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2023–2024 Academic Year Part-Time Undergraduate RFs

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Housing Upgrades for Health in Rural Bangladesh

The RA will contribute to the CRADLE trial (Cement flooRs AnD chiLd hEalth), which will measure the effects of upgrading soil household floors with concrete on maternal and child health in rural Bangladesh. Study endpoints include child diarrhea and soil-transmitted helminth infection and environmental contamination with enteric pathogens. Our team is composed of experts in environmental and infectious disease epidemiology, including Bangladeshi scientists. This trial will determine whether concrete floors reduce enteric infection, and investigate mechanisms for how floors impact health, or if they do not, why. Household concrete floors are an innovative potential health intervention that may have additional benefits that we will measure in this study, including reducing the bandwidth tax that low-income families experience by making it easier to maintain a hygienic home environment, and in turn, improve quality of life. Our findings will provide rigorous, policy-relevant evidence about whether concrete flooring installation should be delivered as a public health intervention to reduce child enteric infection.

Research mentor: Jade Benjamin-Chung, Epidemiology and Population Health
Research fellow: Gabby Barratt Heitmann, ‘24, Earth Systems


Gender, Identity, and Economic Advancement in the Arab Gulf States

With the prospect of declining demand for oil and a need to diversify domestic economies, states of the Arab Gulf have introduced “national vision” plans that seek to provide a strategic framework for economic development over the coming decades. This project seeks to understand the incorporation of women, religious minorities, migrants, and individuals with precarious citizenship status into Arab Gulf economies, both past and present.

Research mentor: Lisa Blaydes, Political Science Department
Research fellow: Kohi Kalandarova, ‘24, Computer Science


Education Reform and Sustainable Development

Education sits at the core of the global development agenda. Schooling is often believed to be a tool for enhancing individuals’ lives and attaining greater economic and social goals. However, school systems have been facing persistent challenges of inequality, as well as new crises arising from a global pandemic, natural disasters, and conflict/wars among countries. To tackle these problems in education, governments engage in an array of reforms. While existing studies have assessed the effectiveness of education reforms in particular country contexts and periods, our research project takes a comparative and sociological approach to studying what types of reforms occur, where, and why, and what effects they have on education and society. To answer these research questions, the World Education Reform Database (WERD) team has built a database of over 12,000 education reforms from 189 countries and territories, mostly between 1960 and 2020. Reforms in WERD capture publicly stated goals about how governments should enact changes in education systems around the world, thus focusing on a discursive dimension that sheds light on beliefs about the role of education in society.

Research mentor: Patricia Bromley, Graduate School of Education, Social Sciences, Humanities and Interdisciplinary Policy Studies in Education (SHIPS)
Research fellow: Arabella Mensah, ‘26, Human Biology


Restorative Justice and Judicial Reform in Southeast Asia

Restorative justice is being widely implemented in a variety of ways to address a variety of problems in criminal justice reform. The issues that are prioritized and addressed in different ways in different systems include: providing an alternative justice track for minors outside of the prison system; victims' rights and community reconciliation; rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders; decriminalization of drug offenses; and prison overcrowding. In Southeast Asia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Singapore are both considering significant reforms to implement restorative justice approaches, though with different focal points and inflections in each country. Restorative justice and victim/community-oriented programs have also become increasingly important in the United States. This project will involve in-depth research into the evolution and implementation of restorative justice programs in these 3 SE Asian countries. I have been meeting with key justice sector and governmental institutions in these countries and they are seeking input through comparative research. They are also interested in how restorative justice is defined and used in criminal justice systems in the US, UK, and Germany. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Indonesia will be leading a group of justices to Stanford in early March 2024 for a workshop on these issues that our Center will organize. This engagement with the Supreme Court has also created an opportunity for up to 2 Stanford students to serve as summer interns In the Indonesian Supreme Court Reform Team Office beginning in June 2024. The goal of this project is to provide stakeholders with an evidence-based analysis of key issues in restorative justice to inform their ongoing deliberations. The student RA will be engaged in research and will also have the opportunity to meet the Supreme Court delegation, participate in the workshop, and consider applying for the summer internship.

