Please update your browser.
Chris Wheat and Fiona Greig were elevated to Co-Presidents of the JPMorgan Chase Institute in January 2021. We sat down with them to discuss their vision, priorities, and what they’re looking forward to in the year ahead.
1. Where do you see the greatest opportunities for Institute research this year?
Chris: We have a robust agenda for 2021, which is largely examining the effects of COVID-19. In 2020, we launched our first pieces of research that examine race – that’s a critical research area we’re expanding in 2021 and hopefully is responsive to questions we’ve gotten from colleagues, decision makers, and other stakeholders over many years.
2. The Institute is now 5 years old – you’ve both been here since the beginning as Directors of Research – what are your vision and priorities for the next 5 years?
Fiona: The world of big data has changed over the last 5 years, and especially with COVID, new administrative data sources are coming online all the time. The Institute has been an important leader of this movement, and we are increasingly understanding the ways in which these data can uniquely inform policy debates and decisions. I’d like to see us connect directly with policymakers in an ongoing dialogue to ask, “Where are your blind spots? What do you need to know to make the best decision right now? How can we help you?”
3. We are living in a time of great uncertainty – what is keeping you hopeful as we begin 2021?
Chris: Seeing a new Administration that lifts up research as relevant to policy-making is certainly re-energizing, and their early prioritization of diversity is encouraging as well. I am also cautiously optimistic about mass vaccination getting us closer to seeing friends, family, and colleagues in-person!
Fiona: I see lots of “green shoots” – my 81-year-old mother-in-law getting a COVID vaccine, a new political environment that creates space for new voices and a more inclusive vision for our society and economy, and, quite literally, the tiny green tips of daffodils in my back patio, which, thanks to work-from-home, I watch grow every day.
4. What has been an unexpected “lesson” or silver lining of 2020 that you hope to bring to 2021?
Chris: Not having the long commute to DC every day is the clear silver lining for me. It has meant the world to our family, making it much easier for my wife and I to make a workable schedule around our newborn, and giving me the opportunity to have breakfast every day with my six-year-old, and just generally slowing our life down a bit. While it’s not clear we can bring that fully into 2021 and beyond, I hope there’s something I’m learning about how to find more time for things at home.
Fiona: Like many others, I’ve gotten to spend so much more time with my kids. And, for better or for worse, they’ve gotten to see (and hear!) me up close at work. My 7 year old daughter has decided she’s going to take up coding as “her thing.” Who knows if it will stick, but I’d like to bring into 2021 all the new ways in which we share and “zoom crash” into each others’ lives.