Faculty profile: Hakan Yilmazkuday

This is the seventh article in a series highlighting some of the 124 faculty members who were hired during the 2011-2012 academic year

When you walk into Hakan Yilmazkuday’s office, you are first greeted by a dry erase board. It’s placed high up on the wall, nearly lining up with the ceiling. It’s covered in economics formulas. The average student could look at this for days, trying to make sense of it, to somehow figure out what it all means. That’s exactly what the economics professor is trying to do.

“I’m a researcher, and my goal is to answer the questions I come up with everyday,” Yilmazkuday said. “On every corner there are different gas stations with different prices. I ask myself, ‘Why is it five cents higher here than it is over there?’ It’s things like these that make me come up with questions.”

It’s Yilmazkuday’s drive to find answers that make him a passionate researcher, collaborative teacher and an apt economist.

“The teacher-student relationship is special. I get a lot of good ideas from my students. That’s the nice part of teaching,” Yilmazkuday said. “My students are young and they’re more flexible and open to thinking outside the box. They learn from me and I learn from them. I want to teach them to ask questions and, hopefully, they’ll benefit from that.”

Yilmazkuday’s research and teaching fields include international trade, macroeconomics, monetary economics, regional economics and growth, and development. Simply put, he plays with numbers all day.

“We do that, but those numbers are so important,” Yilmazkuday said. “We do the research that policymakers then use to influence international financial relations or decide how much interest you pay on your car or mortgage. The standard of life that we live in depends on those numbers.”

In addition to teaching, Yilmazkuday is also serving as a contributing partner at Vanderbilt’s Centers for International Price Research, a research associate at the Federal Reserve Bank’s Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute, and as a visiting scholar with the International Monetary Fund.

Yilmazkuday is also finishing his research, International Cities as the Economic Unit of Account: Theory and Measurement, with associates at Vanderbilt. The study, funded by the National Science Foundation, examines the microeconomic responses at a city level to macroeconomic shocks. The researchers hope that this data will be taken into account by city leaders while conducting monetary and fiscal policies.

Originally from Istanbul, Turkey, Yilmazkuday earned bachelor’s degrees in economics from Istanbul Bilgi University in 2000 and the London School of Economics in 2001. He completed a master’s degree at Marmara University in Turkey in 2003.

During his tenure as a graduate student, Yilmazkuday met his future wife, Demet, also an economist. The couple married exactly two weeks before they both moved to Nashville, Tenn., to pursue doctorate degrees at Vanderbilt University.

Attracted to the focus FIU’s Department of Economics pays to international economics, Yilmazkuday joined the FIU family as an assistant professor in the fall of 2011. Demet Yilmazkuday is also a visiting assistant professor in the department.

Other faculty members profiled in this series:

Tawia Ansah

David A. Ralston

Margaret Scisney-Matlock

Percy Hintzen

O. Dale Williams

Shekhar Bhansali