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A native of Guangzhou, China, Yuqi Song has continued to develop her research skills since coming to America in 2010. Along the way, she realized she wants to find policy solutions to major environmental and energy issues through economic research, with particular attention to her native land.

That makes Song’s position as a research assistant for the Climate Impact Lab, a project co-led by EPIC Director Michael Greenstone, a natural fit. Greenstone focuses much of his research on environmental and energy challenges in China.

“When I grew up, China was going through this transition where it has to focus on the growth of the economy, with the idea that we were sacrificing environmental benefits, and when we got richer we would always have time and money to go back and [address environmental issues],” Song said. “The more time that goes on, the pollution is getting worse and worse. People are beginning to doubt if we could ever go back to what we had.”

Song first met Greenstone as an undergraduate at MIT, from which she graduated in 2014 with bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and economics. She decided to do a senior thesis on a Chinese license plate program that limits when residents can drive to reduce pollution. Greenstone, who at the time was the 3M Professor of Environmental Economics at MIT, agreed to be Song’s thesis advisor.

Later, unsure of her desire to pursue an economics PhD, Song enrolled in a finance program at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, which meant she also took additional economics courses. Most of her research at Booth was policy- and China-related.

While finishing her MBA at Booth in early 2017, Song reconnected with Greenstone and took a part-time job at EPIC for several months. In September she came on board as a full-time research assistant. Song plans to get a PhD in economics and hopes to one day tackle global challenges through academic research or an organization such as the International Monetary Fund or World Bank.

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