The highly competitive fellowship program provides young researchers who have completed their bachelor’s or master’s degrees the opportunity to gain hands-on research experience and new skills in a full-time work environment under the guidance of EPIC-affiliated faculty and researchers.
EPIC’s outstanding pre-doctoral fellows have gone on to some of the country’s top PhD programs, securing places in Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School; Urban Planning at the University of California at Berkeley; and more. Five pre-doctoral fellows have won prestigious and highly-competitive National Science Foundation grants.
“I have grown so much as both a thinker and researcher since I started working for Ryan. I am now more confident than ever that I will be pursuing a PhD in Economics. Ryan has always been approachable and has taken the time to ensure I understand how to perform sound economics research. The community surrounding EPIC is so friendly and supportive that even a young researcher like me feels as if I have a voice and important ideas to contribute to the energy policy world.”
-Nadia Lucas, Class of ’19
Jesse Jian Adelman
B.S. Economics, University of Pittsburgh
Faculty Supervisor: Eyal Frank
Jesse Jian Adelman is a pre-doctoral fellow at EPIC. He assists the research efforts of Harris School of Public Policy Assistant Professor Eyal Frank, focusing on the efficacy of U.S. conservation policies designed to rebuild populations depleted by overfishing and maintain those that have recovered. Prior to joining EPIC, Adelman received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh, where he majored in Economics with a minor in Chinese. During his time at Pitt, Adelman became interested in land and resource economics after his experiences researching the Kingdom of Portugal’s colonization efforts in Brazil, as well as his assistance in researching the adverse effects of slash-and-burn agriculture throughout India.
“When deciding on a pre-doctoral program, I often faced a tradeoff between which institution will provide the most opportunity and which institution’s research aligns most with my passions. At EPIC, I get the best of both worlds. With coursework, seminars, and workshops offered by UChicago, BFI, and EPIC, I have plenty of opportunities to be excited about during my fellowship. In addition, the welcoming and passionate nature of my professors, fellow pre-docs, and the entire EPIC team made me feel right at home. Best of all, I have the opportunity to contribute to environmental economics research during a time when the world is finally beginning to realize that a renewable resource is not an expendable one.”
B.S. in Economics and Mathematics, Grinnell College
Faculty Supervisor: Ryan Kellogg and Thomas Covert
Pranjal Drall is a pre-doctoral fellow at EPIC. He is working with Professors Ryan Kellogg (Professor and Deputy Dean at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy) and Thomas Covert (Assistant Professor of Economics at the Booth School of Business) on projects focusing on the relationship between misallocation of resources, firm learning, and lease terms on productivity in the U.S. fracking industry. Prior to starting at EPIC, Pranjal was a Tobin pre-doctoral fellow at Yale Law School where he worked with Deputy Dean and Professor Ian Ayres on a variety of applied micro projects at the intersection of law and economics on topics such as corporate finance, behavioral economics, and gun policy. He earned a bachelor’s in economics and math from Grinnell College in 2020 where he also played tennis. Pranjal’s primary research interests lie at the intersection of industrial organization and environmental economics. He is also interested in law and economics.
“I chose EPIC, and specifically Ryan and Thom, because of their focus on using structural methods to answer questions related to energy policy. By working with them, I will improve my structural estimation skills and learn how industrial organization researchers apply economic theory to data. While at EPIC, I also look forward to engaging with fellow pre-docs and the broader UChicago economics community. I strongly believe EPIC is the perfect place for me to develop my research agenda, improve as a researcher, and prepare for a PhD in economics.”
B.A. Economics, New Economic School and Higher School of Economics
Faculty Supervisor: Amir Jina
Alina Gafanova is a pre-doctoral fellow at EPIC working with Harris Public Policy Assistant Professor Amir Jina. She earned a bachelor’s in Economics at New Economic School (Moscow, Russia), where she worked as a research assistant on oil industry topics. Her current interests encompass the intersection of economics and environment, specifically health issues related to poor environmental conditions and climate change. Gafanova’s bachelor thesis focused on how vulnerable Russia may be to the rise of vector-borne infections due to the variations in climate. Prior to her economic research, she worked and interned in various industries: management consulting, pharmaceuticals, and urban development projects. This well-rounded experience gives her a deeper understanding of the real-world problems and will assist her in conducting applied research in the future.