Research mentor: David Cohen, Classics Department
Research fellow: Jessica Lee, Co-term (undergrad), Political Science, Kaylee Shen, ‘25, Earth Systems, Megan Woo, ‘26, Undeclared


Emollient Therapy for Improved Skin Barrier Function, Growth, Microbiome Diversity, and Survival of Very Low Birth Weight Infants in Zimbabwe and Uganda

Up to 30% of neonatal deaths occur in very low birthweight [VLBW, <1500 grams (g)] infants who have a poorly developed and dysfunctional skin barrier, which puts them at risk for loss of water and heat and penetration of pathogens into the bloodstream through the skin, leading to poor growth and mortality. Mortality among VLBW infants is 50% at Zimbabwe’s top public neonatal care unit at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital, and 25% at Mbala Regional Referral Hospital in Uganda, which are representative of sub-Saharan Africa. Oil massage of newborns is a widespread practice throughout Africa, Asia and the Mediterranean region, but studies of locally available products and oils routinely applied to newborn infants in high-mortality regions show harmful effects. In LMICs, emollient therapy with high-linoleate sunflower seed oil (SSO) in VLBW infants has been shown to improve skin barrier function, reduce the risk for bloodstream proven infections, and enhance growth during the neonatal period. Data on the impact of emollient therapy on neonatal mortality is limited – especially from Africa – but suggestive of a 25% reduction. A challenge with using locally produced oils is that they typically lack quality controls and therefore may have unpredictable effects and may even be harmful.  Therefore, in collaboration with investigators at UCSF, Dr. Darmstadt has produced a quality-assured, inexpensive, multi-component product that has superior efficacy to other emollients available commercially.

Research mentor: Gary Darmstadt, Pediatrics Department
Research fellow: Yuechen Wu, ‘25, Management Science and Engineering
 


Productivity and Allocation of Healthcare Workers' Across a Country's Health Facilities

Health

A first project is with her and colleagues in Accra and Oxford on a project on health service delivery in Ghana’s public healthcare system. The research seeks to measure the productivity of 100,000 health workers across over 9,000 health facilities around Ghana. It also aims to improve the matching of health workers to health facilities. The project draws on a unique combination of administrative datasets on facility-level health service delivery, health personnel, and financial resources, and is being carried out in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service.A second set of projects will comprise an online-based lab experiment on eliciting preferences for definitions fairness with colleagues at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) and UCLouvain. The tasks for this project will be defined further for the spring quarter.

Research mentor: Binta Zahra Diop, King Center on Global Development
Research fellow: Saanvi Bhati, '27, Undelcared


Refugee Self Reliance and Entrepreneurship Training

Contributing to our research project on training refugees in entrepreneurship skills, we used a randomize control trial (RCT) to investigate the impact of network disruption on entrepreneurs’ business ideation – focused on refugee entrepreneurs in Uganda. We designed a comprehensive 9-week-long Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) tailored to the unique challenges and opportunities faced by this demographic. The MOOC was hosted on a globally recognized platform that specializes in university-level courses, thereby ensuring high-quality delivery and user experience. Developed and executed in partnership with Outbox Uganda, a local technology innovation hub, and various refugee community associations the course provided a controlled environment to study the early phases of entrepreneurial venture formation.

Uganda is one of the largest refugee-hosting nations in Africa, with over 1.4 million refugees as of 2021, and serves as a particularly relevant context for this study for multiple reasons. First, Uganda economically is classified as a lower-middle-income country. The nation grapples with high unemployment, particularly among the youth. This lack of wage employment opportunities often leaves refugees with no option but to engage in entrepreneurial activities, regardless of their background and expertise. Second, Uganda's relatively open policy towards refugees grants them the right to work, freedom of movement, and access to social services, which enabled them to engage in entrepreneurship and the host economy. Therefore, Uganda offers “a relatively positive environment for refugee innovation” (Betts, Bloom, & Weaver, 2015), and the country's unique socio-economic landscape and the relatively liberal policy toward refugees makes it a fertile ground for studying refugee entrepreneurship.

