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figure 1 When Nick Paulson took an ag econ course his senior year of college, his education took an unexpected turn. “I went to Iowa State in 1998 and majored in ag engineering,” said Paulson. “In my senior year I took an ag econ course. The professor was impressed with a term paper I wrote, and he somehow convinced me to go to graduate school for a master's in ag econ.”

So Paulson switched out of ag engineering, still with no intention of getting a PhD. “I did think a master's in ag econ would probably help me get a better job,” he said. “Then I ended up really liking it, so after a year I upgraded to the PhD program. Once I got through my course work and started to do research, I was really drawn to it. I was working very hard, but I was working on interesting problems that I wanted to work on.” Paulson's research for his PhD focused on decision-making under uncertainty as it related to the input use and contracting and insurance decisions of farmers, and the US markets for corn-based ethanol and soy- based biodiesel.

Paulson joined the ACE faculty in the fall of 2007, and today he is an assistant professor in agricultural and consumer economics. He teaches an undergraduate course in finance and financial decision-making for individuals and small businesses, and a graduate course on statistics and regression analysis methods.

Paulson's current research focuses on risk management. “I've done work in biofuels research - ethanol and biodiesel topics - and I've also done a lot of work in crop insurance.” Other research interests include individual's and household's risk management portfolio decisions, the analysis of the design and effectiveness of ag policy, the impact of the recent financial crisis on production agriculture, and the impact of emerging markets for carbon on production agriculture.

As a member of the farmdoc team, Paulson contributes to the Policy section. “My activities deal primarily with changes in ag policy related to producer risk management,” he said, “with specific focus on the ACRE program from both producer and policy perspectives.”

Paulson grew up on a corn and soybean farm in southeastern Minnesota, near the town of Albert Lea. The farm has been in his family for almost 100 years, and he has nothing but praise for the job his father does. “My dad is an amazing farmer. He's got just a little less than 3,000 acres. He hires a few laborers for planting and fall harvest, but most of the time it's just him. It would have been tough to follow in his footsteps.”

However, Paulson doesn't rule out the possibility of someday returning to the family farm. “I never wanted to when I was younger, but as I got older, it became something I wanted to do,” he said. “I'm not anticipating it for the next 20 years or so, but at some point, who knows?  I don't want the farm to end.”

Paulson's outside interests include golf and cycling. He appreciates the flat terrain and paved county roads in central Illinois when riding his bike and enjoys playing the many area golf courses. “I've been playing golf for about 15 years, and I love it. I don't get to play enough to be good,” he said, “but I don't embarrass myself.”

For his part, Paulson is very pleased to be a part of the faculty in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics and a member of the farmdoc team. “I have an amazing opportunity to work in my area with people who are established experts,” he concluded. “It's a really good fit for me.” 

To learn more about Nick Paulson, visit his homepage here.


Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics    College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
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