“Due to pandemic, I am joining EPIC from my home in Russia, but the team does everything possible to expose me to all the amazing opportunities: from attending UChicago seminars to learning new coding skills during orientation sessions. My main motivation behind becoming an EPIC predoctoral fellow was to be surrounded by people who study issues which I personally find the most pressing. That’s why I am so delighted to work with my PI, Amir Jina, who now helps me to see the frontier of interdisciplinary research between economics and climate science.”
BA in Economics, University College Roosevelt; MA in Economics, New York University
Faculty Supervisor: Eyal Frank
Sara Gerstner is a pre-doctoral fellow at EPIC. Originally from Amsterdam, Sara received her BA in Economics at University College Roosevelt, a small liberal arts college in the Netherlands, followed by an MA in Economics at New York University. During grad school, Sara worked as a remote part-time research assistant for Dr. Milena Almagro at UChicago Booth. Now at EPIC, she will be working with Dr. Eyal Frank, assistant professor at Harris, on assessing the economic costs associated with a loss of biodiversity.
“I came to EPIC because it would allow me to combine my work with my passion: economics and the environment. In the future, I am particularly interested in studying the economic, health, and environmental consequences of animal agriculture. I believe working at EPIC will equip me with the right tools and interdisciplinary knowledge to be able to make a difference in shifting consumption away from animal products and towards more plant-based alternatives.”
B.S. Mathematics and Economics, Brigham Young University
Faculty Supervisor: Michael Greenstone
Bogdan Mukhametkaliev is a pre-doctoral fellow at EPIC working for Director Michael Greenstone on energy and environmental economics projects. Born and raised in Izhevsk, Russia, Mukhametkaliev moved to the United States at the age of 18 to attend Brigham Young University (BYU). Majoring in Mathematics and Economics, he graduated with a double degree in April 2021. While at BYU, he was involved in research in areas of high-frequency finance, asset pricing, and public finance and in his econometric coursework, evaluated the effects of domestic violence decriminalization on its criminal prosecution. Mukhametkaliev plans to pursue a doctoral degree in economics or finance in the future.
“When looking for an opportunity to explore my research interests and hone my research skills, I found EPIC to be a perfect place where rigorous research aims to answer pressing policy questions. After meeting with Dr. Michael Greenstone and his team, I had no doubt that EPIC is an open and friendly community that really wants you to grow as a researcher.”
B.Sc. (Research) Economics, Shiv Nadar University; Masters of Arts in International and Development Economics, Yale University
Faculty Supervisor: Climate Impact Lab, Michael Greenstone
Nishka Sharma is a pre-doctoral fellow at EPIC, where she works with the Climate Impact Lab, a multi-institution, multidisciplinary research group co-led by EPIC Director Michael Greenstone that works to quantify the impact of climate change. She earned her master’s in International and Development Economics from Yale University and a bachelor’s in economics from Shiv Nadar University in India. In the past, Nishka worked as a researcher at the Indian School of Business in India on projects that empirically evaluated the impact of digital identity in social welfare programs. Her current research interests lie broadly in the intersection of environmental and development economics including social impacts of climate change, and how adaptation to climate change can be made more accessible.
“I wish to work towards quantifying the impact of challenges due to climate change in harmony with economic development. I am excited to work with my peers and the experts at the Climate Impact Lab to pursue that goal and contribute to developing scientific strategies to mitigate them. I also look forward to making the most of the learning opportunities that CIL, EPIC, and UChicago have to offer.”
B.S. in Economics and Mathematics, University of Chicago
Faculty Supervisor: Michael Greenstone
Kaixin Wang is a pre-doctoral fellow at EPIC, working for Director Michael Greenstone on environmental economics projects. He graduated from the University of Chicago in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Mathematics . With research interests in microeconometrics and its application in environmental and energy policy, Wang wrote an honors thesis that studied the effect of wildfires on house prices in California.
“In a microeconometrics class I took in my third year of college, I learned how Professor Greenstone and other researchers used a regression discontinuity design to identify the effect of air pollution on life expectancy. I was so impressed by this innovative design that exploits the quasi-experimental variation in PM10 level generated by China’s Huai River policy and I hoped I could get involved in similar projects one day. At EPIC, I have the opportunity to apply econometrics methods I learned to further our understanding of the impact of pollution, climate change, and other pressing environmental issues. I look forward to learning more about the research process in economics and contributing to research at EPIC.”
