Ely conducts research on microeconomic theory, with a focus on mechanism design and the foundations of game theory. He has edited and been published in various journals, including Games and Economic Behavior, Journal of Economic Theory and Econometrica.
He has been the recipient of many awards, including an Israel-United States Bi-National Science Foundation Award and an Alfred P. Sloan Dissertation Fellowship.
Ely is on the editorial board of Theoretical Economics, an online, open-access journal on economic theory. He also is the director of the Northwestern Center for Economic Theory. With economics professor Sandeep Baliga, Ely writes “Cheap Talk,” an economics and politics blog.
From 1996 to 2003, Ely was an assistant professor at Northwestern. He then joined the faculty at Boston University as an associate professor. Ely rejoined the Northwestern faculty in 2004 as a professor of economics.