“Elinor Ostrom, Winner of Nobel in Economics, Dies at 78.” By Catherine Rampell. New York Times. June 12, 2012. Elinor Ostrom, the only woman to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science — an achievement all the more remarkable because she was not actually an economist — died on Tuesday in Bloomington, Ind. She was 78. The cause was cancer, according to Indiana University, where she taught for many years. Professor Ostrom’s work rebutted fundamental economic beliefs. But to say she was a dark horse for the 2009 economics Nobel is an understatement. Not because she was a woman — although women in the field are still rare — but because she was trained in political science. Professor Ostrom’s prizewinning work examined how people collaborate and organize themselves to manage common resources like forests or fisheries, even when governments are not involved. The research overturned the conventional wisdom about the need for government regulation of public resources. In 1973, Professor Ostrom and her husband, Vincent, who survives her, founded the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University. It would become the first of several interdisciplinary institutions she helped shape, and a locus for her collaboration with scholars across academia, including ecologists, computer scientists and psychologists. Just as her academic habits emphasized collaboration and cooperation, so did the content of her study. Traditionally, economics taught that common ownership of resources results in excessive exploitation, as when fishermen overfish a common pond. This is the so-called tragedy of the commons, and it suggests that common resources must be managed either through privatization or government regulation, in the form of taxes, say, or limits on use. Professor Ostrom studied cases around the world in which communities successfully regulated resource use through cooperation. Her work has important applications for climate change policy today. Professor Ostrom’s research and Mr. Williamson’s related work on corporate oversight are part of a field known as institutional economics. Some economists still debate whether the field deserves a rightful place within the economics discipline. Elinor Awan was born on Aug. 7, 1933, in Los Angeles, an only child. She often spoke about how growing up in the Depression had influenced her interest in cooperative institutions. She recalled helping her family grow food in a large garden and knitting scarves for soldiers. She received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees — all in political science — at the University of California, Los Angeles.