Research mentor: Chuck Eesley, Management Science & Engineering Department
Research fellow: Faith Zehfuss, ‘26, International Relations (Autumn '23); Mu Hsi, '26, International Relations (Winter '24) 


Health and Education Providers in Low-Income Asia in Comparative Perspective

To build resilient health and education systems that serve the most vulnerable in low- and middle-income countries, we need to understand the current ecosystem of providers and how households choose among them. In this project, we study the healthcare-seeking behavior and educational enrollment of poor and vulnerable populations, and the ecosystem of providers (schools, clinics, hospitals, pharmacies, nursing homes) serving low-wealth households compared to medium- to high-wealth households in the same country or region or in neighboring health systems. The student will assist with the analysis of household survey data from low- and middle-income countries (e.g. Demographic and Health Surveys, India Human Development Survey) and administrative data for LMIC and high-income comparison countries, with a focus on Asia. We especially welcome students with interests in South, Southeast, and East Asia, with related language expertise, and those with experience in data curation and analysis using the High-Performance Computing cluster (e.g. Sherlock), geospatial modeling, and computer science, to assist with designing a data sharing platform to make the resulting datasets available to other researchers. For highly motivated students, there are opportunities for co-authorship on sub-projects within the broader project, in conjunction with postdoc & graduate student collaborators.

Research mentor: Karen Eggleston, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI)
Research fellow: Erik Bradley, ‘25, Political Science (Autumn '23); Ivan Avannus Jacob Jimbangan, ‘25, Economics (Winter '24)


Extracting Insights for Political Economy Research Using Advanced AI Methods

The project aims to employ advanced Natural Language Processing techniques in investigating dynamics and themes of German police reporting on crimes. The second research project with co-author from Essex and Emory aims to employ a large dataset from Colombia to explore themes on the topic of money in politics, examining the interplay of campaign donations and contracting.

Research mentor: Ashrakat Elshehawy, King Center on Global Development
Research fellow: Sheryl Chen, '27, Computer Science

 


Assessing Lead Leachate from Cookware in Bangladesh

Environment and Climate Change

Lead is a potential neurotoxin and poses a serious threat to public health and human intellectual capital worldwide. While no levels of lead exposure are considered safe for humans, lead is particularly detrimental to children during the developmental period of their central nervous systems. Our past research in various countries worldwide has identified a need for a better understanding of exposure to suspected lead sources. Cookware is an overlooked source of lead exposure. An ongoing study in Dhaka, Bangladesh indicates that more than 98% of children’s blood lead levels exceeded the CDC threshold of concern, and 90% of the households’ metal cookware contained lead, with a median lead level of 360 ppm (unpublished data). The aim of this project is to conduct a controlled experiment to understand what factors are causing lead to differentially leach from cookware into food.

Research mentor: Jenna Forsyth, Medicine
Research fellow: Raphael Kim, ‘26, Bioengineering (Autumn '23); Alison Fajardo, ‘26, Chemical Engineering (Winter '24)


Improving Field-Appropriate Lead Detection Methods for Environmental Samples

Lead is a potential neurotoxin and poses a serious threat to public health and human intellectual capital worldwide. While no levels of lead exposure are considered safe for humans, lead is particularly detrimental to children during the developmental period of their central nervous systems. Our past research in various countries worldwide has identified a need for field-appropriate rapid lead detection methods for environmental samples.A primary objective of this project is to improve lead detection for paint, a known source of lead exposure in many parts of the world. Lead is currently unregulated in paints in 55% of countries globally. The current gold standard approach relies on complex laboratory analyses which are not practical for low-resource settings. In collaboration with a non-profit organization, we have acquired 211 household paint samples manufactured from 20 countries containing a range of Pb concentrations.

