Dr Nina Bobkova joins EUI as Assistant Professor in Economics from Bonn University in Germany. On a particularly hot and humid Thursday afternoon in the Villa Badia’s mensa, she spoke to EUI Life about her academic interests, the “special” environment of EUI, and her Slavic tolerance for mosquitos.
As Assistant Professor in Economics, Dr Bobkova will be teaching information economics within the microeconomics series. Her research focus is on microeconomic theory, “in particular strategic environments like auctions, elections.” The topic that she will be addressing, she says, is “how do people select their information? If they can’t learn everything that there is, how does the environment or institution of the game, voting, election, influence how and about what they learn?
“For example, if there is a party in an election and you want to research whether it’s a candidate that you want or not. He might be able to push through a majority or not, you don’t know that, and at the same time you don’t know if the kindergarten he’s going to build is going to be next to your house, or the opposite side of the city, which is useless for you. You can’t learn both perfectly, so what do you decide to focus on? What do you seek information about? Where the kindergarten is going to be built, which is specifically important for you, or something like whether the candidate is able to push through a majority or not, which matters for the entire electorate? So how do you select your information?”
For Dr Bobkova, who studied and worked at Bonn, and spent a year in London at UCL and another in the USA at Yale, EUI and Florence are a new experience. “So far I’m absolutely loving it”, she says. “I love the atmosphere, it seems to be a very special place. It’s easier to get in touch with students and talk to them about what they’re interested in than in other places. And looking out of the window, it’s a fantastic place to be. Coming from Germany to Italy, it’s very different.” In the “cosy environment” of the economics department, Dr Bobkova says, “it’s much easier to get in contact with people than it is in a larger university environment, especially with people in different fields. We all work in the same building, and we see each other for lunch.”
As for her interests outside the classroom, Dr Bobkova tells me that “learning Italian is very high on the agenda. It’s possible to survive without it, but it’s not about surviving, it’s about being part of the community.” In her spare time she is also a keen climber and boulderer: “I’m excited about the opportunities for climbing around the area. There are so many mountains close by – and even a hillside by my house, which is mocking me on my way to work every day.”
As fellow new arrivals in Italy, our conversation predictably turns to the weather – and the mosquitos. Dr Bobkova is immune to their irritations: “I grew up in Moscow until the age of 7, and when you go out of the city to the dachas, there are swarms of mosquitos flying around, and as a kid you’re used to it.” Enviably, she adds, she does not have to deal with many of them now: “At home I have a dog, and she eats the mosquitos, so the trick is to get her in my bedroom so she’ll eat all of them. Not all dogs do it, but my dog is particular.”
EUI Life extends a warm welcome to our new Assistant Professor, and hopes one day to also have a mosquito-eating dog.