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Awards and Recognition: Distinguished Faculty Award 2010

Dr. Elinor Ostrom

Elinor OstromEver since she was a graduate student at UCLA more than 45 years ago, when she observed civic and commercial interests in Los Angeles figuring out how to stop salt water from contaminating the city’s groundwater, Distinguished Professor Elinor “Lin” Ostrom has been bringing people together to solve problems.

Her life’s work on the management of common-pool resources such as watersheds and forests was recognized at the highest level last fall, when she was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. She was the first woman and the first non-economist to win the prize, sharing it with Oliver Williamson of the University of California–Berkeley. The academy said she “challenged the conventional wisdom that common property is poorly managed and should be either regulated by central authorities or privatized.”

Ostrom, the Arthur F. Bentley professor of political science and professor of public and environmental affairs at IU, was the first woman chair of IU’s political science department and the first woman president of the American Political Science Association.

With her husband, Vincent, she co-founded IU’s Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, where she is senior research director. Researchers travel from around the world to collaborate on projects at the Workshop.

Ostrom’s reputation extends beyond her research to her extraordinary support of her graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. She has served on dissertation or advisory committees for more than 130 doctoral students, and she continues to take an interest in their careers.

Ostrom is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society and is Robert A. Dahl Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. She also is research professor and founding director of the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity at Arizona State University.