Thanks to the generosity of Harris Alumnus John Bartlett, EPIC offers paid fellowships to students at the Harris School of Public Policy to gain hands-on experience in environmental and energy economics and policy research. Students are paired with EPIC affiliated faculty to gain a better understanding of the research process on a part-time basis during the academic year or a full-time basis during the summer. Additionally, Harris Public Policy students can apply for one of two $5,000 stipends to support themselves during an unpaid or underpaid summer internship of their choosing.
Bartlett research fellows assist EPIC-affiliated faculty with research and data collection or conduct their own research projects under faculty guidance in the area of environmental and energy economics and policy. Research will culminate in a final report. EPIC strives to align fellows with their preferred area of research but cannot guarantee work with any particular faculty member. While research will be the main focus of the fellowship, students may also gain experience with grant and proposal writing, communications, and program coordination on an as-needed basis within the Institute. Fellows are invited to take active part in seminars and weekly workshops and to attend EPIC-sponsored conferences and events for which they may be asked to draft summary reports.
Fellowships may take place on a part-time basis during the academic year or a part- or full-time basis during the summer.
Summer Internship Stipend
As part of the Bartlett Fellowship Program, EPIC awards two $5,000 stipends to students pursuing an unpaid or underpaid internship during the summer. These fellowships can help to defray living expenses during such internships, offering students the financial freedom to pursue their professional goals.
All students who are awarded a stipend through the Bartlett Fellowship Program are required to submit a brief reflection on their internship experience. Reflections may be shared, in part or in full, with alumni, fellow students, and the Harris community. They may also be used, in part or in full, in Harris and/or university publications or website.
“It was a dream come true when I got this internship. This experience has been absolutely amazing because I have learned so much…about how things work in a society, and how you’re supposed to go out and implement a project, from the brainstorming stage to figuring out how you’re going to reach the solution you want.”
Sanya Jha, 2018 Bartlett Fellow, U.N. Environment Programme
How to Apply
Bartlett Fellowships are open to all currently-enrolled Harris School of Public Policy students, regardless of degree program, with an interest in conducting meaningful policy research on topics related to energy and the environment.
To qualify for the internship stipend, candidates must have an internship secured and verified at the time of the application, and the internship must provide students the opportunity to conduct meaningful work in topics related to energy and environment. Only summer internship positions are eligible and positions must be a minimum of 10 weeks in duration.
Interested students should contact Bethel Haile, firstname.lastname@example.org, about applying.
Will Seonmin Heo
Jerry Jiarui Qian
Will Seonmin Heo, who is pursuing a Master of Public Policy, worked with Harris associate professor Koichiro Ito on attribute-based regulations in the automotive industries by collecting data on the global car market and examining automobile tax structure as a DRW Fellow during the summer of 2019.
Now as a Bartlett Fellow, Will is continuing to work with Ito on the global car market and automobile tax structure in India.
“I hope to learn what research entails from one of the top researchers in the field and conduct independent research using microeconomics models in the near future.”
Prior to joining Harris, Will Seonmin Heo served three years as a military intelligence officer in the Air Force. Afterwards, Heo plans to pursue a PhD to tackle policy challenges through research.
Jiarui Qian (Jerry) is a second year master student at Harris School of Public Policy. Before coming to the U.S., he studied Agricultural Economics in China. Now he is working with Dr. Shaoda Wang as a Bartlett Fellow on a project evaluating the impact of legal independence reform on local economic propensity in China. His main responsibilities include literature review, cleaning and analyzing large datasets of Chinese firms and civil judgments.
“During my college years, I have been involved in more than 10 field studies in seven provinces in China, speaking to over 150 interviewees including farmers, village officials, and entrepreneurs in agricultural industries, etc. From that time, I was fascinated by the beauty of development and I wish I could dig deeper in this area and strengthen my research skills at EPIC.”
Jiarui also holds a MicroMasters Certificate in Data, Economics, and Development Policy, which is co-organized by MIT Department of Economics and J-PAL. He plans to pursue a PhD degree and research Development Economics & Political Economy in the future.
