is a really great tool to do that.” This semester, she teaches ECN101: Principles of Macroeconomics, ECN102: Principles of Microeconomics, and ECN330: The Global Financial System and the Macro Economy.

With an interest in both teaching and hands-on research, Dr. Lee’s areas of focus include environmental, resource, and public economics; her Ph.D. dissertation examined the impacts of voluntary environmental programs as policy tools. Math and economic modeling, she says, are essential tools but “the objective is really to understand not just the mathematical side of things, but human behavior in the real world. That’s why I wanted to study economics. When you’re in undergrad and graduate school, it’s a lot of math and modeling—a lot of technical things—but in the end it all comes back to human behavior and human outcomes.” Dr. Lee looks forward to getting back into her research work over the summer.

This is Dr. Lee’s first faculty position after graduating last fall. “It’s not a huge transition, but it’s definitely a transition. As a faculty member you have more responsibility, but it’s nice to get to know students better. The classes aren’t too big at Chatham, so I’m able to get to know students and their learning styles on an individual level.” She says she’s constantly tweaking her teaching methods in an effort to engage students in the learning process. “I always think about how detailed how I should be in explaining things—to some people it’s redundant, but others may need more of an explanation. It’s about finding that happy medium—I never want to give the impression that I’m underestimating students, but I also think it’s difficult to understand economics fully when you take just one course. It takes time to really understand the subject, so I try to balance breadth and depth.”

Dr. Lee is settling into her second semester of teaching and living in Pittsburgh. She finds that Chatham is a great place for her to hone her teaching skills, where smaller class sizes and the opportunity to get to know students allow her to really dig deep into her craft. “I’m developing my teaching skills, and in this second semester I’m teaching courses I’ve taught before so I’ve got a bit more time to incorporate more of the things I really want to do.” As for Pittsburgh itself, she says it feels like a larger city, but not as crowded and much more livable. “It’s definitely cleaner and cheaper!” she says.

Welcome, Dr. Lee!

 

Tricia Wancko is an MBA/Masters of Food Studies candidate who is just as interested in cuisine and culture as she is in the economic and political structures that shape our food system. With over a decade of experience in hospitality and entrepreneurship, she’s here at Chatham to broaden her toolkit. She holds a BS in Communication from Boston University with a focus on design and has over a decade of experience in fine dining restaurants, tourism and events, and food entrepreneurship as well as in small-scale farming within the greater New York City area.

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