This year, the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College welcomed 11 new faculty members into the Lerner community. Daniel Lee comes to Lerner from Sweet Briar College and joins us as an assistant professor of entrepreneurship. Lee spoke with Lerner about his passion for entrepreneurship, as well as why he chose to come to the University of Delaware.
Lerner: What is your professional and academic background?
Lee: I have a bachelor of arts from Emory University for math and economics with high honors, a master of arts from Georgia State University for economics, a Ph.D. from Georgia State University for economics, a postdoc at Rice University for entrepreneurship and innovation. I served as an assistant professor at Sweet Briar College for economics and leadership.
Lerner: What is your research focus?
Lee: I use large-scale RCTs and experimental methods to research innovation-driven ecosystems. RCT is a “Randomized Control Trial,” it’s basically a way of running an experiment where the researcher can randomly (by running a lottery or throwing a die) assign groups, similar to how medical studies are conducted. The reason we do this with a medical study is because we don’t want some underlying feature of the data to influence our results.
Lerner: What inspired you to work in your field, research or subject area?
Lee: My background is in experimental economics, but I grew attracted to entrepreneurship as a research area because its inherent scarcity provides an ideal crucible to test some of our leading economic hypotheses. Think of the current problems society is facing with COVID: the people who are getting vaccinated have different underlying behaviors and traits than the people who are not, so it is difficult to comment on vaccines using observational data alone. The reasons we know vaccines are safe and effective is because doctors and scientists run RCTs: where some people randomly get vaccinated while others randomly get placebos, and from there we can compare results in a clean and organized fashion.
Lerner: What is it about UD that made you want to work, teach and research here?
Lee: My professorship is a Goldilocks position, it fits me just right! When I first visited Horn and Lerner, I was struck by how familiar it all felt. I mean this in the best way possible, and I imagine the same is true for other students, faculty and staff. The UDel community is a place we can all belong.
Lerner: What course are you most excited to teach at Lerner?
Lee: ENTRE350 – Introduction to Entrepreneurship.
Lerner: What is something unique about you that may surprise your peers and students?
Lee: My first job was as a dishwasher.