CSH Talk by Christian Chacua “The Evolution of American Academic Research Throughout the 20th Century”

Nov 24, 2023 | 15:0016:00

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Christian Chacua (Harvard Growth Lab) will present a talk on Friday, November 24, from 3 – 4 PM in the Salon.



Title: The Evolution of American Academic Research Throughout the 20th Century




American academic research transitioned from a provincial and peripheral position in the scientific world to a global leader in less than 100 years. We study how US research universities emerged through the lens of the scientists who have driven their scientific development. Specifically, we look at the academic careers of multiple generations of leading US scientists to understand the reliance of US academia on foreigners and foreign education throughout the 20th century. We digitized more than 700k biographical entries of around 230k leading North American scientists to identify where their academic research skills come from and how they impacted the trajectories of their hosting US universities. We find that US academic research was highly reliant on German-educated scientists until the early 1900s. Over the 20th century, US academia became less reliant on foreign education and more reliant on foreign-born scientists. Among US-educated scientists, placement possibilities have become progressively limited by institutional prestige.




Christian is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Growth Lab, affiliated with the Center for International Development at Harvard University. He joined the Growth Lab in 2019, starting as a visiting research fellow, moving to a research associate in 2020, and to a postdoctoral fellow in 2022. His research focuses on understanding the geographical distribution of knowledge and the diffusion of scientific and technological capabilities through the migration of high-skilled workers. His academic pursuits encompass a range of subjects, including the economics of science, the geography of innovation, the science of science, high-skilled migration, and the diffusion of knowledge. Christian holds a Ph.D. in Economics of Science and Innovation, as well as a Master’s in Economic Intelligence, Innovation, and Territories from the University of Bordeaux (France). He also obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the Universidad del Valle (Colombia). In addition, he has been a visiting researcher at the University of Barcelona (Spain) and the University College of Dublin (Ireland). Beyond his scholarly endeavors, Christian has contributed to policy advising projects centered around science and innovation. His collaborations extend to international organizations such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (Switzerland). For more insights into his ongoing research, you can explore his website: christianchacua.com.



Nov 24, 2023


Frank Neffke


Complexity Science Hub Vienna
Josefstaedter Straße 39
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