Wilbur Townsend joined Motu in early 2016 after finishing a Masters degree in economics and undergraduate degrees in philosophy and mathematics. For his Masters he produced two pieces of research: one asking whether legalising medical marijuana affects crime rates (it doesn’t), the other asking whether past employment affected the probability of future employment (it does). That latter research was supervised by Motu’s Dean Hyslop, and he will be continuing his research into dynamic models of employment while at Motu. As a student, Motu awarded Wilbur the Sir Frank Holmes Prize for undergraduate econometrics.
To ensure his entire youth was wasted away in university computer labs, Wilbur also wrote for his student magazine, Salient. He was awarded the 2014 Aotearoa Student Press Award for political writing. He was also employed by Victoria University as a tutor and as a research assistant. His research assistant work was in computational economics: first developing software to solve game theoretical models, later using existing software to study the macroeconomics of income inequality. Wilbur also interned at an engineering research agency in Singapore. This taught him much about power grids.