Six students from the Harris School of Public Policy spent their summers working closely with University of Chicago faculty as part of the James Bartlett Fellowship Program in Energy and Environmental Policy and the DRW Graduate Fellowship in Economics & Policy. From quantifying the impact of reintroducing wolves into certain regions to researching how expanding the supply of solar energy can impact wages and analyzing where daycare facilities in Illinois have dangerous levels of lead in their drinking water, each fellow gained valuable skills this summer. Learn more about their experiences.


Xiaoting Sun

DRW Fellow; Andy Hultgren, Postdoctoral Scholar, EPIC

Xiaoting Sun, who is pursuing a Masters in Computational Analysis and Public Policy (MSCAPP) at Harris Public Policy, spent her summer with EPIC Postdoctoral Scholar Andy Hultgren on a research project that sought to determine how firms respond to the discovery that their products may be harmful and how they face future regulation. Sun helped construct a novel dataset of scientific discoveries of product harms.

“This internship enlightened me to how computer science could help solve real problems in academic research. I was able to hone various skills that I learned in my first academic year in the MSCAPP program and especially enjoyed diving deep into the record-linkage techniques, as I merged two large-scale datasets by the string matching tools. Working with my mentor, Andy, was a precious journey, as he deepened my understanding of industrial organization and econometrics in the environmental area. With these take-aways, I see EPIC as better preparing me for my academic career both methodologically and theoretically.”


Chi Cheng

DRW Fellow; Shaoda Wang, Assistant Professor, Harris Public Policy

Chi Cheng, a Master of Arts in Public Policy with Certificate in Research Methods (MACRM) student, teamed up with Harris Assistant Professor Shaoda Wang. Cheng assisted in a project studying how livestreaming judicial trials affect court rulings, with environmental lawsuits as a case study. Cheng created datasets, literature reviews, and data visualization. He plans to pursue a doctoral degree in political economy after graduation.

“I learned how to combine information from different sources to conduct a comprehensive analysis. The EPIC experience also enhanced my adaptability skills, which could be quite useful when conducting cutting-edge research. Technically, I learned the skills to deal with large-scale datasets, as well as data visualization. EPIC allowed me to learn about the challenges a researcher could face and prepare me for my future years of pursuing a PhD in a related field.”


Kaveri Chhikara

DRW Fellow; Eyal Frank, Assistant Professor, Harris Public Policy

Kaveri Chhikara, a Masters in Computational Analysis and Public Policy (MSCAPP) student at Harris Public Policy, and Harris Assistant Professor Eyal Frank worked to quantify the impact of controversial policy reintroducing wolves into certain regions. The project aims to understand the relationship between wildlife car accidents and the presence of wolves in the United States. Chhikara created a panel dataset on road collisions spanning over decades for each state in the country and analysed this data to identify meaningful patterns.

“The project introduced me to different aspects of academic research and the challenges that lie therein. I was able to directly apply some of the concepts learned as part of the core courses at Harris and also utilize my coding skills for a real-world project. Above all, the project taught me how to critically look at policies and use data to scientifically gauge their impact. It was a privilege to work with Professor Frank and learn from him. The research made me aware about the intricacies of environmental policy issues, its widespread impact and understanding involvement of different stakeholders. This hands-on experience with empirical research has better prepared me for a future academic career.”


Kashif Ahmed

Bartlett Fellow; Fiona Burlig, Assistant Professor, Harris Public Policy

Kashif Ahmed, a Masters of Public Policy (MPP) student at Harris Public Policy, teamed up with Harris Assistant Professor Fiona Burlig. Ahmed studied the effects of cash transfers to low-income migrant workers in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. While conducting an endline survey via phone to thousands of migrant workers, he ran data quality assurance checks and coordinated closely with a field team in Delhi.

“I now have a preliminary understanding of how cash transfers affect the expenditures, decisions, and wellness of low-income workers, as well as a sense of common challenges in India. The project was also well organized and had a superb field team in Delhi that was great to work with. It was also great to be able to practice my STATA skills and use my understanding of econometrics that I learned in my first year of Harris.  After Harris, I want to pursue careers that bridge the gap between social science research and policymakers in Global South countries and working for this project and EPIC is a great step in that direction.”


Max Snyder

Bartlett Fellow; Koichiro Ito, Associate Professor, Harris Public Policy

Max Snyder, an MPP student at the Harris School of Public Policy, and Associate Professor Koichiro Ito’s research focused on how expanding the supply of solar energy can impact wages, employment, and productivity. Snyder also researched how governments can use subsidies to optimally incentivize the transition to solar energy sources.

“Working at EPIC with Koichiro Ito has been a wonderful opportunity. The Bartlett Fellowship has provided opportunities to research how energy policy impacts economic outcomes, to apply econometric techniques learned in coursework, and to receive thoughtful feedback on independent research projects. While the environmental challenges of the 21st century loom large, EPIC’s blend of academic rigor and policy expertise offers an inspiring path forward. I’m leaving this position excited to pursue a career researching issues at the intersection of environmental and economic well-being.”


Jason Winik

Bartlett Fellow; Mark Templeton, Director, Abrams Environmental Law Clinic

Jason Winik, an MPP student at Harris Public Policy, spent his summer working with Mark Templeton, the director of the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic. Winik performed geospatial analyses to understand where daycare facilities in Illinois have dangerous levels of lead in their drinking water and are out of compliance with Illinois testing requirements. A report will be published incorporating Winik’s visualizations and findings to raise awareness about the severity of the issue to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and provide policy recommendations to remove lead more swiftly from Illinois’ drinking water.

“I am interested in using data analysis to inform environmental policy and decision-making, so to help draw attention to the lead contamination problem in Illinois and hopefully catalyze further action was extremely rewarding. This was a great opportunity to not only put the quantitative skills I learned last year into practice, but to design and implement my own analysis that both technical and non-technical audiences can understand.”