Pete Rodrigue, an MSCAPP student, spent the summer of 2019 as a DRW Fellow with Harris assistant professor Eyal Frank. He focused on invasive pests that kill trees and investigated what indirect effect they may have had on air quality. The fellowship helped Rodrigue transition from pure social science research to work at the intersection of social and environmental phenomena.
Now as a Bartlett Fellow, Pete is continuing to work with professor Frank.
“I look forward to continuing the work I started over the summer and shepherding our most promising projects to publication.”
Trevor Dean Arnold
Pedro Liedo Orozco
Shujie Medy Xu
Trevor Dean Arnold, a Harris Public Policy master’s student, worked with the esteemed climate economist Dr. Jette Bredahl Jacobsen at the University of Copenhagen over the summer. Arnold worked with Dr. Jacobsen at the university’s Department for Food and Resource Economics (IFRO) on integrated assessment models that attempt to explain the damages of carbon dioxide using different scenarios and growth projections. He specifically worked on the forestry component.
Arnold said he benefitted from working across disciplines to improve models, a valuable skill in economics related to climate change.
“Dr. Jacobsen put me in a position to learn from the other scientists at IFRO and build on my coding and research skills,” Arnold said. “This experience taught me how to ask questions to different researchers and how to think about the current state of research in a new field. I’ll carry that with me throughout my career in academia, in which I hope to work with climate researchers from all backgrounds.”
Emily is a second year MPP at the Harris School of Public Policy and is pursing the Environmental and Energy Policy Certificate. This summer she interned as a Policy Intern at the Environmental Law and Policy Center helping gather air quality data for future advocacy and policy work. On campus she is the Vice President of Communications and Marketing for Harris Environmental and Energy Association (HEEA), a Writing TA, and a Research Assistant for Professor Wolske through EPIC’s DRW Fellowship. Prior to Harris, Emily worked as an Environmental Educator at a nonprofit in Milwaukee. During the year, Emily will be working with Professor Wolske to examine policies to encourage greater household investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies (e.g., fuel efficient cars, energy efficient appliances, home insulation, solar panels).
“I am excited to work on this research project because I think energy efficiency investments and renewable energy technologies provide a way to help households engage in low carbon activities. This research project uses behavioral economics to identify effective policy designs and hopes to develop future research frameworks. Working on this project will help me further my research design skills and evidence-based data collection knowledge.”
Ishan Banerjee is a master’s student at the Harris School of Public Policy. He is pursuing the advanced degree after spending the last two years as a research assistant at the India Development Foundation in Gurugram, India, where he assisted on a number of India-focused economic research papers. His work ‘Mapping patenting in India and China’ was presented at ‘India’s innovation landscape and intellectual property rights’, a conference organized by the foundation. Ishan worked with EPIC Postdoctoral Scholar Tamma Carleton on a project that uses satellite data of water availability at a global scale to investigate how trading patterns of water-intensive crops and agriculture policy affects freshwater depletion.
“I have always wanted to work on the economics of water and climate change, and the use of satellite data makes this research even more compelling,” Banerjee said. “This fellowship is an opportunity to build on my quantitative analytical skills and work towards better agriculture and water policy.”
Growing up in Mexico, Claudia Barrera witnessed firsthand the growing relevance of energy policy to everyday life.
“Energy moves everything and we, as human beings, face a challenge of having limited, scarce resources fueling our day-to-day activities,” said Barrera, a 2016-2017 Bartlett Fellow at EPIC.
Back in Mexico, Barrera was a trader and economic analyst for the Central Bank, where she worked on a team that designed Mexico’s oil sovereign wealth fund at a time of high volatility in the energy markets. As such, she focused her everyday activities on safeguarding “Mexico’s oil revenues for future generations.”
Her involvement with the Mexican oil fund did more than provide her with firsthand experience in energy policy. It also made Barrera feel like she was “part of the Mexican energy revolution that would foster healthier public finances and that, in the future, would make possible the funding of projects of infrastructure, technology, renewable energy and human capital investment,” Barrera explained.
