| 18 August 2004
Grace Katagiri, manager of the Department of Economics Econometrics Laboratory and of the Institute of Business and Economic Research's new research facility, the Experimental Social Science Laboratory (XLab), died Wednesday, July 21, of complications from pancreatic cancer. She was 55.
Just two weeks before her death, she received the UC Berkeley Distinguished Service Award to honor her many years of exemplary service to the campus.
Katagiri was born in Honolulu in 1948. When she was a child, her family moved to Seattle, where she lived until relocating to the Bay Area to attend college. She graduated from Berkeley with a B.A. in English Literature in 1970. After graduation, she began working on campus as an administrative assistant to Economics Professor Daniel McFadden in the Center for Research in Management Science. Katagiri quickly showed her excellent organizational and technical skills, and was given greater responsibilities.
In 1973, McFadden invited Katagiri to organize the Institute of Transportation Studies’ (ITS) Urban Travel Demand Forecasting Project, a National Science Foundation-funded research unit that worked to predict future usage of the BART system. “Grace supervised every detail, from recruiting research assistants to filing the final reports,” says McFadden. “She was a manager whose vocabulary did not include the word ‘impossible.’” The project led in 2000 to a Nobel Prize in economics for McFadden. In appreciation for the contributions Katagiri made to the project, McFadden invited her to accompany him and his wife to Stockholm when he accepted the prize.
In 1977, Katagari left her position at ITS and assumed a managerial role at the Institute of Urban and Regional Development, another campus research unit. In 1981 she left Berkeley for a position with McFadden in Cambridge Systematics, a private-sector organization. She returned to campus in 1991 to help McFadden start up the Econometrics Laboratory, a computing and statistical resource for the Economics Department's students and faculty.
During the past year, Katagiri and Professor John Morgan took the XLab from idea to reality. Says Robert Barde, deputy director of the Institute of Business and Economic Research, she brought to her work “both knowledge of technical detail and wireless policy and an intellectual engagement with the actual issues and personalities of XLab's end users.”
“Her work transformed the way that economics is done at Berkeley,” says Richard Gilbert, chair and professor of economics. “Grace kept the department at the frontier of information technology. She will always be remembered for her extraordinary skills and for her dedication to students, faculty, and staff.”
“Grace devoted her life to the university,” says McFadden, “and to the promotion and facilitation of research. She epitomized the dedicated staff member who is a lifelong learner who grows to meet the needs of our science and our faculty. She was an example and an inspiration to us all.”
Katagiri is survived by her husband, Bradley Itokazu of Berkeley; parents, Rev. and Mrs. Mineo Katagiri of San Francisco; and her sisters, Iao Katagiri of Santa Monica and Laurie Katagiri of Hawaii.
Services were held on Saturday, July 31, at Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Ave., Oakland. A campus gathering is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 8, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Women’s Faculty Club.
The campus is establishing an economics prize in her name. Contributions can be made to the Grace Katagiri Fund, Department of Economics, University of California, 549 Evans Hall #3880, Berkeley, CA 94720-3880.