Class of 2023

Global map with the home countries of the 2023 DEDP students indicated.

 

Luisa Cerca
Home country: Portugal

Photo of Luisa Cerca

Why did you initially join the MicroMasters program? 
Development economics was my absolute favorite subject at university and both Duflo and Banerjee were regular names in the papers we studied. When I found out they were teaching the online DEDP MicroMasters with the possibility of a campus semester, I jumped at the opportunity to learn as much as I could from them (and hopefully meet them one day!). The courses did not disappoint and were thought-provoking and enjoyable.

Previous work: I started my career as an analyst at an asset management firm, initially focused on multi-asset advisory for pension funds and later as a portfolio manager of fixed income assets. However, I have always been interested in development and decided to pivot in that direction and join an impact investing company, where I am now part of the investment team and work on progressing transactions in the African agriculture space that have both a social and financial return.

 

Raymundo Durán
Home country: Mexico

Photo of Raymundo Durán

Why did you initially join the MicroMasters program? 
I came across the MicroMasters in 2017 while involved in a heated Reddit discussion on economics. I watched the Program's introductory video and was completely drawn in by policy evaluation. That same day, even though I had a full-time job, I decided to enroll in all five available courses at the time. 

Previous work: I worked at the Bank of Mexico as an analyst some years ago, and after completing a master's degree in economics, I opened my own consultancy for social and political organizations. Currently, as a TA for the MicroMasters course in microeconomics, I have the opportunity to give learners back at least a fraction of everything the DEDP MicroMasters gave me.

Research interests: Networks, Causal inference, Microfinance, Development Policy design

Plans following the program: I'd like to find out whether a PhD path is something I would enjoy. I'm also thinking of pursuing a policymaking role in government. 

 

Abdonel Abiel Devilme
Home country: Haiti

Photo of Abdonel Abiel Devilme

Why did you initially join the MicroMasters program? 
During my bachelor’s degree, I had some questions on the criteria policymakers should consider when implementing programs.
Furthermore, I was curious about the best practices to tackle poverty. When I attended the Challenges of Global Poverty course, I realized I was on the right path to obtaining some answers, and I found out it was part of the MicroMasters program. Once I realized I could continue my master’s studies at MIT, I went all in.
 
Previous work: I have experience as a project officer in the development sector with several organizations such as PSI, PLAN International, and WFP. I also had the chance to work on a World Bank and Haitian government joint project. My last experience was in the banking industry as a project manager.
 
Research interests: Behavioral economics, third parties service providers and market access, and financial inclusion.
 
Plans following the program: Work on designing and implementing data-driven policy solutions and research or consider pursuing a Ph.D.
 

Donald Eastwood
Home country: United Kingdom and Myanmar

Photo of Donald Eastwood

Why did you initially join the MicroMasters program? 
I’ve been working on development interventions in Myanmar since 2014. I found the course because I wanted to measure projects’ effectiveness and efficiency at a higher level. It’s been sometimes exciting, sometimes challenging, often reassuring and very relevant. The course design let me study around work, kids, and several crises in Myanmar in 2020-2021. It pushed me into new areas, and really got me thinking about development issues again.

Previous experience: The company I set up with two others in Myanmar has worked with over 40 development organizations or donors, including the World Bank, UNICEF, UNOPS, IOMx, IDLO, EU, DFiD, USAID, ADB, Save the Children, Oxfam, FHI360 and several ministries in Myanmar.

What are you most excited for at MIT? I’m excited about the quality of the economics department and the teaching staff. There are so many courses I would like to do. It’s been terrific to get back into learning and I look forward to dedicating all my time to it with a similarly interested and motivated bunch of people.

Research interests: Communications and behavior change interventions, early child development, nutrition, mental health, misinformation, transitional justice,  AI and ML.

 

Jabez (Chee Wee) Koh
Home country: Singapore

Photo of Jabez Koh

What are you most excited for at MIT? 
The DEDP program offers a unique opportunity to network with a group of people passionate about development policy, from various nationalities and backgrounds. I am certain that this would broaden my worldview.

Previous experience: During my five years in the policy team of Singapore’s housing board, I implemented a number of housing policies that allowed various buy groups to have greater access to public housing--from low and middle income households to seniors. I also had the opportunity to share Singapore’s housing story with a number of foreign delegates.

Plans following the program: I plan to return to Singapore’s housing board to continue the important mission of providing affordable, quality housing and a great living environment where communities thrive.
 

Sitara Kumbale
Home country: United States and India

Photo of Sitara Kumbale

Why did you initially join the MicroMasters program? 
During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I had just graduated from my bachelor's degree, and  was looking to further my learning in economics and development. I chanced upon the MicroMasters and fell in love with the course content! As someone who is convinced by 'data' and 'evidence', the quantitative, empirical approach to development appealed to me.

