SFU Economics welcome Serena Canaan as assistant professor

November 25, 2021

This fall, Serena Canaan joins Simon Fraser University (SFU)'s Department of Economics as an assistant professor. Together in a joint faculty appointment with her partner Pierre Mouganie, they made the move here from their home country of Lebanon. 

After completing her doctoral degree in economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara, Canaan went on to become an assistant professor at the American University of Beirut (AUB), where she has worked for the past five years. As an applied microeconomist, Canaan's research focuses on family economics and the economics of education, in particular how educational policies and programs affect student academic success. 

Some of Canaan's research looks specifically at the gender gap and its impact on women — for example, she is driven by an interest in understanding the determinants of women's access and persistence in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). She has also conducted research examining how parental leave programs impact women's labour market outcomes, their children's development, and the firms' performance. 

Canaan explains the motivation behind her research focus, "What sparked my interest in this type of research is learning that educational interventions and government policies can be a powerful tool to improve the economic outcomes of disadvantaged groups."

At the moment, Canaan is studying how the practice of separating students into achievement-based schools or classrooms affect their long-term education outcomes as well as their decisions regarding marriage and fertility. Another project also in the works examines how religious diversity in university affects students' prejudice towards members of other religions. 

Using data from AUB, she conducted several studies on how academic advising can improve educational outcomes among post-secondary students. Having spent several years at AUB as a student and later on as a faculty member, this research was significant to Canaan both on a professional and personal level as she knew first-hand the positive influence academic advising had on students.

Although Canaan has conducted a lot of interesting and meaningful research throughout her academic career, she is most proud of her work that have the potential to create positive impact in her community. She goes on to say, "I am proud that I was able to publish these studies in economics journals, especially since studies in economics focusing on Lebanon are quite scarce."

As Canaan settles into her new role at SFU, she is excited to work with other researchers in the Department and explore new possibilities within the field of economics, "Many of the faculty conduct very interesting and important economics research, and I am looking forward to collaborating with them on new projects."