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Government Department Hires Two Senior Faculty from Princeton

Princeton University.

UPDATED: February 2, 2018 at 4:55 p.m.

Princeton political science professors Christina Davis '93 and Kosuke Imai, who earned a Ph.D. in Government from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, will join Harvard’s Government department next year as full professors. Davis will also be appointed the Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard.

Davis said she studies “international relations with a focus on international trade, East Asia, and how East Asia engages with trade,” while Imai “develops statistical and machine-learning techniques for analyzing data to answer questions in social sciences.”

Both professors already have Harvard affiliations, and Davis said her “Harvard loyalty” was one reason she decided to return.

They also said Harvard’s larger size and wider resources were reasons to switch universities. Imai said Harvard is “very attractive because it’s a much larger university, and it has professional schools.” He said these schools each have some faculty focused on statistics and machine learning.

“There’s a really big community who share interests with myself,” Imai said.

“Harvard will present new opportunities,” Davis said, “Harvard is a very large university and I look forward to reaching out beyond just political science. The Reischauer Institute will be a great resource for me, as well as the Law School.”

Government Department Chair Jennifer L. Hochschild said that Dean of Social Sciences Claudine Gay authorized one new hire for the department in any field.

“[The search committee] started with a list of 140 people who… for some reason or other were clearly prominent, and they worked their way down from 140 to Christina Davis. And we were really smitten with Kosuke Imai, as well.”

The two professors are married and made the decision to move together, choosing Harvard over offers from other universities, including Stanford and Columbia.

Hochschild said that the Government department has shrunk in size recently, making the new hires critical.

“At our peak, now 10 years ago, we had 48 FTEs, full time equivalents…now we have 42,” she said. “We have several very prominent professors who have retired, Professor Bates, Putnam, Dominguez, Alt either all have recently retired or are in the process. And we have a few people who are mid-career who went to another university."

Invigorated by their success with Davis and Imai, Hochschild said the Government department has offered two more positions to another couple who would join the department as junior faculty next year, but has not yet heard back.

Hochschild said the department is also currently running searches “for both senior and junior faculty,” although they don’t yet have authorization to hire next year.

Professors Davis and Imai said they are looking forward to working with students as well as faculty.

“My goal is to show students that the applications of statistics and machine learning to the social sciences can be as fascinating as developing those methods as a computer scientist or statistician,” Imai said.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

UPDATED: January 27, 2017

A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Kosuke Imai as a graduate of Harvard College. In fact, he earned a Ph.D. in Government from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 2003.

—Staff writer Cecilia R. D'Arms can be reached at cecilia.d'arms@thecrimson.com.

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