Posted: 14 October 2013

At USU's May 2012 Commencement, Utah State alum Lars Peter Hansen (B.S. Mathematics, 1974) receives an honorary doctorate. Hansen was named a 2013 Nobel Prize recipient in Economics.

Lars Peter Hansen '74 Honored for Pioneering Research

Utah State University alum Lars Peter Hansen is one of three Americans named today as a recipient of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Economics. Hansen and Eugene Fama, both of the University of Chicago, along with Robert Shiller of Yale University, were recognized for their groundbreaking research on the workings of financial markets, asset prices and behavioral economics.


Born In Illinois, Hansen moved with his parents to Cache Valley, Utah, in 1968, where his father, the late R. Gaurth Hansen, a renowned biochemistry professor, served as provost at USU. The younger Hansen graduated from Logan High School and earned a degree in mathematics and political science from USU in 1974. His mother, longtime USU supporter Anna Lou Rees Hansen, resides in St. George, Utah.


According to the Nobel committee, Hansen, Fama and Shiller’s work “laid the foundation for the current understanding of asset prices” and sounded warnings for the most recent turn-of-the-century’s and housing bubbles.


“We are excited that Lars has received this well-deserved recognition,” says James MacMahon, dean of USU’s College of Science, which houses the university’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics. “We’ve followed his many accomplishments through the years and appreciate his faithful support of his alma mater.”


Hansen, who received an honorary doctorate from USU in 2012, fondly remembers his Aggie studies.


“My years at USU were very important to my development as a scholar,” he says. “I remember well the influences of my professors Mike Windham in mathematics, Bartell Jensen and Mike Lyons in economics and Doug Alder in history.”


Hansen says Windham’s classes gave him “a great perspective on mathematics.” He credits Jensen and Lyons with preparing him to pursue graduate studies in a top economics program at the University of Minnesota, where Hansen completed a doctorate in 1978. (In 2011, Hansen applauded his UM mentors Thomas Sargent and Christopher Sims from a front-row seat as the pair received that year’s Nobel Prize in Economics.)


Perhaps the most prescient advice came from his history professor.


“Dr. Alder told me ‘Do something special and don’t just imitate others,'” Hansen recalls.


He joined the University of Chicago in 1981, where he currently serves as the David Rockefeller Distinguished Service Professor in Economics and Statistics and is the inaugural Research Director for the Becker-Friedman Institute.


“Probability theory and statistics provide wonderful tools to explore financial economics,” Hansen says. “I expect they will continue to provide insights into the understanding of the economic underpinnings of financial markets just as they have served other scientific fields of endeavor.”


Hansen’s professional achievements are many. He is a 2011 recipient of the Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Economics, Finance and Management and a 2008 recipient of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group-Mathematical Sciences Research Institute Prize in Innovative Quantitative Applications.


In 2009, USU’s Huntsman School of Business honored Hansen with a Professional Achievement Award, given by the school “in recognition of individuals who achieve extraordinary success in their careers and demonstrate uncommon leadership in their communities.”

Hansen is a member of the National Academy of Science and American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a fellow of the Econometric Society and a fellow of the American Finance Association. He is a former John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow and a Sloan Foundation Fellow.


Hansen received the 2006 Erwin Plein Nemmers Prize in Economics from Northwestern University, a 1998 UChicago Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and, in 1984, was co-winner of the Frisch Medal from the Econometric Society.


He and his wife, Dr. Grace Tsiang, are the parents of a son, Peter.

Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto