Poole Class of 2021 Spotlight: Siyan Liu
This spotlight series explores the relationships our graduating students have built during their time at Poole with their fellow classmates, faculty, advisors, career coaches, companies, partners or other people.
Siyan Liu, Ph.D. in Economics
When describing the culture of a doctoral program, particularly in a field like economics, phrases like rigorous, demanding or grueling may be expected. But collegial and friendly? That seems less likely. However, it’s exactly that atmosphere that attracted doctoral candidate Siyan Liu to NC State’s Polle College of Management Economics Ph.D. program.
“I knew I wanted to get a Ph.D. in economics during my senior year in college,” Liu says. “Economics is a field where I can apply quantitative analysis to inform real-world policymaking and to, hopefully, make a difference. I was attracted by the friendly atmosphere between students and faculty in the Econ Ph.D. program at Poole College.”
Liu, who was born and raised in Beijing, China, went to Hong Kong and earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance at the University of Hong Kong. Before coming to NC State, she received a master’s in economics from Vanderbilt University.
Her choice to pursue her Ph.D. at Poole provided Liu with relationships that she found impactful both personally and professionally.
My advisor, professor Melinda Morrill, has been a great mentor and role model to me. She would motivate me when I am having a hard time doing dissertation research and is always generous with detailed comments on how I can improve my work.
“My advisor, professor Melinda Morrill, has been a great mentor and role model to me. She would motivate me when I am having a hard time doing dissertation research and is always generous with detailed comments on how I can improve my work,” Liu says. “My other advisor, professor Thayer Morrill, has shown me how doing research can be fun and encouraged me to be creative and come up with new approaches. He also gave me great tips on navigating the job market.”
“I also appreciate the opportunity to have worked with professor Robert Clark on multiple research projects,” she continues. “He taught me a lot about presenting my research and communicating with people outside of academia. Thanks to his help, I developed a professional relationship with the Institute of Consumer Money Management, a Raleigh-based research institute, and received a dissertation grant from them.”
Through the research projects of her advisors, Liu had opportunities to do research on important local issues. Liu’s dissertation includes research pieces on evaluating school choice programs and the income security of recent retirees in North Carolina.
“One chapter of my dissertation focuses on how Wake County public school’s magnet program helps address overcrowding problems in the school district,” she shares. “I also wrote a chapter that examines the post-retirement income and financial well-being of recent North Carolina public retirees.”
After graduating with her Ph.D. in May, Liu hopes to continue her work on issues that have real-world applications.
“I will join the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College as a research economist where I will continue doing research on retirement income,” she says. “I am excited about the opportunity to work on projects evaluating public policies and formulating recommendations.”
And when she looks back at her time at Poole College, she won’t just remember the research and academics – she will remember the relationships.
“We all genuinely supported and cheered for the success of one another. I’ve leaned on many others to get through tough times in graduate school and am very grateful for their kindness,” Liu concludes.