With Alisa Tazhitdinova assistant professor, Department of Economics
1. She was educated all over the world. Tazhitdinova was born in Russia and lived there for 19 years before her parents emigrated to Canada. As a result, she experienced both the Russian and Canadian educational systems (as well as time spent on exchange in Germany and a Ph.D. program at UC Berkeley). “It was a lot of fun to see how the systems are very different,” she says. “Russia is very strict, but they treat students like adults. Essentially, your grade is just the final exam. Canada and the U.S. kind-of hold your hand and give you lots of problem sets and midterms. Germany is in-between the two.” Her unique educational background also influences her own pedagogical methods: “In my teaching, I try to give some tough love, but I can’t go full Russia,” she says with a laugh.
2. Economics is in her blood. With parents who are both economist-trained, Tazhitdinova says that she has always known that she would follow their footsteps and go into the field. There was a time when she thought she might go work on Wall Street, but she is ultimately glad to have altered her career path. “The possibility of contributing something is what attracted me to academia,” she explains, noting that she also loves the flexibility.
3. She’s a bit of a tax geek. Tazhitdinova specializes in researching how individuals respond to tax incentives. Her work delves into which tax deduction or incentive programs work, why they work, and how they might be improved. Though they might be perceived by some as nerdy, she calls taxes “quirky and fun,” saying, “People don’t appreciate how much opportunity they give us to explore human behavior.”
4. She loves gardening and succulents. On weekends, you can find Tazhitdinova at the local nursery, picking out succulents for her large collection. She is such a fan of the plants that she even used her woodworking skills to make a rack in the shape of saguaro cactus. She plans to build shelf in the shape of an agave next.
5. She also enjoys budgeting (seriously!) An economist through and through, Tazhitdinova jokes that one of her hobbies is “spreadsheeting her life away.” She meticulously researches every major purchase decision and proudly says, “I know all of the numbers under every possible scenario exactly.”