An economics professor at Virginia Tech has been recognized for his outreach efforts in the Middle East.

Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, professor of economics in the College of Science has been honored with the college’s Outreach Award for 2010. Salehi-Isfahani’s specialty is economic development in the Middle East. He has been a leader in promoting the use of economic data and statistical models in guiding Middle East policy-making.

“Djavad has consistently focused his research efforts on topics that help make progress toward the goal of improving the lives of people in the Middle East,” said Sheryl Ball, associate department head.

“The Middle East has lagged behind other regions of the world in the capability to conduct policy analysis of the major issues it faces,” Salehi-Isfahani said. “To understand these issues, and devise good policy solutions, the region needs cadre of applied economists with the statistical tools for policy analysis.

Salehi-Isfahani is a Visiting Fellow at the Wolfensohn Center for Department at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., where he leads a research program on the Middle East Youth Initiative. The project focuses on critical policy issues surrounding education, employment, and transition to family life for youth in Middle Eastern countries. In addition, he has raised funds and organized training workshops in the Middle East on how to conduct policy analysis using survey data.

“The success of Djavad’s outreach activities contributes directly to the success of his own academic research as well as that of his graduate students,” Ball said.

In 1998 he taught a workshop in Tehran funded by the World Bank and Economic Research Forum and hosted by Iran’s Statistical Center. From this venture, he has gained better access to Iran’s statistical data, which he uses in his own research and that of his graduate students.

Salehi-Isfahani created an undergraduate course on Middle Eastern development, and his expertise is sought by politicians and journalists from around the world.

“Professor Salehi-Isfahani played a catalytic role in the development of the field of labor and human development economics, not only by contributing himself to this field but also getting a group of researchers to do so,” said Ahmed Galal, managing director of the Economic Research Forum in Cairo, Egypt.

Salehi-Isfahani earned his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University and joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 1984.

Related links:

  • Read Salehi-Isfahani’s editorial in the latest issue of Virginia Tech Research Magazine: “Iran’s contested election: Populism and youth power”
  • Read about Salehi-Isfahani and other newsmakers in the College of Science.