Faces of Research: Meet Paige Clayton

Clayton graphic

The School of City & Regional Planning in the College of Design at Georgia Tech is an internationally recognized leader in education and research. Its students, faculty, and researchers work together to create new knowledge and tools for making cities more sustainable, resilient, and just. Students come to our school from around the world and arrive with ambitions to solve the world’s most vexing problems.

This installment of the Faces of Research Q&A series is with Paige Clayton, assistant professor of city and regional planning in the School of City & Regional Planning.

What is your field of expertise and why did you choose it?
My training is in public policy and my research is at the intersection of entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic development. Key themes in my work are entrepreneurial support organizations, the emergence of entrepreneurial regions, the geographic diffusion of new knowledge, and the impact of federal and state policies on entrepreneurship. In hindsight, I chose my field when I took an economic development course during my undergraduate studies at Georgia Tech. I was intrigued to learn how the science coming out of universities impacts local economies and I wanted to know more. I started working as a research assistant studying university technology commercialization and startup incubators. I continued to cultivate these interests and developed research questions that I would pursue during graduate school in North Carolina. I came back to Georgia Tech as an assistant professor in 2020, joining the School of City & Regional Planning teaching in the economic development specialization.

What makes Georgia Tech research institutes unique?
Georgia Tech is an important economic development asset for Atlanta and the state of Georgia. Its strengths in technology provide a unique setting for the kinds of questions in which I’m interested. This, combined with the strong reputation of the Institute and the potential to impact the region positively with my work made me want to come back to Georgia Tech for my career. 

What impact is your research having on the world?
Since coming out of the pandemic, I’ve had the opportunity to share my work with state level economic development officials and other stakeholders in the statewide innovation ecosystem. This kind of dialogue with practitioners is critical for conducting robust research that can have the potential for real impact. It has been a rewarding experience, especially when I can involve my students and hopefully pique their interest in technology and innovation from a social science perspective. I also really enjoy meeting and talking to economic developers, entrepreneurs, and people working to develop local innovative clusters. 

What do you like to do in your spare time when you are not working on your research or teaching?
I love riding my bike, I’m a regular at Piedmont Park, and I just got into standup paddleboarding — there’s so much to do outside around Atlanta! I am also unabashedly a fan of winding down with some good TV and like going to see live shows, podcasts, and comedy.

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Péralte C. Paul