B.S. in Mathematics and Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences, Northwestern University
Faculty Supervisor: Koichiro Ito
Yixin Zhou is a pre-doctoral fellow at EPIC. She is working with Koichiro Ito, an associate professor at the Harris School of Public Policy, primarily studying the Chilean electricity market. She earned bachelor’s degrees in Mathematics and Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences from Northwestern University. She is interested in energy economics, particularly on how consumers respond to various environmental policies. In her senior thesis, she studied the impact of electric vehicle charging infrastructure on consumers demand of hybrid EVs and fully-electric EVs. While at Northwestern, Zhou also assisted in researching the industry origin of productivity growth slowdown in the United States.
“I chose EPIC because I found energy economics very exciting. I am also fascinated by the fact that rigorous econometric methods can concretely estimate the impact of policies and make important contributions to policy debates. My Project Investigator, Professor Ito, has impressive work on the electricity market, and he greatly values the development of his pre-docs. I really appreciate the opportunity at EPIC to learn about environmental policies, to get exposure to the actual empirical research process, and to grow as a researcher.”
Claire Qing Fan
Placement: PhD Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California, Davis
Laura Alcocer was a Pre-Doctoral Fellow with the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC). She worked primarily with the Climate Impact Lab, a multi-organization, multidisciplinary research group co-led by EPIC Director Michael Greenstone that works to calculate the social impacts of climate change. Laura previously worked as a consultant at Energea, a consulting firm that specializes in energy project development in Mexico, assisting in the restructuring of a government agency in charge of regulating industrial safety and environmental protection in the Mexican hydrocarbons sector. She earned her bachelor’s in economics from Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México and a master’s in economics from The University of Texas at Austin. Laura is broadly interested in environmental and energy policy and industrial organization.
“It’s been a really enriching experience to work with people that are so knowledgeable in the subject, and I honestly could not have imagined the technological tools we use for our models. That’s amazing to me. I’ve also been developing a new way of thinking about things, a mindset for approaching the research process.”
Sushant is a Pre-Doctoral Fellow at EPIC where he works primarily with Eyal Frank—assistant professor at Harris School of Public Policy—and his collaborators, on research topics such as impacts of weather on agricultural production; influence of conservation laws on real-estate economics; and public health outcomes associated with changes in wildlife population. Sushant holds a bachelor’s in civil engineering from Institute of Engineering, Pulchowk Campus and a master’s in environmental science from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where he specialised in urbanisation science and remote sensing. Sushant research interests are in the economics of urbanisation in the developing world and socio-political implications of transboundary natural resource management.
“For me, working at EPIC is as much a learning opportunity as it is a job. My PI, Eyal Frank, and the work I do with him are the sources of valuable insights in economics research for me. Although I come from a strictly engineering background, my PI has focused on me learning economics and has been extremely helpful in the process. Additionally, the weekly seminars and EPIC learning groups have been a great way to keep abreast of cutting-edge research at the intersection of environmental science and economics. Overall, I enjoy working in the convivial environment at EPIC. And while I, as a part of my job, contribute to research in environmental economics, I also hope to prepare myself well for the graduate study in the same.”
Placement: PhD Public Policy, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
Tom Bearpark was a Pre-Doctoral Fellow with the Climate Impact Lab (CIL), a multidisciplinary team of researchers from EPIC, the University of California, Berkeley, Rutgers University and Rhodium Group. His work primarily focused on quantifying the effects of climate change on conflict and migration patterns. Before joining EPIC, Tom earned a master’s degree in Economic Research at the University of Cambridge and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and economics from the London School of Economics. He also spent two years working as an economist in the United Kingdom’s energy regulator, the Office for Gas and Electricity Markets; during that time he also spent three months in Brussels working for the European Union’s energy regulators. Tom’s research interests are in policy analysis and the role of climate change in economic development.
Coming from Singapore, a country that has historically relied on Malaysia for much of its water supply, Trinetta Chong understands the problems that accompany limited natural resources.
“Trying to achieve self-sustainability in our water supply means turning to alternative sources such as desalination and wastewater reclamation,” Trinetta explained. “While these technologies help to supplement our water supply, they consume very high amounts of energy.”
This presents a challenge for Singapore and countries like it around the world that are trying to both meet its water demands and limit energy consumption. The dilemma motivated Trinetta’s interests in environmental policy topics, such as the energy-water nexus, green initiatives and sustainable development.
After studying communications at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and obtaining a Masters of Public Policy from the Goldman School at the University of California Berkeley, Trinetta worked with the International Food Policy Research Institute. There, she examined the impact of weather shocks on nutrition in Bangladesh.
