Remembering Catherine Morrison Paul: Economist, Mentor, and Friend

By Ron Felthoven and Jim Kirkley

Catherine Morrison Paul was born June 17, 1953, in Champaign, Ill. Cathy received her doctoral degree in economics at the University of British Columbia in 1982 under the tutelage of Erwin Diewert. She then spent 13 years on the faculty of Tufts University, where she served as chair of the economics department and developed her rigorous research program on cost and productivity measurement. In 1995, she joined the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. Her research primarily involved economic modeling and measuring technological change and market structure and performance. In 1996, she ranked 15th in the economics profession for research productivity as measured by publication in the top 36 economics journals. Overall, throughout her career, she published more than 60 peer-reviewed articles in prestigious economics journals.

Cathy’s studies spanned diverse topics and industries, ranging from price markup behavior and product diversity to regulatory reform. She developed numerous innovative empirical approaches that have subsequently been used by many other economists. Morrison Paul’s research produced platforms for addressing key issues facing the U.S. food system, such as cost structure and market power in the meat packing industry and environmental consequences from pesticide use in agricultural production. In around 2001, Cathy’s focus shifted to fisheries.

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service was grappling with questions related to defining and estimating fishing capacity as part of an international effort to reduce overcapacity, and Cathy played an integral role in developing metrics and empirical approaches to inform the issue. By participating on expert committees and writing several scientific papers, Cathy contributed greatly to this process. In recent years Cathy continued to devote intellectual energy to fisheries and began addressing policy-related questions about management and regulation of fisheries, while recognizing characteristics that are specific to the fishing industry, including regulatory distortions, environmental and stock factors, and bycatch. Cathy and her co-authors worked to broaden standard measures of economic performance measurement to accommodate the nuances and externalities present in fisheries.

Cathy was serving as associate editor of the Journal of Productivity Analysis at the time of her death. She had previously served as associate editor of the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Empirical Economics. In addition to carrying out her own research program, she also spent a considerable amount of time mentoring and working with students.

Personal notes from Ron Felthoven: Those that knew Cathy will remember her as having superior intellect and wit, and being generous in spirit and kindness. Cathy was tenacious and dedicated to her work, but also experienced so much more and relished having a good time with friends and family above all else. When she told me that she used to ride a Harley-Davidson I wasn’t surprised. Nor was I surprised when she prepared a delicious meal of beef Bourguignon and entertained a house full of guests with funny stories and a lot of good wine. Cathy was all about experiencing what life had to offer. I think what I will remember about Cathy the most is her laugh -- so distinctive, infectious, and uplifting. She will be sorely missed in many ways.

Personal notes from Jim Kirkley: Cathy was involved in fisheries only a short time, but she made tremendous contributions in terms of advancing the state of the art, and in particular, meeting the need for solid microeconomic analysis in fisheries. She became a mentor to me in the late 90s and really pushed me to conduct solid analyses. If you ever met Cathy, you immediately loved her; she had great social graces and was immensely competent. She was willing to work on just about anything related to production theory and applied analysis. She willingly gave of her intellectual capital, and that was a lot, to everyone and anyone. She had a lot of contributions still to make to fisheries. We hope that those of us who had the wonderful pleasure of working with and knowing Cathy will all continue in the path she took us--our best applied work.

The family prefers that any memorial contributions be made to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.