Nobel in economics goes to American expert on sustainable agriculture

On Monday, Elinor Ostrom became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in economics, along with fellow American Oliver Williamson. In addition to being a surprise winner, Ostrom's research had a surprising inspiration: her mother's tomatoes and carrots. "My mother had a victory garden during the war," Ostrom notes in her National Institutes of Health profile, "so I learned all about growing vegetables and preserving them by canning."

Describing how others in her hometown of Los Angeles -- as well as other communities in the U.S. and Britain -- worked together during World War II to grow food, Ostrom used her research to demonstrate how government bodies, neighborhoods, even schools of fish can act together for the common good when they face a shortage of resources.