Ioana Adriana Branga-Peicu
Home country: South Africa
Research interests: Behavioral economics, social psychology, public policy, social wellbeing, financial inclusion, game theory
My main interests are using behavioral and experimental economic insights to contribute towards improving social structures and economic progress. The DEDP MicroMasters built on my knowledge of behavioral economics and finance and introduced me to Development economics and policy, providing a theoretical understanding and concrete applications of evidence-based policy design. My previous work includes research assistant roles with Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit and J-PAL Africa, and serving as a Junior Researcher in Environmental and Behavioural Economics at the University of Osnabrück. At MIT, I’m most looking forward to the learning experience and knowledge exchange with professors and peers who have a wealth of knowledge and insights from all across the globe and different disciplines.
Home country: Chile
Research interests: Applying econometrics and computational techniques to impact evaluation
Before coming to MIT I was working as a research consultant at the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation on projects related to migration, cash transfers and early childhood education. I also worked as a research and teaching assistant at PUC’s school of government, focusing on early childhood education and courses related to microeconomics, data analysis and impact evaluation. I initially joined the MicroMasters when I began working on impact evaluation projects as I had a background in statistics and econometrics but wanted to deepen my knowledge of economics. The courses exceeded my expectations, allowing me to learn about new topics that were key to helping me improve in my job. My main research interest is understanding how through evidenced based policies and economic theory we are able to address some of the biggest social issues that affect people. After DEDP, I hope to continue doing research and eventually apply for a PhD in economics.
Home country: Egypt
Research interests: Leveraging big data and machine learning to drive development policy
I joined the MicroMasters program to learn more about the intersection between data science and policy design and implementation. I also wanted to gain more exposure to cutting-edge research and learn from world-class professors with hands-on impactful practical experience. My background prior to DEDP is in the Data Science and Advanced Analytics department at the Central Bank of Egypt, focusing on working with data science tools like time-series forecasting and natural language processing to inform economic policy. My focus was on working with data science tools and techniques to drive economic policy. After the master's program, I'm excited to return to Egypt where I can leverage what I learn in DEDP to directly work on targeted data-driven policies that would leave a positive impact. I’m looking forward to continuing my learning experience in person and connecting with others who are passionate about data and development!
Home country: Venezuela
Research interests: The relationship between institutional arrangements, political economy, and development outcomes.
I have worked at the World Bank for over 10 years in South America, Southeast Asia, and most recently in the Caribbean. I am currently the World Bank's Country Representative for five small island states in the Eastern Caribbean. I joined the MicroMasters because I wanted to deepen my knowledge of development economics and learn more about recent empirical studies. What excites me the most about coming to MIT is having the opportunity to learn from world class professors and interact with students and faculty conducting cutting edge research in development economics, which will inform my work when I return to my role as Country Representative.
Home country: Netherlands
Research interests: Measuring and evaluation for development programs
In the last few years, I have been working as a monitoring and evaluation consultant in the humanitarian sector, specializing in Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) projects that focus on cost-efficiency and maintaining the dignity of recipients in humanitarian contexts. Initially, I joined just one of the courses of the MicroMasters to refine my knowledge in the field of development economics, but I ended up enjoying the content so much that I signed up
for all the courses and completed the whole program. Now that I have arrived at MIT, I am eager to further improve my quantitative research skills and to deepen my knowledge of development economics, specifically in the fields of CVA, livelihood, and education. Moreover, I am excited to meet the professors that have inspired me so much and fellow students with whom I share a passion to make the fight against poverty more data-driven.
Home country: United States
Research interests: Leveraging information technology, causal inference, and quantitative analysis for policy evaluation, especially in education and health.
My background in Computer Science, Data Science, Economics, and Business has allowed me to work in a variety of fields, including equity trading at Morgan Stanley, implementing advanced supply chain analytics at Oracle, and building large-scale digital marketing platforms at Responsys, and leading the Experimentation and Causal Inference team at LinkedIn. With the completion of the DEDP MicroMasters program, I recognized how much it serves as a pivotal junction, in my journey of transformation, both professionally and personally. I am thrilled about becoming an engaging part of this purposeful, driven, and captivating community at MIT. My aspiration following the program is to work in a research focused practitioner role within esteemed international organizations such as the World Bank or the United Nations.
