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Persistence: How to Drive Success as an Academic. An Interview with Professor Marc Bellemare


Marc Bellemare, even though Marc has his PhD he prefers to be called “Professor” (as opposed to “Doctor”) and often will tell his students to refer to him by his first name. Professor Bellemare primarily teaches APEC 3071 and APEC 8702.

Years with the University:

Marc has been with the University for 4 years. He started in late 2013 and sees himself with the University for the indefinite future.

Current projects/research:

Bellemare strongly believes that research is a collaborative process, and as such, assists his graduate students on their research. Despite doing a \ majority of other research on his own, he often co-authors with his grad students and is currently a co-author with all three of his students that are graduating this year.

His favorite thing to research is applied economics. In particular, any question that has yet to be answered that relates to food policy in the US or abroad and is of relevant policy to something he is already interested in.

The hardest topic he has ever had to research was his job market paper entitled, “3 Essays on Agrarian Contracts.” He had to present his research in a seminar and even though he had the idea for it in 2002 he didn’t publish his work until 2012. During this time, he spent a year in Madagascar collecting primary evidence. Through the 10-year process of publishing his work, he said it evolved repeatedly as he proved his original thoughts incorrect and had to continuously change what he thought he was trying to explain. What made this particular work difficult was the combination of it being his first time coming up with an idea and researching it till the end. Bellemare explained that “Research is different than taking tests and studying;” stepping out for the first time and being independent, trying to find funding, creating a theory, and finding a way to articulate it is an incredibly difficult challenge to manage.

“Persistence is the one thing that drives success as an academic.”

Advice for ApEc students:

  • Know that there are three dimensions to an academic. Teaching, which is the most obvious, researching, and service. Faculty are expected to advise, be on committees, and governing bodies within the university.

  • Take as much econometrics as you can. Bellemare believes this will be the number one skill the private sector will look for. Econometrics allows you to take a data set and estimate relationships between variables, which is something you can’t learn on your own.

  • Study abroad!

  • Take a gap year once you are done. At age 21/22 you are not supposed to have your life set yet. Go and do work that is unrelated, something like tend bar in Ireland. It will change how you see the world.

  • Get involved! Do anything that involves community life, this is what keeps you interested in being here. When class is hard, work is stressful, and everything seems to be against you, if you are involved on campus you have an outlet to reset.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Bellemare doesn’t have much free time between being a full-time professor, father, and husband. He does, however, likes to read and cook, he plays guitar and loves traveling. He even made a 2017 goal to cook a new recipe at least once a week.

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences,
Department of Applied Economics
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