EPIC is pleased to welcome a new class of fellows to the James Bartlett Fellowship Program in Energy and Environmental Policy and the DRW Graduate Fellowship in Economics & Policy for the academic year. The fellows have the opportunity to work closely with EPIC affiliated faculty on a variety of research initiatives from environmental law, to the urban heat island effect, and the relationship between climate change and wealth inequity.

Learn more about each of our fellows.

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

Brandon Charles, who is pursuing a Master of Arts in Public Policy at Harris Public Policy, is working with Mark Templeton, the director of the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic. The Clinic challenges those who pollute illegally, advocates for changes to regulations and laws, holds environmental agencies accountable, and develops innovative approaches for improving the environment. Charles returned to graduate school following twelve years of working in the electric utility industry and chose to study at Harris to gain a better understanding of energy transition policies as well as the social and economic challenges related to those policies.

“I am learning a great deal about accomplishing novel policy outcomes through state-level regulatory processes. I am especially enjoying gaining first-hand exposure to the persistence, creativity, and flexibility necessary for introducing new scientific techniques, forms of information, and worldviews into existing policy processes. This experience will be invaluable to my career goal of positively impacting human mitigation of and adaptation to climate change.”

David Lopez Soto
Bartlett Fellow; Kim Wolske, Assistant Professor, Harris School of Public Policy

David Lopez Soto, a Master of Arts in Public Policy student at Harris, is assisting assistant professor Kim Wolske with a systematic literature review on factors that influence the uptake of household energy investments, such as purchasing efficient appliances, renewable energy technologies, or fuel-efficient cars. Soto is helping with the synthesis and addressing the quality of hundreds of studies to determine what are the main takeaways in terms of technology adoption. Before joining the Harris School, he worked for the Energy Department of the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington D.C.

“By studying the behaviors that led people to acquire energy technologies, we could improve policy design and accelerate technology adoption. This is very important, especially in developing countries, where households face many challenges in terms of energy access, quality, and affordability. I was interested in the Bartlett Fellowship to strengthen my research skills and be capable to identify important and energy policy-relevant questions. I intend to focus my academic career on shedding new light on important energy policy issues in developing countries, and I have no doubt that joining Professor Wolske’s research team would help me meet this higher goal.”

Rukhshan Mian
Bartlett Fellow; Eyal Frank, Assistant Professor, Harris Public Policy

Rukhshan Mian, a Master of Science in Computational Analysis and Public Policy (MSCAPP) student is working with Harris assistant professor Eyal Frank to study the impacts of the 1996 Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act, a landmark U.S. fisheries law whose future is in limbo. Using a first-of-its-kind national data set on fisheries management, the team can quantify the effect of this policy. Mian creates workflows to collect, manage and analyze data for the research project, including setting up data infrastructure, utilizing multiple programming and statistical languages (Python, Stata, RStudio) and cloud computing applications (AWS, Google Cloud).

“At the end of this fellowship, I will have gained more knowledge on the subject matters and how quantitative and qualitative tools can aid research. My exposure to cloud computing has been insightful. My current work focuses on using OCR and this has allowed me to look into and test Amazon Web Services and Google’s Cloud Services as well. Furthermore, it has made me more comfortable with using Python and Stata for data-management and collection.”

Xiling (Celia) Zhu
Bartlett Fellow; Fiona Burlig, Assistant Professor, Harris Public Policy

Xiling (Celia) Zhu, a Master of Public Policy (MPP) Student at Harris Public Policy, is spending the year with Harris Assistant Professor Fiona Burlig on large-scale administrative data pertaining to energy and environmental policy projects. Zhu will aid in data collection, management, and analysis.

“I am interested in applied microeconomics and especially passionate about the intersection of labor and development economics. The Bartlett fellowship provides me the opportunity to gain hands-on research experience and sharpen the analytical and programming skills I built during my first year at Harris. I see myself using the experience as a Bartlett Fellow in pursuing a research-oriented degree and in my future research career.”

Lily Grier
DRW Fellow; Amir Jina, Assistant Professor, Harris Public Policy

Lily Grier, a Master of Science in Computational Analysis and Public Policy (MSCAPP) student at Harris Public Policy, is teaming up with Harris assistant professor Amir Jina to study the relationship between climate change and wealth inequity. Grier is using historical global temperature data to identify the areas within countries that experience the most extreme heat and comparing that to the spatial distribution of wealth within countries. The ultimate goal of the project is to see whether climate change disproportionately affects communities experiencing greater levels of poverty.

“I greatly value the experience of having ownership over a project from its inception. Much of the research process is about determining the best questions to ask and what data is best suited to answer those questions. This process involves adapting the project based on developments and challenges. My current project looks very different from what I had originally set out to do and learning how to be flexible and willing to change plans as needed is certainly valuable in any field. I plan to pursue a career as a data scientist, and my experiences at EPIC have prepared me to handle the types of messy problems that lie ahead.”

Jonathan Rockower
DRW Fellow; Ryan Kellogg, Professor, Harris Public Policy

Jonathan Rockower, a Master of Science in Computational Analysis and Public Policy (MSCAPP) student at Harris Public Policy, is working with Professor Ryan Kellogg to evaluate the economic impacts of the Jones Act, which prevents nearly all movement of oil and refined petroleum products from the U.S. Gulf Coast to the Eastern Seaboard. As a result of this act, oil and refined products are exported from the Gulf Coast around the world, while the Eastern Seaboard imports oil and refined products from the Middle East. Rockower helped advance the project’s goal of estimating the costs of wasteful imports and exports by cleaning and analyzing detailed data on U.S. imports and exports of oil and refined products.

“The fellowship is providing me the opportunity to build on my skills I developed in the first year of the Computational Analysis and Public Policy program while helping Professor Kellogg manage and analyze the data. It will also hopefully give me a chance to see a research workflow from near the beginning to completion. After graduate school, I am hoping to work as a data engineer, helping organizations prepare and manage their data. This opportunity is giving me the chance to develop those skills while improving my coding and organizational skills in the process.”

Daniel Vallejo
DRW Fellow; Anant Sudarshan, Executive Director (South Asia), EPIC

Daniel Vallejo, a Master of Public Policy (MPP) student at Harris Public Policy, works with EPIC South Asia Director Anant Sudarshan to quantify the heat island effect in India. Vallejo is processing and analyzing data to determine the temperature changes due to urban heat islands and quantifying the different effects the changes in temperatures will have on economic and social variables in the country. Prior to his time at the University of Chicago, Vallejo worked as a civil engineer focused on rural reform in Colombia, most recently as a water specialist with Fundación Grupo Argos.

“The DRW fellowship will highly increase my data analytics capacity. I have been learning how to analyze and process spatial data, not only for heat measurements but for many other purposes. This experience has opened the door to a sector in which I had an interest in working. I have always had a passion for environmental resources and impacts but having now the tools to do large-scale impact analysis will permit me to amplify the fields I will be capable of working on.”