This experience added to Trinetta’s knowledge on climate change and prepared her well for her Pre-Doctoral Fellowship at EPIC, where she is working primarily on the Social Cost of Carbon project with Michael Greenstone.
“My past experience relates well to the Social Cost of Carbon project, which demonstrates the economic and social impacts of weather variation on various sectors, and adds to a growing body of research that highlights the consequences of climate change,” she said.
While at EPIC, Trinetta looks forward to gaining experience with experts and further developing her skills in data manipulation and analysis within the field of energy and environment.
Placement: PhD Economics, Princeton | NSF Awardee
Growing up, Greg Dobbels recalls being immersed in the hard sciences. But his academic focus shifted slightly in college. While studying Government, he realized empiricism was important to him.
“I settled on economics as a field and theoretical framework to guide future pursuits,” he said.
As a Pre-Doctoral Fellow with EPIC, Greg worked on the Social Cost of Carbon project with Michael Greenstone, which aimed to contribute guidance to drive and inform energy and environmental policy. He is interested in answering questions that focus on what a changing climate actually means for the human existence, and specifically its effect on agricultural systems across the world.
“We are reasonably certain how the climate is changing, but are still building our understanding of how these changes will impact our everyday existence. Figuring that out has huge implications for how we try to adapt to a changing climate,” he said.
Over the years, Greg’s interests developed into a focus on the relationship of climate change and agriculture. Because food is a vital component of the human existence, it is important to understand how agriculture will be affected by a changing climate.
Climate and agriculture also has a big impact on developing countries like Uganda, where he has spent some time. After graduating from Cornell University, where he studied Government and Economics, he spent three years working for Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), a non-profit that evaluates the effectiveness of organizations that aim to provide solutions to global problems. This work brought him to Uganda, where he worked on projects evaluating programs that aimed to improve local governance and increase access to affordable healthcare for the rural poor.
While at EPIC, Greg looked forward to enriching his knowledge of climate change and policy work and aims to contribute to the meaningful research.
“Along the way, I hope to build my own understanding of the economic impacts of climate change, know where the gaps in our knowledge are, and learn the empirical tools needed to fill in those gaps,” he said. “A process I hope to continue to build on in graduate school.”
Placement: PhD Public Policy, Chicago Harris | NSF Awardee
Qing (Claire) Fan was a Pre-Doctoral Fellow with the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), where she worked for Director Michael Greenstone on a variety of energy and environmental economics projects. She earned her bachelor’s in mathematics with a minor in economics in 2018 from Pomona College in California. While at Pomona, Claire conducted a field study on attitudes toward sustainable agriculture in farming communities in Punjab, India, and worked on research in applied mathematics and on the economics of social enterprise. Claire is interested in the intersection of environmental and development economics, including the social impacts of climate change, and food and agriculture.
Placement: PhD Economics, Chicago | NSF Honorable mention
Michael Galperin earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics from UChicago. He worked for Michael Greenstone at EPIC for two years, and received an honorable mention for the NSF fellowship. While at EPIC, he contributed to research that analyzed the relationship between extremely hot days and the mortality rate in India. Additionally, he helped to create a new cost-benefit analysis model that could be used on environmental regulations by using the novel approach of adapting seemingly unrelated data on military reenlistment. Prior to coming to EPIC, Galperin interned at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and was a research assistant for Marianne Bertrand, the Chris P. Dialynas Professor of Economics at the UChicago Booth School of Business. He is most interested in questions of development and political economy as they relate to energy access, and his time at EPIC reinforced the idea that economic analysis and tools can be used to improve living condition for the world’s poor.
“In addition to being a part of a wonderful research community, my time at EPIC prepared me for rigorous research that requires independent thinking and initiative,” Galperin says. “I’m excited to apply the skills and tools I gained to dive deeper into ways to improve energy access throughout the world.”
Placement: MA City Planning, Berkeley
Before becoming a Pre-Doctoral Fellow with EPIC, Brian attended Georgetown University for his undergraduate degree. At Georgetown, Brian entered the School of Foreign Service, where he completed his major in International Economics. He has strong interests in transit-oriented development in cities and energy as it relates to transportation.
“While electric cars are one alternative possibility to combustion engines, I believe structural changes in cities, such as relaxing zoning regulations, are just as important. Dense cities are environmentally-friendly cities.”