Research mentor: Jenna Forsyth, Geological Sciences Department
Research fellow: Lyanne Pineda, ‘24, Human Biology


Compounding Impacts of Climate and Land-Use Change on Leptospirosis Incidence in Peru’s Amazon Basin

Leptospirosis is a debilitating disease of poverty caused by the bacteria genus Leptospira, affecting both humans and animals. Transmitted through contact either with the urine of infected animals or, more often, a urine-contaminated environment, leptospirosis transmission is hypothesized to be affected by environmental conditions, such as flooding, urbanization, and agriculture. However, environmental drivers of leptospirosis remain an understudied area, and many hypothesized relationships are currently debated in the literature, such as whether rural or urban areas are more at risk for leptospirosis transmission. The Madre de Dios region of Peru is an ideal case study to investigate the relationships between climate change, land-use change, and leptospirosis dynamics, given its high biodiversity, rapid urbanization, agricultural development, and history of leptospirosis transmission. Through an established partnership with Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH) and the Regional Health Directorate of Madre de Dios (DIRESA, in Spanish), this study will investigate how much land-use intensification interacts with precipitation and temperature changes to drive leptospirosis disease transmission in Peru.

Research mentor: Caroline Glidden, Biology Department 
Research fellow: Raina Talwar Bhatia, ‘25, Bioengineering


Projecting Dengue Burden in Cambodia Under Changing Climate Change Scenarios

Dengue Virus (DENV) is a flavivirus transmitted by the mosquito, Aedes aegypti. Symptoms of dengue-related diseases such as Dengue Fever and Dengue Shock Syndrome include febrile illness, joint pain, plasma leakage, and death. While DENV poses a threat worldwide, most cases are concentrated in the tropics, with the regions of greatest risk in the Americas and Asia. Within Asia, Cambodia experiences one of the greatest burdens of DENV, disproportionately impacting young children. Because DENV cases are dependent on mosquito population competence, understanding DENV transmission dynamics under climate change is important for predicting the magnitude of the DENV burden in the future. This project seeks to address these concerns by creating future projections of the Dengue burden in Cambodia under varying climate change scenarios. By using remotely sensed climate data and information on Dengue transmission patterns unique to Cambodia, this work will use mechanistic modeling and machine learning frameworks to better understand the impacts of climate change on mosquito-borne infectious disease transmission in low-income settings. We are seeking a student researcher who is interested in studying the intersections of climate change and infectious disease dynamics and is passionate about designing computational research that can help optimize real-world solutions.

Research mentor: Caroline Glidden, Biology Department
Research fellow: Dylan Loth, ‘25, Biology


Political Equality

Political inequality in capitalist democracies is a distinctive type of inequality. It cannot be simply reduced to the factors that routinely go into thinking about social, economic and power inequality. Its currency is performative as well as distributive.  Even though the study of political inequality does, to a significant degree, concern the allocation of resources required to exercise power, political equality is also an effect of the nature and quality of social relations. This requires us to complement the distributional approach with an emphasis on political equality as being relational and processual. Students will develop short case studies to illustrate effective processes and practices for achieving political equality and overcoming obstacles.

Research mentor: Margaret Levi, Political Science Department
Research fellow: Rohan Chowdhury, ‘26, Political Science


Predicting Cutaneous Leishmaniasis in Brazil’s Changing Forests

Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) causes a substantial disease burden in tropical and subtropical regions and incidence is increasing worldwide. In this project, we aim to examine the association between changes in forest cover and the occurrence of CL in Brazil between 2001 to 2018. While Brazil has experienced widespread deforestation and major changes to land use in recent decades, there have also been concerted efforts to restore forests. Such reforestation activities potentially increase human interactions with forest edges, influencing forest-associated vector-borne diseases like CL. We will apply a random forest model, taking into account multiple covariates such as human population density, temperature, precipitation, and land use while accounting for spatial and temporal variability. We will test sensitivity to a spatial extent, potentially subsetting our analysis to the Amazon due to CL’s prevalence in forest areas. We predict that reforestation increases CL occurrence since forests provide breeding habitats for sandfly vectors and CL is sylvatic and associated with forest edges. This research will provide valuable insights into the potentially complex relationship between forest management and the transmission of CL.

