Robert M. Townsend is the Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics at MIT. He is currently a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Econometric Society, as well as an Elected Member of the National Academy of Sciences. His recent work focuses on analyzing the role and contributions of financial systems on developing economies. He was awarded the Frisch Medal in 1998 for his study of risk and insurance in village India and was the recipient of the Jean-Jacques Laffont Prize in 2011. Townsend has undertaken large scale village surveys in Thailand since 1997 and was awarded a second Frisch Medal in 2012 for the structural evaluation of a large-scale microfinance program in Thailand.