After a brief hiatus, we have decided to start the year off with a new series of Meet the Lecturers, so without further ado; Dr Jack Fosten!
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and main interests in economics?
I grew up in the Kentish suburbs of London and decided to study economics at the University of Bath after a last-minute decision not to study modern foreign languages, something for which I am now thankful! Throughout my undergraduate career I became interested in the quantitative side of economics and was never happy with settling for explanations of economic concepts which just used words or diagrams. I went on to the University of Warwick to study for an MSc and PhD in economics, the latter of which I transferred to the University of Surrey. In 2015 I took up my first position as an academic here at UEA.
One of my main research interests is in the methodology of forecast modelling, which can be applied to key economic variables such as inflation, unemployment and GDP. While economists are often harshly criticised for “getting it wrong”, behind any private or policy-making institution like the Bank of England, there are a bunch of people crunching the numbers using methods similar to those that I use in my work.
What do you think makes studying Economics at UEA special?
I have visited and studied at many academic institutions, both in the UK and abroad, and I can honestly say that the School of Economics at UEA has the highest level of student-staff interaction that I have seen. Visiting academics frequently comment on how nice it is to see the wide corridors where students can study in the presence of academics, normally chatting or popping out to get coffee! While a key aim of undergraduate study is to develop skills in independent working, interaction with staff can be really useful for students as they tackle difficult new challenges.
How does a degree in Economics prepare you for your future career?
Although my opinion is clearly biased(!) I would say that economics degree programmes in the UK give students one of the most useful skill sets of all degrees. Students will come away with a great blend of analytical skills, problem solving ability, quantitative skills and use of advanced statistical software which can be transferred to many interesting jobs in the private and public sector.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I’ve only been working as an academic for just over a year, but I already love the balance between research, which allows me the flexibility to work on whatever I want, and teaching, which gives me the ability to interact with students. One of the perks of research is that you get to travel to conferences to present your work, meeting interesting people and seeing new places.
What should students expect from their first year?
There will be a change in lifestyle and studying from what students are used to at home and school. It is vital to strike the right balance between work and play, as too much of either can have undesirable consequences…! Once the balance is struck, university is an enjoyable, life-changing experience.
What are your interests away from academia?
I try to keep up with playing the trombone and enjoy learning Spanish and the odd bit of Catalan (important with a wife from Barcelona!) I am also an avid, yet frequently disappointed, follower of Charlton Athletic Football Club.