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BRIDGEPORT, Pa. — The CWPA Remote club interview series continues as Mike Shannon of the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) talks with the Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of New York University’s Faculty of Arts and Science Dr. Antonio Merlo.

A distinguished political economist who previously served as Dean of the School of Social Sciences and a chaired economics professor at Rice University, as well as director of the Rice Initiative for the Study of Economics, Merlo received his Ph.D. from NYU and was previously a member of NYU’s economics and politics faculty. During his years as a graduate student, he launched NYU’s water polo program; in addition to his academic roles at Rice, he has served as head coach of the university’s water polo programs.

Dean Merlo’s areas of scholarly interest include political economy, policy analysis, public economics, bargaining theory and applications, and empirical microeconomics. His research interests include the economics of crime, voting, the career decisions of politicians, the formation and dissolution of coalition governments, the industrial organization of the political sector, household bargaining, and the study of the residential housing market. He has published numerous articles in the leading economics journals, including the American Economic Review, Econometrica, the Journal of Political Economy, and the Review of Economic Studies. In 2018, he authored an innovative political economy textbook for undergraduates, “Political Economy and Policy Analysis” (Routledge). His numerous awards and honors include being elected a Fellow of the Econometric Society; the Pareto Lecture in Economics and Social Sciences; being a Peden Senior Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge; and the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Merlo began his academic career in 1992 as an assistant professor of economics at the University of Minnesota, where he was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 1998. Between 1998 and 2000 he held a joint appointment in the Department of Economics and the Department of Politics at New York University. In 2000, he joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, where he held the Lawrence R. Klein Chair of Economics and the Directorship of the Penn Institute for Economic Research (PIER) until 2014. He was also the chair of the economics department from 2009 to 2012. In 2014, Merlo joined Rice University as the George A. Peterkin Professor of Economics, the chair of the economics department, and the Founding Director of the Rice Initiative for the Study of Economics (RISE). From 2016 to 2019, he served as dean of the Rice University School of Social Sciences.  In March 2019, Merlo returned to his alma mater as the Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of NYU’s Faculty of Arts and Science and Professor of Economics.

From 2008 to 2014, Merlo was the head coach of the men’s water polo team of the University of Pennsylvania. He led the Penn Quakers to three championship titles in the Mid-Atlantic Division in 2008, 2010, and 2013, the 2013 Ivy League Collegiate Club Championship and a Fifth Place finish at the National Collegiate Club Championship in 2013.  From 2016 to 2019, Merlo was the head coach of the men’s and women’s water polo teams at Rice. In addition, he has been the recipient of the Coach of the Year Award for his teams’ division in 2013 (Men’s Mid-Atlantic Division), 2017 (Women’s Texas Division), and 2018 (Men’s Texas Division).

A first-generation college graduate, he received his undergraduate degree summa cum laude in economics and social sciences from Bocconi University of Italy in 1987. He received his Ph.D. in economics from NYU in 1992, where he received the Dean’s Outstanding Dissertation Award. He also received an honorary M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2000.

The CWPA Remote series is intended to provide both varsity and collegiate club coaches, athletes, alumni and more a forum to discuss the sport of water polo.


Collegiate Water Polo Association