Home country: Nepal
Research interests: Scaling, civic empowerment
I stumbled onto the book Poor Economics by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo and finished it in one sitting. It related so much with my work in Nepal around civic participation and governmental accountability. I had always battled with questions like how do I know my work is actually making a difference? What kind of work actually makes a difference? What is good evidence? After researching more about the authors, I stumbled upon the MicroMasters program and I loved every course I took. I have over nine years of experience working in the social impact, change and innovation sector. I lead a non-profit organization in Nepal called the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation which advances civic justice, participatory democracy, and responsive governance in Nepal through civic technology, digital media advocacy, and grassroots development. I'm excited about going back to school, and I especially look forward to the broader MIT community and its innovative labs, lectures, seminars and lunch discussions (and the cold weather, while it lasts!).
Home country: Canada
Research interests: Applications of technology to development problems, including the use of machine learning and SaaS
I was drawn to the MicroMasters program through my work as a product manager at Benevity, a B Corporation whose software platform helps companies engage their employees, customers and broader stakeholders around 'Goodness' to help drive business and social impact. I discovered development economics through the books and presentations of Hans Rosling, Abhijit Banerjee, and Esther Duflo, and thoroughly enjoyed each MicroMasters course. I even wrote a quick blog article on my experience with the program, for anyone interested (here). At MIT, I’m excited about finding new ways to apply technology and better understand and reduce global poverty, and after the program I hope to build and improve software platforms that support global development and improved quality of life.
Philip (Kei Chuen) Ma
Home country: Hong Kong
Research interests: Harnessing economic strategies to bolster healthcare system engineering,
with a keen focus on how economic policy can serve as a catalyst for enhancing health
services in underserved communities
As a medical doctor, my path to the MIT DEDP program has been profoundly influenced by
witnessing the stark disparities in health outcomes linked to socio-economic status. This observation and drive led me to the world of economics, with its profound potential to address and alleviate health-related social challenges. DEDP has been instrumental in sharpening my interest in economics, providing me with fresh perspectives to tackle medical challenges. The program’s detailed and clear coursework has expanded my understanding and reshaped my approach to healthcare. After completing the master’s program, I am eager to return to Hong Kong to undertake policy work and academic research. I am dedicated to leveraging the insights gained at MIT to effect meaningful changes in healthcare. It is my hope to inspire a new paradigm within Hong Kong’s healthcare sector, one that places a strong emphasis on community-wide health impacts.
Elizabeth (Beth) Lowe
Home country: United States
Research interests: Urban issues, access to education, healthcare, and the natural environment.
I discovered the MicroMasters program when I was looking for a pivot in my career path, and was immediately drawn in by the explanatory power of the research methods we learned about in The Challenges of Global Poverty course. I have followed a meandering career path to this point, with experience as an economic consultant for a private firm, a program presenter at Boston's Museum of Science, and a Landscape Designer running my own business. The theme running through all of these jobs is caring for the well being of people and their connection to their environment. I am particularly interested in seeking solutions to problems affecting the well-being of the urban poor around the world, including access to education, healthcare, and the natural environment. After DEDP, I hope to use the knowledge I gain from this program to help inform policy discussions in the US, in particular understanding the deep roots of our political conflicts.
Home country: Philippines
Research interests: Education, institutions, and corruption
Before coming to DEDP I worked in scholarly publishing, first as an administrative assistant then as the assistant managing editor for economics journals. My roles allowed me to see the behind the scenes of publishing a research paper, from processing original submissions to copy editing accepted articles, so I was continually exposed to the latest economic ideas and research. My first experience with development though was through an internship with a nonprofit organization in the Philippines that aimed to alleviate poverty through sustainable means, specifically solar energy. At MIT, I’m excited to learn from world-renowned researchers and collaborate with other passionate students from all over the world! In the future, I would like to work for a nonprofit and begin a career in helping policymakers design and deliver programs to assist in addressing poverty and educational measures in the Philippines.
Home country: Somaliland
Research interests: How the political agendas of the elite affect the type of policies adopted, how safeguarding human rights strengthens peace and prevents conflict, how climate change adaptation policies affect the poor, and how promoting intra-African trade spurs economic growth in the continent.
I have worked for the UN Migration Agency (IOM) for close to fifteen years. During this time, I constantly found myself asking questions about whether our development projects were making the intended impact. My journey to DEDP started with getting a certificate in Monitoring and Evaluation offered by the International Training Center of the International Labour Organization. Our course coach recommended us to take some MITx courses and that led me to the MicroMasters program. At MIT, I am interested in digging deeper into the political economy questions surrounding the development of African countries. My diverse research interests all boil down to promoting pro-poor, evidence-based policymaking in the developing world. Africa is the new battleground for fighting global poverty in the twenty-first century. After the program, I am planning to establish a consultancy company to advise government agencies, non-profits, and the private sector’s corporate social responsibility departments on designing, implementing, and evaluating policies and programs using rigorous evidence.