At UChicago, pursued a degree specifically focused on energy and economic policy, while Barrera developing the energy-related skills she began to acquire at home in Mexico. Her main interests revolve around the impact of climate change, oil and gas markets, and renewable alternatives. As a Bartlett fellow for EPIC, she worked with Amir Jina on two assignments related to calculating a global social cost of carbon, part of the Climate Impact Lab.
Both of her assignments dealt with data analysis and reviewing the current literature, with one focused on investigating the relationship between climate change and sexual violence in South Africa and the other correcting biases in self-reported climate-related disaster data. Barrera noted that the South Africa work is particularly challenging “due to the data limitations that exist in areas of high violence.”
On her fellowship with EPIC, Barrera expressed excitement at being involved with an institute that “provides solutions by producing innovative research that is improving our world through delivering real access to affordable energy.” Her goal for the fellowship is to get involved with these innovative researchers and to learn about their techniques and viewpoints.
“Through this experience I am sure I will hone my data analysis and research skill set to translate it into policies that can help either Mexico specifically, or the world,” Barrera said. “Given my passion and interests, there is not a better place to do it.”
Kriti Bhardwaj, who is pursuing a MSESP at Harris Public Policy, worked closely with Tamma Carleton, an EPIC postdoctoral scholar, to conduct quantitative and qualitative research on the impact of climate change on health. Bhardwaj researched various health topics, with a focus on developing countries and conducted geospatial and temporal analysis of impacts of pollution levels and other climatic factors on health.
“This internship has helped me use my quantitative skills in a practical setting. I have learned how to find data-driven solutions to the complex problem of climate change, health and development. My key take-away was to understand the way experts in this field work and how they look at problems to find targeted solutions. Tamma Carleton has been the best mentor one could ask for. She gave me diverse projects, pushed me to hone my quantitative skills and was always there to guide me. I hope to emulate her work ethic in my future.”
Bhardwaj’s favorite part of the fellowship was the opportunity to work on diverse projects, handling both qualitative and quantitative data.
“I have learned so much about the climate change field and the skills I have gained in this internship will be a steppingstone for my future endeavors. Being a Bartlett fellow is a privilege and the opportunities I had to explore different avenues has helped me realize the area of environmental policy I want to focus on.”
Andrew Bray, a Harris Public Policy master’s student, spent his summer in the Bay Area working for Powerhouse—an Oakland-based seed fund that invests in entrepreneurs building software-enabled solutions for the clean energy industry. Bray said one of his goals as a student is to understand how to integrate clean energy onto the grid through private sector collaboration, which fed his attraction to venture capital.
Bray’s work at Powerhouse focused primarily on researching and bringing in new startups to the fund, giving him a front-row seat to the fast-paced world of venture funds and the technology that will transform the future of energy.
“It’s a smarter grid that makes better use of technology to reduce demand instead of firing up another fossil fuel plant,” said Bray, president of the Harris Energy & Environmental Association. “It’s highly efficient using the best optimization models. It’s properly incentivized with resources getting paid for the value they provide. It’s distributed with individuals’ devices supporting the grid as a whole. There’s still many questions such as what the role of the utility is and how distributed vs. centralized it is, but it’s very different.”
With undergraduate and graduate degrees in economics, Camila Carrasco went to work at Chile’s Ministry of Economy. But it was energy and environment policy that began to draw her interest. Because there is immense potential for clean energy sources in Chile, it was exciting for her to foresee the significant changes that accompanied the expansion of the energy grid through renewable sources. Still, Carrasco knew that many hurdles remained unsolved and more skilled professionals were imminently needed in this emerging field.
“I did not want to be just a passive witness of the harm we are slowly doing to the planet,” Carrasco explained. So, she decided to pursue a Master of Environmental Science and Policy degree at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy in order to learn the tools needed to be part of the solution to the environmental challenges.
