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Los Angeles native Elinor Ostrom, first and only female economics Nobel Prize winner, dies at 78

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Elinor Ostrom, an Indiana University professor of political science and the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in economics, died Tuesday at age 78.

Ostrom died of cancer Tuesday morning at IU Health Bloomington Hospital, university spokesman Steve Hinnefeld said. He said the school was informed of Ostrom’s death by her longtime friend and colleague, Michael McGinnis, a professor of political science at IU.

Ostrom shared the 2009 Nobel Prize for economics with Oliver Williamson from the University of California, Berkeley. They were honored for analyzing the rules by which people exercise authority in companies and economic systems.

In this video, captured at Indiana University, Ostrom delivers her prize-winning research:

The university said Ostrom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late 2011. Nonetheless, following her diagnosis she traveled to India and Mexico, and taught a graduate seminar, the university said.

Ostrom was born and grew up in Los Angeles, and she studied at UCLA. She graduated in three years, and then worked in the private sector before entering graduate school and receiving master’s and doctoral degrees in political science from UCLA.

She moved to Indiana when her husband was hired for the political science faculty. She was first hired by the university, she said, because the political science department needed someone to teach a 7:30 a.m. class.

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