Austin Smith

Austin Smith lecturing

Professor Austin Smith is currently an Assistant Professor for our department. He received his PhD from the University of Colorado in 2015 and started with Miami that same year. Some of his research interests are labor economics, economics of education, and health economics.

  • Has COVID affected your every day work life? If so, how? Definitely. I primarily work from home and frequent Zoom meetings have become a way of life.  
  • What are some ways this new way of life has benefited the way you look at your daily work operations? One positive change has been more work/family variety within a day. I have two young children, aged one and four. I can take short breaks within a day to spend time with my kids, even if it is just to read a short book. Another benefit has been increased accessibility of conferences. I "attended" two conferences via Zoom in the fall that typically would have taken substantial travel time.     
  • Once COVID has slowed down, do you think this will affect your future way of continuing to do your work? My comfort level with virtual meetings has certainly increased, and I suspect those gains will continue for research collaborations. I do expect a return to primarily in-person teaching and in-person conferences will be valuable, just with a bit more virtual interaction mixed in sporadically. 
  • Has your research been able to grow and expand due to more time at home working? The pandemic has had mixed impacts on my research. The primary benefit has been the ability to see more seminars/conferences virtually than I would have been able to attend in person. On the negative side, I work with some restricted datasets and the pandemic has slowed the approval process for receiving new data.  
  • Has teaching online brought you to come up with new and innovative ideas for teaching? If so, how? Yes - due to the pandemic, I redesigned my Economics of Compensation course into a flipped classroom. The course is taught with a blend of asynchronous content and interactive Zoom sessions that engage students in both small group activities and large group discussions. The pandemic and resulting labor market fallout led me to shift more focus to topics like unemployment insurance, which have been a crucial part of the government's response to the pandemic-induced recession. 
  • Has having an Eco degree benefited you during this time? Economics provides a framework for analyzing the tradeoffs involved in any decision, while taking into account constraints. The pandemic drastically altered the constraints and risks we face in everyday life. Thinking like an economist helps me focus on making the optimal decisions given the pandemic, rather than dwelling on what I wish I could do.