In a written statement, the [American Economic] association praised Mr. Acemoglu, 37, as a "broad and productive economist" who has made "valuable contributions" in the fields of labor economics, macroeconomics, institutional economics, and political economy. "Especially innovative," the statement says, is his recent work on the role of institutions in development and in political economy.
Mr. Acemoglu was one of the authors of a paper, "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," that appeared in the Quarterly Journal of Economics in 2002. The authors argue that among countries colonized by European powers, those that were relatively rich in 1500 are now relatively poor because of colonial policies — an argument against the notion that geography is destiny.
In a working paper published in March by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Mr. Acemoglu and other authors argue that there is no evidence that countries that increase their levels of education are likely to become more democratic.
That is from the Chronicle of Higher Education, through the Division of Labor blog.
This is a very good choice. Acemoglu is an economist who starts with, and sticks with, the critical questions about development and institutions. He does not let himself get distracted by a model he knows he can solve or a technique he knows he can use. Here is his home page, with links to research. Here is an earlier MR post on his work. Here is David Warsh on Acemoglu.