As a 2016-2017 Bartlett fellow, Carrasco worked with Professor Robert Rosner on the implications of climate change on energy alternatives, using Chile as a case study. “Particularly, different studies show that significant decreases of precipitation are expected in the coming years, affecting the availability of hydro resources in the energy generation sector,” she explained. If not addressed properly, these climate changes might lead to higher energy costs and a greater dependence on fossil fuels.
Carrasco considers her time spent at UChicago incredibly rewarding. Her work with Rosner helped her understand that forming energy policies requires many different aspects and considerations. The merely economic approach is far from sufficient: social implications, community participation, and public approval also need to be considered.
Once she is done with her Master’s, Carrasco hopes to participate in the energy decision-making process that will follow the completion of the new transmission highway interconnecting the two main energy grids in Chile. The highway will improve energy infrastructure and facilitate energy generation from renewable sources, like wind and solar.
The opportunity for involvement with EPIC was a huge factor in Carrasco’s decision to come to UChicago, and she felt honored to have been awarded the fellowship.
Cagatay Dursun worked for several years in Turkey’s private and public sectors, including for the Turkish Aerospace Industries Company. He’s now excited about combining this real-world experience with what he learned in the classroom as a Master’s at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy and, concurrently, a PhD candidate in Science and Technology Policy at the Middle East Technical University in Turkey.
“I want to combine my graduate education with my public sector experience to contribute to the science and technology policy field,” said Dursun, a 2016 summer Bartlett Fellow for EPIC.
At EPIC, Dursun assisted Visiting Assistant Professor Ashley Vissing on a project that explored different ways of modeling firm and landowner interactions when landowners sign leases that transfer rights to firms extracting natural gas. Dursun added to data that describes the specific legal contents of the privately negotiated leases, he explained. The project also involved “figuring out ways to more cleanly identify the externalities between landowners signing leases across an urban area in Texas.”
Dursun’s current interest in energy policy developed throughout his PhD education. As a student of science and technology, he understands the importance of energy policy. “Science and technology policies can be used to solve energy problems and also energy policies can be used to develop science and technology policies such as innovation, technological change and entrepreneurship,” he said.
This interest in energy further increased during his first year at Harris. Learning about energy subjects, like the social cost of carbon, in the Energy Policy Practicum taught by Robert Rosner and Robert Topel motivated Dursun to increase his knowledge on energy policy. Rosner and Topel also inspired him to “get experience on energy and environmental policy studies by coping with the challenges related to different areas of energy and environmental policy,” he said.
This advice led to an interest in nuclear and renewable energy topics because of their close importance to the question of climate change. “The accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can cause irreversible changes in the world climate,” said Dursun. “Nuclear and renewable energy sources can be a sustainable and viable solution for this important problem by providing carbon free energy.”
As a Bartlett fellow, Dursun was most excited to learn more about cutting-edge energy policy and topics. “I will have the chance to work closely with really distinguished researchers on these exciting energy policy fields,” he said. “This will be an exciting experience for me.”
Having lived in Beijing since 2003, the negative health consequences caused by pollution was a part of Maggie Fan’s everyday life. The premature birth of her daughter because of a persistent cough that Fan experienced weeks before her due date was among the most impactful of these challenges. Because of her personal experiences with pollution, Fan is now passionate about paving a way for cleaner sources of energy.
“Many people suffer from the serious air pollution caused mainly by energy generation and consumption,” said Fan, who was pursuing her Master’s of Public Policy at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, and a 2016 summer Bartlett Fellow for EPIC. “Clean air is a basic need for all human beings, [who] should not be deprived of this.”
Before coming to UChicago, Fan worked for the Asian Development Bank, where she partnered with Chinese government officials to effectively and efficiently implement energy projects. She also had experience working with the environmental NGO Future Generation, where she worked as an accountant. Her team there aimed to raise public awareness of energy conservation and researched grassroots clean energy and conservation practices.
Fan applied her real-world experience through her work at EPIC. Specifically, she is worked with Harris Assistant Professor Steve Cicala to estimate the health effects of coal-fired power plants. This can provide valuable information to governments.
