Meet the new ESPhil colleague: Melissa Vergara Fernandez

Photo: Paul Dudenhefer

Melissa Vergara Fernandez is a new postdoc at Erasmus School of Philosophy. We would like to welcome Melissa in the ESPhil community and would like to introduce her.

Where are you from? 
I was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. But The Netherlands is my home. I’ve been living in the Flatlands for more than a decade and have put down roots here. 

Where did you do your studies/What did you study?
I studied a BSc in economics at Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá. A bit later I started a second bachelor in art, with emphasis on electronic media. Once I was finished with my bachelor in economics it became clear to me that I wanted to pursue graduate studies in philosophy of economics. I decided to drop the last year of my bachelor in art and migrated to The Netherlands, to study a research master in  philosophy of economics at EIPE. The PhD, also at EIPE, followed. 

Why did you choose Erasmus School of Philosophy to do your postdoc?

I was ever so attracted to the opportunity to do research in the philosophy of science of financial economics. This is a subfield that has largely been neglected by philosophers of science. This is important work that was long overdue. The Erasmus Initiative for Inclusive Prosperity and EIPE are making it happen. I’m in a team with Conrad Heilmann, also at ESPhil, and Marta Szymanowska, a financial economist at RSM, doing research together and taking advantage of symbiotic collaboration. This was the place to be. 

Coming back to Rotterdam was also awfully attractive. At the time I was recruited I was spending time at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina. But in 2016 I had left Rotterdam to move up north, beyond what was once known as the Dutch Siberia. I was eager to be back in Rotterdam upon my return to The Netherlands. This is a wonderful city. It is my city. 

What is your research about?

I do research in the philosophy of economics. I have worked on philosophical theories of models and modelling as a scientific practice. I have been particularly interested in exploring how those philosophical theories fare in illuminating the use of models in macroeconomics. A great part of my research will now focus on models in financial economics and, more generally, the philosophy of science of financial economics. 

What are your expectations of the postdoc?

There’s still much to learn about economics from a philosophical perspective. I expect that the research we’re doing allows us to to understand financial economics better; the role it plays as a subfield in social science and as a massively important sector in the economy and society at large. The crux is, naturally, to ask the relevant questions that can contribute to reliable scientific practice. We’re aiming at that.

What are your first impressions of the Erasmus University and the city Rotterdam?
I first came to Rotterdam in 2009 as a master student at the EUR. So I know the University and Rotterdam well. I’ve seen both change massively. I much regretted when the trees to the southwest of the H building were removed. For the best part of my masters and some part of the PhD the university was a construction area. It’s great to be back and see that there’s some green again in the northern part of the campus. It’s certainly much prettier and thus pleasant to walk around. The city is more charming than ever. I do my runs along the Rijnhaven and the Maashaven crossing over the bridges and I can’t help falling in love with this city over and over. And that, naturally, without having properly experienced its hustle and bustle. It will will only get better, once we’re able to start socialising again.