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President Column

August 2022

The AAEA 2022 Meeting was the first I attended in person in two years. The pandemic kept me home, as I know it did for some of you this year. However, being in person at the Meeting this year felt good. Reconnecting with colleagues and friends I missed was heartening. Meeting new colleagues and having generative conversations were vital. Also, I loved watching AAEA members engage in lively debates, challenging each other to achieve a new understanding of important questions, and exploring fine points of complexity were signs of the “return to normal” for our profession. Despite the pandemic, we are making life work, and the meetings were a great testament to our resilience. Thank you to all who joined us in person and online. You all created an intellectually stimulating atmosphere. View the photographs from the 2022 AAEA Annual Meeting here.

Supporting this rich environment, we had a great group of plenary speakers. For the Gordon Rausser Keynote Address, we discussed engaging government and stakeholders with our research led by Shefali Mehta, former Deputy Under Secretary of USDA, and panelists Keith Coble, Lowell Randel, Kent Schescke, and Laura Wood Peterson. Awudu Abdulai, University of Kiel, gave the Fellows Address. He discussed information distribution and new crop varieties in developing countries. Robert Pindyck of MIT gave the Galbraith Forum on sustainable growth, production, and population. Lastly, my Presidential Address focused on justice issues in our discipline. Thank you for the warm comments, as that presentation was a labor of love. In subsequent letters, I will discuss ways for members to share their justice work in applied economics.

Our meeting participation was strong. We had 1,352 registered participants, higher than our meetings in 2021. We offered a full hybrid version so that every session was available online. Of the registered participants, we had 228 registered virtual participants. Our share of registered hybrid participants was nearly 17%, substantially smaller than the 50% share in 2021. Thus, the demand for in-person participation was strong. While we were pleased to offer the hybrid version, we took on higher costs to provide the hybrid option. We had over 150 concurrent sessions with nine virtual selected paper sessions and 222 posters with three virtual poster sessions. 

Our membership numbers remain strong at 2,813 at the end of June 2022, slightly below 2021 but higher than in 2018 and 2019. Our 26 sections reflect the breadth of our membership’s research, teaching, and extension programs and diversity. This year, we added the Southeast Asian Section. Congratulations and Welcome!

Our membership is our greatest asset, and we value you. As a Board, we discussed several topics important to the membership. A challenging topic that we discussed was the future locations of AAEA meetings. We have members who have expressed concerns about the locations of future meetings in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling. Unfortunately, no easy solution exists in this new environment, and discussions of these topics are inherently political and fraught with complexity. We, nevertheless, are working to find solutions to support the membership.

Because we have settled on meeting locations for the next four years, location changes would be extremely costly. However, to ensure that members have access to the meetings, we will continue to offer some version of a hybrid conference; we are exploring what version will best serve the diverse needs of our membership. We are working to balance the high costs of hybrid meetings and members’ concerns about attending in person. We continue to explore the best ways to support all of our members. Thus, we want to hear from you about your ideas on how best to manage costs, ease access, and support the environmental and health concerns of hosting our meetings in various locations. Please reach out to Kristen McGuire, AAEA Executive Director, at or me at

We continue to work on meeting the expectations of our strategic plan. To do so, we encourage greater connectivity by the Sections hosting symposia, workshops, or endorsed events outside the annual meetings. These mechanisms are useful to encourage exchanges that can spur innovation within the AAEA. Another important way to meet our expectations of the strategic plan is to develop metrics and track them for various goals of our plan. One goal that we are developing these metrics to support our efforts of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). We are supporting future DEI surveys of the membership. Through these and other efforts, we hope to continue to make the AAEA a vibrant intellectual community.

Lastly, thank you for your participation in the AAEA. We are healthy, our journals are doing well, and our finances are solid. I am honored and pleased to step into the role of AAEA President. Thank you to Past-President Madhu Khanna. With grace and wisdom, Madhu helped us navigate difficult discussions. She fostered innovative mentoring activities focusing on transdisciplinary collaborations. Madhu, you did a phenomenal job! Thanks to outgoing Board Members Tim Beatty, Elena Irwin, and Past-President Dawn Thilmany-McFadden. Additional thanks to continuing Board Members Amy Ando, Titus Awokuse, Andrew Muhammad, and Carola Grebitus. We are excited to welcome President-Elect Rudy Nayga and new Board Members Asilhan Spaulding and Glynn Tonsor. I could report none of these good things without mentioning the great work of Section Leaders and the membership. You make the AAEA great! Thank you!

Norbert Wilson
AAEA President