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Last summer, I was granted the SLU Scholarships for short-term visits, which supported my four month scholar stay at the Center for Global Trade Analysis (GTAP), situated at the Department of Agriculture Economics at Purdue University.
Shortly after my settlement at the University, the Center offered us four newcomers a great orientation throughout the whole day. The Center's faculty, research economists, administration staff, Graduate Students & Post-Docs etc., all came in and introduced themselves, discussed what they were currently working on. I was very pleased with this orientation and felt immediately at home. It quickly gave us a sense of what was happening in the center, what kind of courses, conferences the graduate students were recommended to attend, and where to get the financial support.
I was very fortunate to participate in Agricultural Economics 618, a graduate course at GTAP. The course was very intensive and comprehensive. The lecturers walked me through all the theoretical and technical aspects of CGE modelling. All lectures and lab assignments were posted online which allowed me to repeat and play back entire lectures. The part that struck me most was the practical training I received from the instructors. To ensure that the students left with an ability to conduct their own simulations using the GTAP-family model, all students were asked to choose a topic in consultation with the instructors, thereupon replicating and extending an existing study.
The University and city were the perfect size to offer a good community spirit. I came to Purdue to learn CGE modeling, experience American culture, and find out what it's really like to join one of the top universities in the US. In the end, I believe I managed to do all that. The lessons I've learnt here will be beneficial to my future research, it is my hope that it will open more doors at the job market. It will also result in a working paper further down the line.
This short visit to Purdue was rewarding in many different ways, not just when it comes to my research but also my personal growth as a researcher. One piece of advice for anyone visiting another university is to plan and prepare early on, not just your visa, flight tickets, but also a project proposal to be researched at your hosting university. Finally, never be too afraid to step out of your comfort zone, you will benefit substantially from the interaction with people of different cultures.
Jinggang thesis is about BioEnergy and the multiple roles of the forest especially when it comes to climate change. If all goes well, Guo will have his dissertation this year.
Photo: Talita Pinto