“Economic agencies are concerned about the increased cost of clean power generation,” Fan explained. “However, policymakers need to consider the overall social benefit and cost of varies alternatives to energy generation. By providing information on the health effects of coal-fired power plants, policymakers can make better decisions that fully consider the social cost of the various types of power generation.”
Fan was excited by the opportunity to learn from the experts at EPIC and become familiar with the ways in which they address energy issues. She was excited to put to use the research skills that she acquired from her academic program.
Simoni Jain, who is a Masters of Arts in Public Policy with Certification in Research Methods, spent her summer with Harris assistant professor Fiona Burling creating a large-scale panel dataset on Indian industrial firms to study the long-term effects of infrastructural changes on the firms. The most important step for empirical research is preparing the data for analysis and through her work of cleaning and matching datasets, Jain learned about important tools and techniques for data-cleaning and managing large-scale datasets for secondary research.
Jain had the opportunity to hone her coding skills, try new methods, and seek guidance from Burlig when needed.
“I am looking to pursue a full-time research assistant position after graduating from Harris. This opportunity has helped me further my skill set in data analysis and research tasks, thus preparing me better for my short- and long-term plans of pursuing empirical economic research. Most importantly, it has given me a flavor of what the experience of pursuing my own research project would look like.”
Sanya Jha is in her second year in her master’s in environmental science and policy (MSESP) at Harris. She worked with Harris Assistant Professor Amir Jina in support of research that seeks to experimentally identify the impact of air pollution on human capital formation with a field experiment that examines the effect of air pollution on students in India. Jha received Bartlett funding for a summer 2018 internship at the U.N. Environment Programme in Delhi, India, where she assisted with a variety of stakeholder engagement, organizing and research.
“This fellowship is a step forward towards achieving my future goals. Having a background in economics and now environmental science and policy taught me data analysis, and this fellowship will provide me the opportunity to use those skills in real life,” Jha said. “I aspire to get a PhD in the field of energy and environment, and this fellowship provides a path for me to get in-depth knowledge on how to choose a research topic and execute a project. Above all, it will make me a better researcher.”
Joshua Kruskal, who is pursuing a Masters of Science in Environmental Science and Policy at Harris Public Policy, worked at Argonne National Laboratory. Based in the Environmental Science Division, he was able to contribute to research related to clean energy, landscape rehabilitation, and water quality improvement. Kruskal was closely involved with an ongoing project on marginal cropland use and developing computer models to test whether growing switchgrass and other biomass for ethanol in these areas might be ecologically and economically feasible.
“From this experience, I’ll certainly be taking away a much deeper appreciation for the challenges of complex systems analysis—the vast amount of data that must be gathered and cleaned, the extensive calibration and testing of models, and finally the interpretation of outputs. From a professional standpoint, this summer has already proven enormously beneficial.”
Theo was a Pre-Doctoral Fellow with EPIC and primarily worked on the Social Cost of Carbon project. When it comes to his research, Theo’s interested in making the representation of energy systems and energy use in Integrated Assessment Models more realistic and useful.
“These tools are a key component of our ability to think about national and global energy policy issues.”
Before coming to EPIC, Theo completed his Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy (MSESP) degree at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. In addition to pursuing his master’s degree, Theo lived in Cairo, Egypt for three years where he worked as a project manager at an environmental consulting firm.
A conversation Theo had with a high school physics teacher originally spurred his interest in the causes and implications of climate change, and therefore, energy topics. As a result, Theo took undergraduate courses while at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign on many of the technical aspects of energy use and recognized he was interested in questions about the impact of energy use on society.
Having participated in the James Bartlett Fellowship Program, Theo is already familiar with “a lot of the great researchers and exciting research being done” at EPIC. While he’s here, Theo hopes to conduct top-quality, policy-relevant research.
