This summer, the OU College of Law was privileged to host Inne Nys, a research fellow from the University of Leuven in Belgium. During her time here, Inne worked closely with Professor Jonathan Forman to develop her research and expand her general knowledge of the U.S. pension system. What follows are Inne’s reflections on her time in Oklahoma, specifically at OU Law, and her future plans for her scholarship.
Q: What is the nature of your research project?
A: I am researching the flexibility provided by the occupational pension systems in Belgium and the U.S. More specifically, I am looking at how employees can have early access to their occupational pension plans. In Belgium, the options are very limited, so it seemed very interesting to make the comparison with the U.S. because the U.S. private pension system gives a few different options.
Q: How did you come to learn about an opportunity to research at OU Law?
A: My major professor (Prof. Yves Stevens) at the University of Leuven offered me the amazing opportunity to do some research abroad. And he knew exactly the right person to help me with this. That is how I got in touch with Professor Forman, who agreed to help me and offered to let me do the needed research at OU Law.
What is the end goal of your research project?
A: In general, the end goal is to get my paper published and to present the findings at an European conference in Leuven in October. Personally, my goal was to get a better understanding of the private pension system of the U.S.
Q: How did Prof. Forman assisted your research efforts?
A: Professor Forman was always prepared to answer all my questions and explain the things that weren't quite clear. The private pension system in the U.S. can be complicated and without him it would have taken me a very long time to fully understand it. He sent me the articles and sources that he thought would be useful and gave me advice on what to look further into. He has helped me to get the article into its current form.
Q: What was the most interesting thing about studying and researching in the United States for a few weeks?
A: From the outside, the U.S. and Europe looked similar to me, but during my stay, I discovered that there were some cultural differences. Some of the professors I met told me a little bit about Native American law; before my trip I didn't even know that was a separate area of law. I discovered how very friendly and welcoming Oklahomans are, definitely very different than what I am used to. I went to New York after my stay in Oklahoma and realized that wasn't true over there.
I just love to learn new things, whether they are of an academical nature or not. I got to go home not only with a broader knowledge on the subject of occupational pension plans, but on the U.S. in general as well.
It was an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.
Q: After this research project, what do you hope to turn your attention to academically?
A: I just graduated from law school at the University of Leuven and next year I am getting another masters degree in Social Law at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. I do hope to do some similar projects. But, I am not sure what I am going to do after my next degree. Maybe I will decide to become a lawyer, maybe I will end up doing something completely different. Luckily for me, I have another year to decide on that.
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