At EPIC, Brian worked on three main projects. In one, he gathered data for a working paper that uses underground geological characteristics to determine the local economic impacts of fracking. The other two projects focused on energy efficiency programs.
While he’s attracted to “the sheer gravitas of energy problems,” Brian has always had a broad interest in public policy. To him, policy and energy problems intertwine.
“Something that I had not fully appreciated before coming here was that although technological innovation will play an enormous role in climate change mitigation, the right energy policies can have massive cost implications in the meantime.”
There are two major qualities about EPIC that drew Brian in: a world-class group of researchers on energy and the environment and its uniqueness where researchers strive to write informative papers for policy-makers.
“Although a lot of institutions do this, I believe EPIC is a leader in this pack.”
He hoped to learn a lot about the research process and to explore his own research interests in greater depth. Particularly, he says: “I would like to continue exploring the development of walkable cities and its potential impact on climate change.”
While a Pre-Doctoral fellow at EPIC, Radhika worked on the Social Cost of Carbon project which is aimed at providing a global assessment of climate change impacts.
Prior to joining the University of Chicago, Radhika was a research analyst at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC where she conducted research on fiscal policy, agriculture, and political economy for Sub-Saharan Africa. Previously, she worked for the International Growth Centre (directed by London School of Economics and University of Oxford) in the Rwanda and Oxford offices where her research focused on a range of themes including public finance, education, poverty, urbanization and agriculture. She has also consulted for the World Bank and Oxford Policy Management and engaged in fieldwork across Africa and southeast Asia.
Radhika holds an MSc in Economics for Development and a BA in Economics and Management from the University of Oxford and was a Ministry of Education (Singapore) Agency for Science, Technology and Research scholar.
Placement: PhD Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California, Berkeley
Simon Greenhill was a Pre-Doctoral Fellow at the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, where he was a member of the Climate Impact Lab (CIL), a multi-institution collaboration seeking to measure the social cost of carbon. At CIL, Simon primarily studied how climate change will affect human migration. He earned his bachelor’s degrees in economics and Arabic from the University of California, Berkeley. While at Berkeley, Simon contributed to research on the labor market effects of the Syrian refugee crisis in neighboring countries and spent a semester studying in Amman, Jordan. He is broadly interested in economic questions at the intersection of energy, climate change and development.
Placement: PhD Economics, Chicago
Faraz was a Pre-Doctoral fellow with EPIC, interested in energy and fossil fuel consumption in developing countries. He worked on several different projects, including one study that focused on the economic impacts of hydraulic fracturing in U.S. counties, and another on China’s Huai River policy.
Before coming to EPIC, Faraz received his undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, where he studied Math and Economics. At the time, his research was focused more on economic theory and development economics, but growing up in Pakistan he was always very well aware of pollution and energy crises. It was his childhood there that later served as a motivation for studying energy topics and finding “a solution to the energy problems of developing countries.”
Given his interest in energy economics, Faraz decided to join EPIC in order to work closely with Michael Greenstone and other researchers with similar interests. While here, he hoped to learn more technical skills, such as writing code for a research project. “Getting firsthand experience on how research is conducted is also a big plus and will help me when I attend graduate school.”
Iván Higuera is a pre-doctoral fellow at the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC). He works under the supervision of Steve Cicala, assistant professor at the UChicago Harris School of Public Policy, exploring the behavior of energy markets and the impacts of energy regulation on population welfare and health. Before joining EPIC, Iván was a research fellow at the Center for Data Science and Public Policy (DSaPP) at the Department of Computer Science at UChicago, where he contributed to the deployment of machine learning models applied to health and criminal justice. Iván was also an economist at the Central Bank of Colombia’s Research Unit, where he researched deforestation and protected areas policy. He holds a bachelor’s in economics and political science from Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia.
Placement: PhD Public Policy, Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs
Dylan Hogan was a Pre-Doctoral Fellow with the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), where he worked primarily with the Climate Impact Lab, a multi-organization, multidisciplinary research group co-led by EPIC Director Michael Greenstone that works to calculate the social impacts of climate change. Prior to joining EPIC, Dylan worked for several years as an economic consultant at NERA Economic Consulting, advising clients in the energy sector on environmental and economic issues. As an undergraduate research assistant at Brown University, he contributed to research in education and development economics. His current research interests lie broadly in environmental policy and international development. Dylan has a bachelor’s in applied mathematics and economics from Brown.