Kurt Nugent worked with Harris Assistant Professor Eyal Frank on a variety of projects at the intersection of ecology and economics. Projects included calculating the impacts of animal waste from factory farms on nearby residents, examining the shortcomings of the Sustainable Fishers Act of 1996, exploring the effects of the Endangered Species act on property values and evaluating the effect of using high levels of pesticide in a region in Vietnam. Nugent began his master’s in public policy at Harris after graduating from Wake Forest University with a bachelor’s in politics and international affairs. Bilingual in Spanish and English, Nugent spent Fall 2013 in Barcelona, Spain, investigating river systems along the eastern Spanish coastline. He also has spent half a year teaching English in Argentina. Most recently, he was a coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County in Florida.
“I’m excited to leverage my experience with ecological work to projects that not simply diagnose problems, but are instrumental in crafting solutions to the many challenges we face,” Nugent said. “This fellowship presents the unique opportunity to solidify my quantitative toolkit while still also allowing me to more narrowly define my policy interests going forward.”
Pedro Liedo Orozco became interested in energy policy when the Mexican government passed a reform on the energy sector in 2013, opening the energy market to private entities. Now, thanks to the Sustainable Energy Scholarship provided by the Mexican Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Research, Liedo Orozco completed his Master’s in Public Policy at the University of Chicago’s Harris School.
Liedo Orozco completed his undergraduate at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México in Mexico City, where he studied Economics. His thesis focused on the effects of tax policy on income distribution. After obtaining his degree, he worked at the Tax Policy Unit for the Mexican Ministry of Finance. The job provided him with exposure to relevant policy issues such as free trade zones and declining oil revenue.
“Approaching these topics strengthened my analytical skills such as forecasting, regression analysis, and policy comparison,” said Liedo Orozco, all important now to his work in energy.
As a 2016-2017 Bartlett fellow at EPIC, he analyzed the connection between energy policies and voter turnout in India. He was excited about the opportunity because it allowed him to merge his interest in public policy and energy.
Chenyu Qiu experienced first-hand the terrible pollution in his home country of China, motivating him to do something about it.
After completing his master’s degree at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy in 2014, he decided to spend the summer before his Harris doctoral program began back home. He participated in a trip with China’s Environmental Research Group organized by Political Science Professor Dali Yang. There, in addition to again witnessing the many local environmental problems, he saw “local government efforts in making better policies.” This further fueled his motivation to help China improve energy and environment policymaking.
Now a PhD student at Harris, Chenyu focuses on the behaviors of market participants in the energy industry, especially in the context of recent technological changes and policy reforms in China. He joined the EPIC team as a 2015-2016 Bartlett Fellow in order to apply his analytical skills to important energy and environmental questions.
At EPIC, Chenyu assisted Professor Koichiro Ito on various projects related to environmental end energy economics.
“One project is about measuring willingness to pay for clean air in China,” he said. In it, he examined data from air purifier markets in China to investigate how much people in Chinese cities are willing to pay for clean air. He is specifically interested in learning if a fuel economy regulation in Japan creates any impacts on automobile markets in other countries.
Chenyu’s other work at UChicago includes a study with Professor Yang that examined China’s national survey data from 2003 to 2013 in order to find patterns in the public’s attitude toward the environment.
Xinyi Wang is in her second year of her master’s in environmental science and policy at Harris. Wang, who earned her bachelor’s in environmental science and economics from Peking University, worked with EPIC Postdoctoral Scholar Louis Preonas to investigate how farmers’ willingness to pay for higher pump efficiency is affected by electricity rate, subsidies, expected cost savings and other factors.
“My dream of alleviating climate change, and, specifically, limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius has led me to work and study in the energy and environmental fields,” Wang said. “Conducting research at EPIC as a Bartlett Fellow will further that dream by developing expertise.”
During her last year at Renmin University of China, Manyi Wang volunteered at a Chinese national park to protect the living habitats of Siberian tigers, while also participating in a desert planting program. This experience in species protection and desertification control shaped her interest in environmental issues.
“I became aware of the push for decent employment opportunities in green jobs,” she explained, adding that this is how she developed a strong interest in the labor-environment interface to “promote the greening of enterprises, workplace practices and the labor market as a whole.”
