Six of EPIC’s pre-doctoral fellows will be taking on new academic challenges this fall. Over the past two years, the fellows have worked closely with EPIC-affiliated faculty and staff to produce valuable research and develop new skills.
The highly competitive fellowship provides young researchers who have completed their bachelor’s degrees the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a full-time work environment under the guidance of EPIC-affiliated faculty and researchers. This year’s departing class – including Sushant Banjara, Ivan Higuera, Tianyu Luo, Ian Pittman, Alice Schmitz, and Lixi Wang – are moving on to pursue advanced degrees in economics, public policy and earth science. Each will leave with the strong support network of professors, postdoctoral scholars, and colleagues who helped advance their research skills, knowledge base and career paths.
Sushant Banjara worked with Eyal Frank, an assistant professor at the Harris School of Public Policy, on projects that study the cost of conservation policies and wildlife population on the economy and public health. In the fall, Banjara will be staying at the University of Chicago to pursue his PhD at the Harris School of Public Policy.
“There couldn’t have been a better place for me to transition into economics from a purely engineering background. The research at EPIC is cutting edge, the faculty members are supportive and approachable, and there is a commendable focus on fostering communication between research fellows to facilitate academic discussions and exchange of ideas. I am glad I joined EPIC.”
Iván Higuera spent his time at EPIC supporting research by Steve Cicala, EPIC non-resident fellow, on the impacts of COVID-19 on energy consumption and the effects of coal plant activity on local health by combining wind modeling and remote sensing data. Additionally, Higuera worked with the Climate Impact Lab supporting the “integrated” Social Cost of Carbon project, which adds the impacts of different economic activities and implements equity and uncertainty considerations into the SCC calculation. He will join the Earth Science System doctoral program at Stanford University under the supervision of Dr. Marshall Burke this fall.
“EPIC has been an amazing place to learn how to tackle the most pressing problems in environmental and climate economics from different perspectives. I learned how to parse the economic and climate science literature, and how to frame research questions with not only academic, but social relevance. At the same time, EPIC allowed me to share time with a community of engaged researchers and other predocs who were always present to discuss my ideas and anxieties.”
During his time at EPIC, Tianyu Luo worked with Harris Public Policy Associate Professor Koichiro Ito on the impact of infrastructure investment on the electricity market in Chile. Luo’s next step will be joining the PhD program in Economics at Columbia University this fall.
“Working day-to-day on an empirical project has made me more aware of what errors I was prone to making and taught me tangible steps I can take to address them. I have also become more comfortable reaching out for help, thanks in large part to the friendly, forgiving people I am lucky to have worked with.”
While at EPIC, Ian Pitman worked with EPIC Director Michael Greenstone on numerous projects related to air pollution, marine conservation, and renewable energy. In the fall, Pitman will be staying in Hyde Park to start his PhD in Economics at the University of Chicago.
“My time at EPIC has deepened my understanding of economics research methods while broadening the scope of my research interests. I am grateful for Professor Greenstone’s guidance and for the support of the EPIC community, which has given me excellent preparation for pursuing a PhD and future career in research.”
Alice Schmitz spent her time at EPIC working with Michael Greenstone on projects related to air pollution and energy markets. This year Schmitz was selected as a 2021 National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program honorable mention. She will be attending the University of California, Berkeley to pursue a PhD in Economics.
“My time at EPIC allowed me to work with a variety of experts and peers who shared my passion for researching pressing issues about human welfare. Through my experiences at EPIC in both the technical implementation of this research and its communication to broad audiences, I have gained invaluable skills that I will carry with me into graduate school.”
Lixi Wang worked with Thomas Covert, an assistant professor at the Booth School of Business, and Ryan Kellogg, a professor at the Harris School of Public Policy, on their research in the U.S. oil and gas industry. His work covered a wide range of topics such as well production analysis, firm productivity estimation, market behavior analysis, and land and mineral rights in the United States. Wang will enter the PhD economics program at the University of Maryland in the fall.
“The last two years I have been able to conduct research under the supervision of my PIs and this experience helped to shape my own research interest as well as to further develop my own technical skills. This will make my transition from a student to a researcher in my PhD easier. More importantly, I am fortunate enough to have the chance to meet and know other RAs, PIs and other wonderful people at EPIC, BFI and the entire UChicago. I hope to keep in touch with them, not only as ex-coworkers or potential collaborators, but more importantly as friends.”