Research mentor: Kelsey Lyberger, Biology Department
Research fellow: Alexandra Lee, ‘25, Biology


Digital Case Management for Post-Rescue Human Trafficking Survivor Services

Health

The student will support the team working on an ongoing project to implement a digital case management system for survivors of labor trafficking in Maranhao Brazil. The project seeks to improve the post-trafficking flow of services to survivors of labor trafficking identified in Maranhao. Currently, survivors are referred to local caseworkers through a lengthy paperwork-based administrative process, leading to long delays in post-trafficking service initiation, inconsistent needs assessment and poor follow-up capacity. The project implements a new digital case management system that standardizes and improves the process of conducting a needs assessment, provides referral resources, and facilitates 6-month follow-up for long-term survivor support. The project is conducted in partnership with frontline providers and the State Secretariat for Human Rights of Maranhao.

Research mentor: Grant Miller, Health Policy 
Research fellow: Sofia Penglase, ‘25, Public Policy


Immigration Policy as Development Policy

Trade and Migration

The project examines the effects of guest worker programs on the economic well-being of H2-A workers and their families. The H2-A program, aimed at hiring foreign agricultural workers temporarily to address labor shortages, has been active since the 1950s. This project is the first randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the H-2A program, focusing on migrants between Mexico and the US. Surveys will be collected from workers before, during, and after their US employment, along with input from household members, to gauge material well-being, wages, working conditions, and overall experiences. Partnerships with organizations like REDDES in Mexico and WAFLA in the US help inform the design and policy relevance of the project. The study's outcomes could inform policy decisions, broaden the guest worker program's scope, and enhance working conditions for participants, with the potential to influence similar initiatives globally.

Research mentor: Melanie Morten, Economics Department
Research fellow: Lizbeth Hernandez, ‘25, Political Science


Keeping Women Working: Strategies to Reinforce Women's Retention in the Indian Labor Force

Female labor force participation in India has been declining for several years, but few researchers have analyzed the barriers faced by women who have already entered the labor force. Our data shows that many women who enter the workforce, particularly those who migrate for work opportunities, drop out within a year. Why do Indian women drop out of the labor force, and how can we support women’s labor force retention? This project will analyze large-scale data provided by several labor matching organizations in India to understand patterns of women’s labor force retention in India. Undergraduate research assistants will help with the preparation and analysis of these large-scale administrative data, helping to isolate patterns in women’s labor drop-out and correlates of women’s labor retention. 

Research mentor: Soledad Prillaman, Political Science Department
Research fellow: Junah Jang, ‘25,  Public Policy


Internationalization of Higher Education in the Global Knowledge Society

With the rise of the global knowledge economy and the prevalent development models that heavily rely on knowledge and personnel produced by higher education, universities have assumed a pivotal role in today’s globalized society. Relatedly, internationalization has become an essential activity and agenda of many universities around the world since the late 20th century. This phenomenon isn't limited to universities in advanced countries; those in developing countries have also actively engaged in this process, partly to lead national development and enhance their visibility and competitiveness in the global society. However, the actual implementation of internationalization can vary across different contexts. Some universities and countries might focus more on the exchange of personnel or curriculum modifications, while others place greater emphasis on promoting international scholarly cooperation and global citizenship. These variations may stem from available resources, sociopolitical backgrounds, or the overarching goals of internationalization for each country and university. Existing research has examined the definition of and rationales for internationalization quite thoroughly, but few studies delve into the content of internationalization that is being conducted in universities worldwide. We aim to fill this gap by collecting data and analyzing internationalization efforts taking place in a sample of 500 universities worldwide. 