As a 2016-2017 Bartlett fellow at EPIC, she is worked with Kim Wolske on a project that researched millennial travel behaviors. By studying the factors, trends and impacts of millennial travel behaviors, researchers can gain insight into future gasoline consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
Before coming to the University of Chicago, Wang interned at the World Wildlife Fund, where she was tasked with reviewing the Ecological Footprint Report. The report measures the supply of and demand on nature to make consumers more aware of their impacts on the environment. Since then, her interest in quantifying the cost of climate change has greatly increased.
Additionally, Wang is interested in the behavioral dimensions of energy issues. For example, she wants to learn more about the influence of market mechanisms on energy consumption, as well as how consumers can be better involved in addressing environmental issues.
As a Bartlett fellow, Wang hoped to enhance her data analysis skills in order to promote changes in consumer behaviors. She also hoped to form a better understand of how to develop effective regulatory frameworks with cost-efficient tools, and how to guide successful energy policies that can be widely implemented.
“I hope my experience at EPIC can help me leverage my skills in translating research into effective environmental policies,” she said.
While pursuing her undergraduate studies in economics and foreign affairs at the University of Virginia, Vera Wang’s memories of her home in China were bittersweet. Her nostalgia for the sweet aroma of the forest floor she explored as a child was tainted by the reality that, for most of her life, she’d worn a mask every time she went outside.
Now, Wang is acting on her belief that quantitative analysis is the key to tackling environmental problems. Her 2017-2018 Bartlett fellowship project focused on the Array of Things, an innovative urban sensing initiative founded in 2016 by the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, and the city of Chicago. Under the direction of Professor Robert Rosner, EPIC’s founding director, Wang calibrated and analyzed data from 500 carbon monoxide sensors around the city.
Wang’s time at EPIC gave her valuable exposure to the role that empirical data plays in the design of smart environmental policy. After earning her master’s, she plans to continue to combat air pollution and other environmental issues in a role with a think tank or non-profit organization.
Shujie Medy Xu, pursuing a MSESP at Harris Public Policy, worked as an intern at Argonne National Lab’s Environmental Division. There, she assessed the economic value of replacing conventional crops with biofuel crops on land within the Mississippi River Basin to mitigate harm to marine life in the Gulf of Mexico caused by a depletion in oxygen levels from agricultural run-off. An accountant for nearly a year before enrolling at Harris, the experience of conducting independent research was new to Xu, and something she said will be valuable in her future career.
“Though I am not planning to be a full-time researcher, having such amazing research experience is very helpful in terms of achieving my career goal of becoming an environmental or sustainability consultant,,” Xu said. “Thinking critically and independently is essential in the consulting field, and the geo-coding skills I learned during the internship will also be very useful in my future career.”
Xiner Xu moved to the U.S. from China at the age of 18 to study at Cornell University. It was there, as an undergraduate majoring in economics and German studies, that she discovered her passion for microeconomic theory and econometrics. But it wasn’t until enrolling as a master’s candidate in the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy that Xu became fascinated by the unique problem posed by environmental and energy economics: the irrational behavior that can arise when consequences don’t necessarily show up in the short run, but often manifest in future generations.
Xu was also drawn by the interesting research analysis opportunities that come with the particularly massive datasets in the field of energy economics. As a Bartlett Fellow, she worked with Dr. Fiona Burlig, an EPIC Postdoctoral Fellow, to analyze data from hundreds of power stations in India. The team aimed to evaluate the efficiency of the country’s energy market by deriving the marginal cost of each plant, from coal and nuclear to geothermal and beyond.
Xu looks forward to applying her experience at EPIC toward a career as an economics researcher.
Like many people from Rugao, China, Chloe Xuke loves to exercise outdoors. Leading a healthy lifestyle comes naturally in Rugao, a world famous longevity city that boasts an incredibly high number of centenarians. But in 2013, grey smoke blanketed the town, forcing its habitually active residents to stay indoors.
