Economically driven

Flint O'Neil

5 minute read

As an aspiring economist, Flint O’Neil was drawn to the field not only because of its pivotal properties but also the philosophy that underscores it. Now, across the Atlantic in the Ivy League research institution of Yale University, Flint is a Pre-doctoral Fellow in the prestigious Tobin Center's Macroeconomics Research program, probing the mathematical theories underlying various recessions.

“This program will utilise the unique skills that I learned at The Australian National University (ANU) to conduct research in theoretical macroeconomics. I will be working on a paper that creates a model of the macroeconomy where individual markets can temporarily disappear. For instance, how the market for financial derivatives dried up in 2008. The paper will trace the effects of market disappearance on the allocation of resources across the rest of the economy,” shared Flint, who studied at the ANU Mathematical Sciences Institute and the ANU Research School of Economics.

While he believes that economics is “a framework to solutions” across the world, Flint also asserts that his understanding and academic ambitions of the field were only cemented at ANU.  

I came to ANU because it had the best research opportunities in Australia. After high school, I knew I did not just want a graduate job from university - I wanted to engage in research.

Given his aspiration to be an economist, Flint was advised by the University’s academic faculty to study a combination of economics and mathematics. An economics degree would develop his familiarity with how to think about problems from an economic lens. Whereas, a degree in mathematics would train him to think deeply and abstractly while providing the tools to undertake independent research.

“The faculty at ANU provided me with an intensely supportive network and an amazing faculty to student ratio. As an undergraduate, I was even able to take a one-on-one course in dynamic programming with an esteemed economist here, which was a tremendously valuable experience,” he shared.

While studying at ANU, he was also offered unique opportunities to work in the University’s research labs such as QuantEcon. “The fellowship I received at Yale explicitly noted that their work would draw from models found in the QuantEcon library,” he added.

Aside from the courses and faculty that facilitated his foundation in economics, Flint distinctly recalls how the campus community at ANU helped him settle in.

“I grew up in Brisbane, mostly living with my mum. She was a single mum receiving an unemployment pension for as long as I can remember and we often had to live in hostels for Aboriginal women. To be honest, it was very easy to settle in at ANU as many students come from out of town and everyone is very friendly. Every faculty member I spoke with was inspiring and nurturing. They all made me feel at home,” he recalled.

After graduating from ANU, Flint asserts that his personal and academic outlook significantly changed, particularly regarding his views on work-life balance.

“I used to believe that in order to do well I would have to study non-stop. After studying at ANU, I have realised that having breaks is actually productive, especially if you're thinking about hard academic problems. I now ensure I mix in exercise and socialising with study,” he explained.

After the fellowship at Yale, Flint hopes to start a PhD in financial economics or macroeconomics. Regardless, his ultimate goal is to return to Canberra and ANU as an academic.

The ANU College of Business and Economics offers an extensive range of specialised programs in Economics. Click here for more details.