Zack Dorner

Zack came to Motu in November 2011 to complete an internship in environmental economics, and stayed on through 2012 as a research analyst. He worked with Suzi Kerr on policy design for agricultural emissions, building on AgResearch work and working with the AgDialogue group.

Zack was a part of the first New Zealand Youth Delegation to the international climate change negotiations, which went to Copenhagen in 2009. He served for a year and a half on the Victoria University of Wellington Student Association’s (VUWSA) Executive as the Environmental Officer, and has run for Parliament twice for the Green Party. His research interests include climate change policy, land use, water and behavioural/experimental economics.

What was your background before joining Motu?
I completed a BA in Economics and Environmental Studies at Victoria University of Wellington.

Why did you choose to come here?
I wanted to get some experience working on my passion - environment, from an economic and public policy perspective. I applied for the summer internship in 2011 and was very happy to be one of two interns chosen that year (from memory!).

What were the highlights of your time at Motu?
There were many, but here are two. First, being around a group of very driven but approachable economists who inspired me to keep following the research career path. Second, being given the opportunity to interact with a wide range of people, from farmers with an interest in climate change policy, to some of the worlds top environmental economists who were hosted at a BBQ one night when they were visiting NZ for a workshop.

How has your career progressed since you left Motu?
I went on to complete an Honours degree in Economics at VUW, followed by a PhD in Economics at Monash University in Melbourne. I've been lucky to be able to land my dream job back in NZ a couple of years ago, as Lecturer in Environmental Economics at University of Waikato.

How has your Motu experience affected your subsequent path?
It showed me the importance of always pushing yourself to complete work of the highest quality that you can, and part of that is to make sure you are always working with and studying with the best people you can.

What advice do you have for early career economists?
Follow your interests, and work with people who push you but also who you enjoy working with, as these factors are all important to keep your motivation up and keep you progressing. I would also add to make sure you read widely and talk with lots of different people. Not only is it important to keep broadening your perspectives, but it can help you identify research ideas that no other economists have yet pursued.