Previous work: Most recently I have been working at Instiglio, a results-based financing organization looking to transform the way social and environmental programs are financed. I have also consulted for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Gender Team on various projects around gender sensitive and green recovery from COVID-19.

What are you most excited for at MIT? I'm most excited about the opportunity to interact with and learn from some of the smartest people - whether those are faculty or my peers both in my cohort and otherwise.

Research interests: Women’s empowerment, particularly financial and digital inclusion, the green-gender nexus, and climate and gender sensitive development.

 

Sofía Martínez
Home country: Spain

Photo of Sofia Martinez

Why did you initially join the MicroMasters program? 
I was looking to transition from a career in physics to international development, and I reached out to some people in the sector: at least three of them recommended the MicroMasters courses. I signed up for five courses simultaneously, and even though it was one of the periods I studied the most in my life, I enjoyed every bit of it!

Previous work: I worked as a research engineer in the field of quantum cryptography for a couple of years. Eventually, I traveled to Ghana as a volunteer to deploy IT infrastructure in schools, which led me to shift my career. After that, I worked writing content in an effective altruism non-profit in Spain and also as an analyst improving survey processes through machine learning.

Research interests: Bridging the gap between evidence and implementation in the fields of health, education, women empowerment, migration or conflict.

Plans following the program: My idea is to pursue a program evaluation role in an implementing organization, but I’m also open to explore the different paths the program can bring.

 

Gevorg Minasyan
Home country: Armenia

Photo of Gevorg Minasyan

What are you most excited for at MIT? This is a truly exciting time for me, as mounting interest in data science and development economics is expected to accelerate breakthroughs in the future of policymaking. I hope to leverage the expertise available at MIT and join the global effort in mitigating the gap between “the haves” and “the have-nots”. I’m also excited about networking and making lifelong connections with peers and professional communities.

Previous work: My professional career started in the research department of the Central Bank of Armenia, where I coordinated the evaluation of the bank’s projects on financial issues. Other experiences include the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the Asian Development Bank, where I have worked on taxation, pension reforms, and health insurance.

Research interests: My research interests include but are not limited to development economics, experimental design, and impact evaluation, with more focus on financial education, inclusion, and microcredit.

Plans following the program: I plan to return to Armenia and work on designing and implementing research and data-driven policy solutions, and to design a comprehensive training program for public institutions to build up internal capacities and increase the targeting and effectiveness of public policies.

 

Erich Natsubori Sato
Home country: Brazil

Photo of Erich Natsubori Sato

Why did you initially join the MicroMasters program? 
The final push for me to pursue the MicroMasters was a combination of (1) watching the social downturn caused by the pandemic, (2) inspiration from social projects organized during the pandemic by young scouts (including the Scout group I am part of) and (3) the Poor Economics book by Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee, which had shown that social problems benefit greatly from analytical methods. 

Previous work: I graduated from Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Sao Paulo, worked as a Management Consultant and now I am currently working as a Senior Data Scientist at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) at the Sao Paulo's office. Outside of work, I've been part of the Boy Scouts since I was 9 years old and I am currently a Scout Leader at Grupo Escoteiro Caramuru.

What are you most excited for at MIT? Meeting, taking classes from and working alongside the world class faculty who wrote books that inspired me to look into Economics and learning from colleagues from all around the world. Also very excited to experience the famous MIT's 'learning by doing’ philosophy during the semester!

Research interests: Building education and sustainability projects in Brazil, helping bring the "causal rigor" to data science applications, and in the long term, Edtech focused on amplifying teachers' impact through tools that improve operational effectiveness.

 

Teddy Onserio 
Home country: Kenya

Photo of Teddy Onserio

Why did you initially join the MicroMasters program? 
Having begun a career in impact investing, I was excited to understand how to quantify impact in a scientific way. The online classes made it easy for me to learn while still working. The rigor of the courses and rich knowledge gained made me aspire to complete the entire MicroMasters. 

Previous experience: I started my career on wall street, before pivoting into impact investing and later development finance. My last role was with the US Development Finance Corporation, the US government’s investing arm. I led their deal sourcing, prescreening, and general field presence work in East Africa.

What are you most excited for at MIT? I am excited about learning from world-class professors, classroom discourse on development challenges, and engaging with the wider MIT community.

Research interests: Gender lens investing, access to finance for the banked and underbanked, micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises funding gaps, and the role of remittances for development among others.

Plans following the program: I plan to return to my previous employer and apply my MIT training. I could also consider starting my own business. 

