Three Stanford faculty members named Guggenheim Fellows

Robert Dawson
Robert Dawson

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has named three Stanford faculty members Guggenheim Fellows: ROBERT DAWSON for photography, JONATHAN LEVIN for economics and MONIKA PIAZZESI for economics.

“It’s exciting to name 178 new Guggenheim Fellows,” Edward Hirsch, foundation president, said in a press release. “These artists and writers, scholars and scientists, represent the best of the best. Since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has always bet everything on the individual, and we’re thrilled to continue the tradition with this wonderfully talented and diverse group. It’s an honor to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do.”

In their own words, the three Stanford fellows described their projects.

Robert Dawson, photography instructor: I was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship based on my 18-year photographic survey of public libraries throughout the United States. It resulted in the book The Public Library: A Photographic Essay published this month by Princeton Architectural Press. It contains 160 of my photos along with 15 essays, including a forward by Bill Moyers and an afterword by Ann Patchett. My proposed project is to spend the next year in the city of Stockton, Calif. Stockton is the second largest city in the United States to declare bankruptcy and is one of the least literate places in the country. I will be working with the Library and Literacy Foundation of San Joaquin County in their efforts to bring literacy and hope to a troubled place.

Jonathan Levin
Jonathan Levin

Jonathan Levin, ’94, economics professor: I’m working on competition in health care. I’m hoping to write some papers looking at questions such as: How effective is competition in health insurance, given that in most local markets there are a few large insurers with dominant market positions? Why do private insurance costs in different areas of the country vary so much but in ways that are very different from public Medicare costs? And how might the consolidation of health care providers into large organizations and ACOs affect healthcare costs? I will also be at Oxford next year during the Guggenheim so hopefully I’ll learn something about the NHS and health care systems in Europe.

Monika Piazzesi
Monika Piazzesi

Monika Piazzesi, PhD ’00, economics professor: My project is on banks’ risk exposures. In particular, I have been working on developing a new method that uses regulatory data on bank positions and comes up with a measure of their exposure to risk. An advantage of the method is that it allows researchers or regulators to understand the exposure contained in derivative positions. The regulatory data on these positions is quite opaque. For example, banks are not required to disclose the direction of their exposures – the derivative positions may be bets on interest-rate hikes or on interest-rate falls. The exposures in these derivative positions are large, and so it is really important to be able to extract the risks that are contained in these positions. Moreover, the measure is additive so that we can aggregate our estimates to a group of large banks or the entire banking sector. The aggregated measures will help us assess the risk exposures of the financial sector.

Read the Guggenheim press release.