It was at that moment that Xuke decided to devote her academic and professional life to environmental stewardship. After studying environmental planning and management at Nanjing University, she enrolled in the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy to pursue a master’s degree in environmental science and policy. As a Bartlett Fellow, Xuke worked with Dr. Ashley Vissing, an EPIC Postdoctoral Fellow, to study oil and natural gas extraction in Texas. The team applied machine-learning languages to nearly 300,000 private mineral rights contracts and is building a statistical model to evaluate their outcomes.
Xuke’s project with Vissing gave her foundational experience in energy and environmental policy research. In the future, she plans to use these skills to help Chinese corporations lower their energy consumption. Xuke’s ultimate goal: make sure her family’s five living generations can breathe easy back home in Rugao.
Back home in China, Miao Zhang examined problems in her country’s smart energy market and investigated China’s foreign direct investment in the energy and resource sectors. Now, she brings that experience with her as a first-year graduate student pursuing a Master of Public Policy at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy. Zhang worked with Professor Prabhat Barnwal as part of EPIC’s Bartlett fellowship program.
In China, Zhang gained experience drafting policy briefs as an intern at the Development and Research Center of State Council in China while at Tsinghua University in Beijing. At Tsinghua, she majored in Economics and Linguistics and worked on various projects, including one that measured environmental awareness in China. Her interest in energy topics began with a course on environmental economics and she expanded it through coursework and internship experience.
“The more I engaged with environmental issues, the more problems I found existing in these sectors,” Zhang explained. Her primary research interests now revolve around energy markets and energy policy.
As a Bartlett fellow, Miao assisted Professor Barnwal on a project that analyzed input decisions and productivity in agriculture, focusing on inputs that cause externalities, such as fertilizers and ground water irrigation. The objective for the summer was “to clean and make data ready for analysis of the impact of policy and non-policy factors,” she explained, adding that the project “explored an interesting perspective of externalities in productivity in agriculture and will shed light on environmental quality and policies.”
Miao wanted to take advantage of her time as a Bartlett fellow to learn how to best carry out a research project. Additionally, she hoped that her summer internship will put her in “contact with more cutting-edge research in energy policy.”
As an intern in a Tokyo consulting firm, Yawen Zhao noticed many Japanese brands creating air conditioners that could detect human movements and body temperature in order to automatically adjust temperatures to save energy. She learned from this the impact technology could have on shaping and benefitting policy.
Noticing a giant gap in energy efficiency knowledge between Japan and her home country of China, Yawen Zhao became interested in energy issues and social conservation awareness. She is now pursuing this topic as a masters student at the Harris School of Public Policy, studying specifically energy policy, international development and public finance.
As an EPIC Bartlett Fellow, Zhao learned that technology could also have negative impacts. As a fellow, she worked with EPIC Postdoctoral Fellow Katherine Meckel to study human development and healthcare. Part of her work included looking at the association between natural gas development and impacts on infant mortality.
“The experience at EPIC leads me to connect energy issues with healthcare and human development,” Zhao says. “I want to acquire better data analysis and research skills, and here at EPIC, the skills-sets that are cultivated and initiatives that you are encouraged to take are undoubtedly of the best value.”
Coming from Beijing, where air pollution is a major challenge, Zeyuan Zhou became interested in environmental problems caused by energy consumption. An atmospheric scientist by training, Zhou studied PM2.5 pollution—considered by many to be the most toxic form of pollution. But while living in China, she noticed the tight connection this pollution had to the economy.
“Because China is a developing country…the traffic and manufacturers are greatly responsible for the problem,” Zeyuan Zhou says.
Now a first-year Master’s student at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy specializing in environmental science and policy, Zhou joined the EPIC team as a Bartlett Fellow and worked with Professor Michael Greenstone, who has studied PM2.5 pollution in China extensively.
At EPIC, Zhou worked closely with the Social Cost of Carbon team to collect data on population, labor, energy, and mortality at both the country and state levels. She is interested in the merging of various energy topics, environmental problems, and economic and policy concerns. She hoped to delve deeper into the project to “see how it runs, to utilize and learn some data cleaning methods in practice,” and learn new software skills.