Grant McDermott bio photo

Grant McDermott

Data. Economics. Environment.

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I originally hail from the Cape Winelands of South Africa. I attended the University of Cape Town for my Bachelor studies, graduating with double honours degrees in economics and business science in 2005.

The next several years were spent working in the private sector, punctuated by extended periods of travel. Most notable of these was a 12,500 km bicycle journey from Cairo to Cape Town, which raised $200,000 for a development project in Tanzania. (Here are two promo videos of the expedition that were made as part of a pitch to Irish television companies.)

My experiences during this period, as well as being witness to the global financial crisis through my job as an economic consultant, were key motivating factors in my decision to pursue further studies. My preference was to study abroad and to specialise in energy economics and natural resource management. Norway seemed an ideal fit for these goals and I thus went on to enroll in an MSc, followed by a PhD at the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH).

Having successfully defended my PhD in 2015, I am now doing a postdoc at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), working under Professor Christopher Costello.

My research interests are rooted in the fields of environmental and resource economics, and are informed by an overarching empirical approach. Alongside traditional econometrics, my research utilises economic theory and Bayesian methods. I am particularly excited by the prospects of big data and associated tools like machine learning for addressing longstanding environmental and social questions. This excitement dovetails with a large part of my current research brief at UCSB, which involves learning under uncertainty, Bayesian updating, and working with very large datasets such as those provided by our partnership with Global Fishing Watch.

On a personal note, I am married to Lorraine McDermott. We welcomed our first child to the family in 2015.