Research mentor: Francisco Ramirez, Social Sciences, Humanities and Interdisciplinary Policy Studies in Education (SHIPS)
Research fellow: Gabriela Reitz, ‘25, International Relations


Low-Cost & Open-Source X-ray Technologies

Innovations in Methods and Data

There is a strong global need for affordable X-ray technologies. Estimates show that the majority of the global population lacks meaningful access to medical X-ray imaging. As an example, chest radiography has very high sensitivity (>90%) for detecting active tuberculosis and is thus endorsed by the WHO as an excellent screening tool. However, high equipment cost($50k-90k for a portable system) is a major barrier to democratizing access to radiography. Furthermore, there are major issues with the maintenance of clinical X-ray equipment which often require expensive service contracts. A large fraction of X-ray equipment in developing countries originates from donations from high-income countries. As these donations typically do not include installation and service contracts, they often end up never functioning as intended. Motivated by the above, we are actively thinking about strategies to develop low-cost X-ray technologies based on open-source principles to enable sustainable manufacturing and maintenance by local communities. These technologies include X-ray sources and detectors as well as radiation survey meters and personal dosimeters. We have started a long-term collaboration with clinicians and engineers in Nairobi, Kenya where we aim to evaluate prototypes developed at Stanford.

Research mentor: Kian Shaker, Radiology Department
Research fellow: Alice Ku, ‘25, Engineering Physics


Multiple Projects Studying Issues Related to Gender in Developing Countries in Particular Sexual Harassment

We study the long-run effects of sexual harassment awareness training programs on the actual incidence of sexual harassment in educational institutions in New Delhi. Our team has just finished undertaking the long-run surveys approximately 2 to 3 years after the intervention. The newer projects are at a very early stage and thus require more hands-on work assistance. One project is trying to understand whether there is any scope for collaborating with actual dating apps in Pakistan or India to help train women in choosing potentially good matches for themselves. This project requires a literature review and also finding out about companies that can be potential collaborators. The other project involves studying the effects of a survey experiment with firms in understanding the implementation of prevention of sexual harassment acts. The project is still at the data collection stage and requires monitoring and data quality checks.

Research mentor: Karmini Sharma, King Center on Global Development
Research fellow: Qixuan Wang, Co-term (undergrad), Lamya Butt, ‘26, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


Metabolomic Profiling of Pregnancy Outcomes from Cohorts in Zimbabwe, Kenya and Bangladesh

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 800 women worldwide die from pregnancy-related causes every day; 86% of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia. One of the main causes is a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy – preeclampsia. The largest cause of under-five child mortality worldwide is preterm birth (birth before 37 weeks of gestation), with its highest rates in sub-Saharan Africa. Prematurity is a main risk factor for neonatal mortality and infant outcomes such as sepsis, necrotizing enterocolitis, and neurodevelopmental delay. Most of the maternal and infant deaths could be prevented by closer monitoring of pregnancies, identifying pregnancies and infants at risk, and timely interventions. However, in the most affected settings, antenatal care is limited due to poor quality of care and poverty inhibiting access to medical care. Developing accurate prediction models of gestational age, and risk for preterm birth and preeclampsia early in pregnancy could lead to simple diagnostic tests to estimate gestational age, identify women at risk, and from there guide prenatal and newborn care and therapeutic interventions. The goal of this project is to develop such prediction models focusing on low-resource settings in Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Bangladesh. Our hypothesis is that by measuring a small number of metabolites in maternal blood obtained at the time of routine antenatal blood collection, we can accurately predict these risks. To develop prediction models, we collected maternal and neonatal blood samples from pregnant women (at 20-24 weeks of pregnancy) and their infants (at birth) from 338 mothers and their infants in Zimbabwe, 541 in Kenya, and 519 in Bangladesh. Using untargeted liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry, we measured thousands of metabolites in each sample. We will perform machine learning analyses of these data to systematically identify, among thousands of metabolites, a small subset (≤10) of metabolites that accurately predict the gestational age, and risks for preterm birth, preeclampsia, and neurodevelopmental delay of infants. If successful, these results could lead to simple, low-cost, point-of-care diagnostic tests to estimate gestational age, identify women at risk, and guide prenatal and newborn care as well as therapeutic interventions.