Luca Moreno Louzada
Home country: Brazil
Research interests: Econometrics, the intersection between development economics and political science, environmental sciences, and public health
I was in the second year of my bachelor’s in economics when our university sponsored access to the MicroMasters program for students. I have long been interested in development economics and the opportunity to study this topic with the possibility of residential coursework at MIT was something I could not miss. Recently, I have been working as a research assistant at Insper in São Paulo on different themes within applied microeconomics. I've also collaborated with UNEP on a project related to global waste management and completed an internship in equity research at Morgan Stanley. I currently hope to do a PhD in economics after DEDP, and eventually work in environments where research meets policy, such as in multilateral organizations.
Home country: Indonesia
Research interests: Applying economics and statistics to solve education and health challenges in Indonesia
I am interested in using data analytics in the education and health sectors so studying economics is a perfect fit for me. Taking and finishing the MicroMasters courses was quite challenging, but I was committed to earning the MicroMasters credential and applying to the DEDP program at MIT. Before DEDP, I worked as a data scientist in several industries for about five years. After the program, I plan to return to Indonesia and begin working as a policy analyst in the education and health sectors. While I am not excited for the cold weather in Cambridge, I love meeting other driven people who are working on solving problems around the world!
Home country: India
Research interests: Political economy and governance, development policy design, and using
AI/ML in the development context
I began my development-sector career by starting an NGO that worked on reintegrating survivors of trafficking, then transitioned to Dalberg Advisors to work on strategy projects for Multilaterals, Governments, and Non-Profit clients across topics such as livelihood, gender, education, energy-access, and financial inclusion in East Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. In 2020, when millions of Indian migrants had to walk home due to lockdowns, I started working with a Dalit-led NGO to support strategy design for India’s largest program working with internal migrant workers. I set up their government engagement vertical, and worked with several Indian state governments on improving social protection systems. I initially started the DEDP course to build a deeper foundation of academic and research concepts. I soon found myself using course lessons (e.g. performing regression analysis; using tools like the Poverty Probability Index; and applying concepts like indifference curves) regularly in my daily work with NGOs and governments and found the lessons to be incredibly relevant. After the program, I am interested in working with governments and policy-makers to bridge the gaps between evidence, policy, and implementation.
Home country: Pakistan
Research interests: I am interested in the health impacts of climate change and testing policies to mitigate the damage the damage environmental degradation is causing around the world.
I initially started the MicroMasters courses because I wanted to understand the foundations behind my work in development consulting and government advising. The online courses were very rigorous, but I enjoyed the challenge. At MIT, I am looking forward to getting back into an academic community, learning about the newest research in development, and living as a student again (after working for five years and also having a baby!). After finishing the DEDP program, I am planning to return to my home country to continue working in the development sector.
Home country: India
Research interests: Taxation in lower and middle income countries, including increasing voluntary compliance and better revenue management through effective development schemes
I have been working as a civil servant with the Government of India for the past twelve years, and through my work was encouraged to sign up for the DEDP MicroMasters. I loved the content and the scientific method of policymaking. I am gradually moving into the policy making space from my work in tax return assessment, investigation, law, and training, and I am interested in learning more about using scientific evidence to inform policy. What most excites me about being at MIT is the diversity of educational backgrounds, current work profiles, and future projects of all the students in our cohort, with all of us working directly or indirectly on development. After the program, I plan to return to India and work at the intersection of my interests and experience, particularly in tax, finance, and womens and childrens development. India is a growing economy with the advantage of demographic dividend and I want to contribute to the best of my abilities, and I believe DEDP will help me do my best personally and professionally.
Home country: Malaysia
Research interests: Development policy design, behavioral economics
Before coming to DEDP, I was a product manager at a fintech startup in Malaysia called Bjak. I focused on providing seamless and easy-to-understand digital insurance and financing services to the mass public. Looking to transition from engineering to the public sector, I was interested in learning more about economics. MicroMasters courses allowed me to do so while working full-time. After taking a few courses, I was inspired to complete the master's program and pursue my career in development economics. I look forward to diving deeper into the studies I've learned in the MicroMasters program. On top of that, I am excited about the opportunity to learn from faculties and students who are passionate about improving people's lives from all around the world. In the future, I plan to return to Malaysia and work on data-driven, evidence-based policy design.