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Elsa Massoc

Born in Paris, she had a background in history and philosophy and had written a master’s thesis comparing the different bank bailout programs in Europe. She was poised to take a position as a lobbyist in Brussels when a professor she admired encouraged her to further pursue her research in political economy. What clinched the decision? She says, “The possibility to be funded, and to be funded in a very decent way, is completely what made me decide to continue with research and come here.”
Elsa is supported at Berkeley by a graduate fellowship in political science from the Harold Wilensky Fund, which was created with the remaining principal from a charitable gift annuity. Harold Wilensky, professor emeritus of political science at Berkeley, was a pioneer in the study of the welfare state and social policy. He made major contributions to understanding the impact of industrial transformation on the structure, culture, and politics of modern society. Berkeley’s reputation as a hub for breakthrough thinking drew Elsa to continue her work here. She notes,
This is a place where you can come and say, ‘I have an idea,’ and people respond  ‘Let’s try it.’
Focusing on the social study of finance, Elsa’s research at Berkeley engages the expertise of faculty and peers working in economics, sociology, and geography to understand how changes in the financial industry impact corporations and people in their everyday lives. “I never would have believed that I could work with these people before coming here,” she says. “The faculty is wonderful and the students are great. I’ve found an intellectual community that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to find elsewhere. It’s something I’ll have for life.”