Spotlight on... Professor Imran Rasul

This week we meet Professor Imran Rasul, who was awarded an OBE for services to Social Sciences in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2020. Imran is a Professor of Economics at UCL and chats to us here about what motivates him in his work.

What is your role and what does it involve?

I am a Professor in the Department of Economics at UCL. I am also Research Co-director of the ESRC Centre for the Microeconomic Analysis of Public Policy at the Institute for Fiscal Studies. At UCL, I teach graduate development economics. 

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I joined UCL in 2005. Previously, I was an Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago, at what is now the Booth School of Business.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

The other day, a former PhD candidate of mine asked me to look at a reference letter he’d written for his first PhD candidate. So, I became an academic grandfather for the first time. Seeing my former students go on and develop their own careers and successes is hugely satisfying.

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list?

There are so many - the core agenda I am working on now covers areas such as understanding the process of child development, inequality in labour markets, and the role of race/ethnicity in determining economic opportunity in the UK. All of these questions motivate me each day, and I can’t wait to work on them and make progress on each step by step. 

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

OK Computer, The Color Purple and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

What do you call a man with a spade on his head? Doug.
What do you call a man without a spade on his head? Douglas.

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Viv Richards, Jane Goodall, Eric Morecambe, and B.R. Ambedkar.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t compromise, ask for help when you need it, cherish friends and family, and remember to give yourself a break from time to time.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I am a petrol head and have excellent taste in music.

What is your favourite place?

I am equally happy in the Scottish Highlands or at Venice Beach - it all depends on my mood!


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