 

Neil Patel
Home country: United States

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Previous work: I currently work as a Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Staff Associate at Tetra Tech, an implementing partner on USAID programs. I also serve on the global leadership committee for UNESCO's Groundwater Youth Network, a body of 800+ youth groundwater activists, researchers, and leaders representing 111 countries.

Research interests: I am interested in applications of economics toward the design of sustainable market systems for the delivery of water and sanitation services, including tariff/subsidy design, demand-side interventions for sanitation services, and access to finance.

 

Bárbara Pitombeira
Home country: Brazil

Photo of Barbara Pitombeira

Why did you initially join the MicroMasters program? 
I made a career shift to work with education and social impact in 2020 and I felt the need to build a more solid background, which led me to start my DEDP MicroMasters. 

Previous work: I worked six years in management consulting and three years in education, with the last two years helping to create and structure a non-profit institute for a Brazilian company focused on educational solutions. 

What are you most excited for at MIT? I look forward to diving deeper into some of the studies made by DEDP faculty and thinking of projects that could be implemented in Brazil. On top of that, I am also excited about the opportunity to learn from the many other students passionate about development from all around the world.

Research interests: I see my career focused on leading educational change in Brazil with a data-driven perspective and innovation foundation.

 

Crystal Qian
Home country: 
United States and China

Photo of Crystal Qian

Why did you initially join the MicroMaster's program?
To more effectively steer my technical work in meaningful directions, I'd like to better understand how decision-makers measure deploy technology and measure impact. Coming from an engineering background, I found the DEDP coursework to be an accessible way to dip my toes into economics and policy.

Research interests: Game theory, behavioral economics, data visualization, tech ethics and policy, applied machine/reinforcement learning

Previous experience: Currently, I focus on building interpretability tools for large language models with the goal of making AI systems more explainable and fair. Before that, I was a research engineer on applied climate projects, using predictive methods to increase the value of renewable energy and applying reinforcement learning to optimize data center energy usage.

 

Celine Wuyts
Home country: Belgium

Photo of Celine Wuyts

Why did you initially join the MicroMasters program? 
When I discovered the Challenges of Global Poverty course, I realized all my different interests (data, economics, behavioral sciences, social impact) actually converged on a common pursuit-- evidence-based development policy. Though I tried to convince myself I should first complete my PhD in survey methodology before seriously embarking on yet another learning endeavor, I simply could not resist the temptation.

Previous work: I am affiliated with the University of Leuven, where I worked on the European Social Survey and on setting up a new survey research infrastructure for the behavioral and social sciences in Belgium. Since last year I've been involved in a research project on gender and STEM education in Rwanda, in collaboration with VVOB – Education for Development, and the Rwandan Association for Women in Science and Engineering.

What are you most excited about at MIT? I cannot wait to dive into thinking hard about complex problems, and to be surrounded by people who’re doing the same, but bringing different life experiences and expertise.

Research interests: Behavioral economics, gender gaps, social norms and networks, digital and financial inclusion, and survey methodology and data quality
 

Kumar Abhinav

Faris AlWohaibi

Yann Bourgeois

Mohamed El Habib Chenguiti Ansari

Chun Man Chow

Amschel de Rothschild

Tomas Dulka

Chuka Ezeoguine

Tom Harris

Massimiliano Hasan

Rodolfo Ilizaliturri Lopez

Mikey Jarrell

Shahzor Khan

Angelo Kisil Marino

Laura Lahoz Gonzalez

Nathan Lazarus

Chengwei Lee

Luis Lopez de Rivera Munoz

Leonardo Mendes

Farhad Panahov

Emily Porter

Anjaly Poruthoor

Eder Redondo Santos

Cyrus Reginald

Max Resnick

Ilias Suvanov

Marc G Tan

Marcela Ulloa Zuluaga

Michael van Niekerk

Anna Vdovina

Linxi Wang

Pavarin Bhandtivej

Raul Castro Corona

Juan Carlos Cisneros

Megan Farrell

Jannis Hamida

Sui Yuan Han

Wonjae Lee

Adrienne Luczkow

Devin Mauney

Andres Parrado

Adrien Rose

Ashley Vicary

John  Walker

Nouf Abushehab

Akshay Choudhary

Adetoun Dapo-Famodu

Ritesh Das

Brian Daza Vigo

Isadora Frankenthal

Max Ghenis

Zuo Min (James) Goh

Harsh Goyal

Junita Henry

Frank Hoekman

Zhe Fredric Kong

Helena Lima

Wei Lu

Lovemore Mawere

Mauricio Mondragon Delgado

Jingkai Ong

Bernardo Oseguera Zapata

Jose Pinilla

Gailius Praninskas

Alexandria Symonds

Manil Zenaki