Research mentor: David Stevenson, Pediatrics Department
Research fellow: Khusbu Khatri Adhikari, ‘25, Computer Science


Prejudice Reduction at Scale: How Institutional Inclusion Reduces Social Exclusion

Government and Institutions

Prejudice, conceptualized as "an antipathy based on a faulty and inflexible generalization" (Allport 1954), is a major cause of discrimination and an impediment to intergroup cooperation around the world. In my book manuscript, titled Prejudice Reduction at Scale, I explain why improving intergroup relations in conflict-ridden societies is hard and how minority institutional inclusion can reduce social exclusion. I argue that reducing prejudice is difficult because exclusionary preferences are durable, and they encourage people to avoid experiences conducive to prejudice reduction. Developing a theory of prejudice reduction through public institutions, I argue that minority inclusion in public institutions---such as schools or hospitals---can reduce prejudice at scale because it overcomes the challenges of prejudice durability and intergroup avoidance. Specifically, inclusionary institutions facilitate various forms of exposure to minority service providers. This exposure violates commonly stated conditions for effective intergroup contact relating to equal status prolonged interactions. Nonetheless, it is helpful in reducing prejudice because it allows majority group members to engage with professionalized, high-status, respected outgroups. Importantly, since institutions provide essential services, they help overcome the challenge of avoidance and facilitate effective exposure to outgroups among a broad range of citizens who would otherwise refrain from intergroup interactions but are in need of essential services. 

Research mentor: Chagai Weiss, King Center on Global Development
Research fellow: Madhuvanti Gia Mukherjee, ‘26, Public Policy


Tropical Peatland Carbon Dynamics

Environment and Climate Change

Tropical peatlands are the world’s most carbon-dense ecosystems and must be protected from human disturbances to prevent the exacerbation of climate change. However, our understanding of how much carbon tropical peatlands store and where and how peats are able to form over thousands of years remains limited. It is important to understand the magnitude of tropical peatland carbon storage at different spatial scales and how it relates to environmental conditions, especially hydrology, in order to inform peatland conservation planning.

Research mentor: Robert Scott Winton, Earth System Science
Research fellow:


Informal/Illegal Agriculture Trade in Sub-Saharan Africa

The project focuses on shedding light on informal/illegal agriculture trade flows (trade that is not recorded in official trade statistics, going through unofficial border crossings), the agriculture marketplaces, and how value chains affect food availability and security in the area. The project also focuses on bargaining interactions and corruption at the borders. The project is located in East Africa.

Research mentor: Eleanor Wiseman, King Center on Global Development
Research fellow:  Berta Puig Gonzalez '24, HumBio


Three Centuries of International Capital Flows

This project, joint with Antonio Coppola at Stanford GSB, aims to create new measures of international capital flows from the 1700s onwards. We rely on several historical sources that we are systematically digitizing using novel computer vision techniques such that the entire data creation process will be fully automated. With these data, we will shed light on previously unseen international financial market integration in the 18th-20th centuries, particularly during periods that were previously thought to have witnessed a full collapse in international capital, as well as among countries that have generally been understudied, such as those in Latin America and Africa.

Research mentor: Chenzi Xu, Graduate School of Business, Finance
Research fellow: Garry Pipenbrock, ‘26, Economics


Bureaucratic Mobility and Economic Development

What are the forces that have fueled the rapid economic development in China in the past four decades? Some attribute the success story to the top officials who govern the administrative levels of the localities, dispatched by the Chinese state through a top-down process. Others emphasize the important role of local elites, especially those local officials who live and work in the same locality for an extended period of time, many spent their entire work career in one locality. In this research project, we aim to resolve this research question by collecting data on both economic indicators and official career information and analyze how different types of officials, characteristic of distinct career trajectories and affiliation with these localities, affect economic development and social welfare there. We will construct a longitudinal dataset with rich information on socioeconomic indicators at different localities (counties, prefectures, and selected provinces) so that we can examine and compare changes in the association between elite mobility and economic development (and social welfare) across regions and over time in China.

Research mentor: Xueguang Zhou, Sociology Department
Research fellow: Nancy Chu, Co-term (undergrad), East Asian Studies