Research Assistants

Current Research Assistants

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Ashley Aue is an MPP student at the Harris School of Public Policy. She holds a BA in Psychology from Grand Valley State University. Ashley has spent a number of years working in public and non-profit services in the U.S. and in Guatemala, in areas ranging from education to healthcare to disabilities. In 2015 she founded Abriendo Caminos, a Guatemala-based non-profit aimed at providing increased opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities, and she continues to serve on the board of this organization. She is interested in international relations and development, and expects to graduate in 2019. 


Daniela Bergmann is an MPP student at the Harris School of Public Policy. She holds a B.A. in Economics from Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. Before coming to The University of Chicago, Daniela worked at the Central Bank of Mexico in the planning and execution of Mexico’s foreign exchange rate policy. Also, she has experience in competition policy, economic regulation, and microenterprise development. Daniela is interested in social and economic development, especially in migration and poverty.

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Edgar Braham is an MPP candidate at the Harris School of Public Policy. He is originally from Saltillo, a city in northern Mexico. Before joining the BIP Lab, Edgar worked in a public policy consultancy in Mexico City where he focused on infrastructure and competitiveness policy. He also served as Executive Vicepresident at Fundación Colosio, a major political party’s think tank in Mexico, where he collaborated in the recent reforms negotiation process. He is most interested in the returns of Education and in competiveness policy and innovation. He earned his B.A. in Economics from the Instituto Tecnológico Auntónomo de México.

Mariam_0_0.JPG Ri Desta is a student in the College majoring in Comparative Human Development. She grew up in La Vergne, Tennessee. Her interests lie in childhood and adolescent development, and she hopes to one day pursue her Masters in Social Work. In her free time, Ri pours much of her energy into her acapella group, Unaccompanied Women, and University Theatre. She is expected to graduate in 2019.
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Nayila Duarte received her B.S. in Economics at the National University of Asunción, Paraguay. She holds a Specialist Certificate in Project Management and Development from the Getúlio Vargas Foundation. Before coming to Chicago, she served as a volunteer for Rotary International, where she designed and led projects aimed to improve disadvantaged children’s educational outcomes. She is interested in early childhood development, specially on how to prevent toxic stress response from damaging children's cognitive and emotional abilities.

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Sierra Espinosa is a third year undergraduate majoring in Public Policy. She has a strong interest in the effects of economic conditions on childhood development and education after studying in Barcelona this past spring. Outside of the lab, Sierra is a mentor for Women & Youth Supporting Each Other and is an active member of her sorority. She loves being involved in the greater Chicago community and hopes to apply the tools of behavioral intervention used in the private industry to areas of Chicago in the future. Sierra expects to graduate in 2019.


Estefanía Garavito Jiménez is an MPP student at the Harris School of Public Policy. She holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia where she grew up. Before joining the BIP lab as a research assistant, Estefanía worked as consultant in the Financial and Commodities Risk Consulting Division at Management Solutions. She is interested in development economics and poverty alleviation policy. Outside of the lab, she is a foodie, loves running and traveling. Estefanía expects to graduate in 2019.


Ausannette Garcia-Goyette is pursuing her MPP at the Harris School of Public Policy. Prior to joining the BIP Lab, Ausannette served as a Peace Corps China Volunteer (2012-2014), and most recently, was the Associate Director of Outreach and Engagement at OneSky, a NGO training caregivers to provide nurturing care and early education for orphaned and neglected children. Inspired by research on early childhood development and the Two Generation Approach (2Gen), Ausannette is exploring the potential for evidence-based policy to improve the lives of vulnerable children and families. Ausannette is a Texas-native with a sweet tooth who enjoys rock climbing and exploring the city. She holds a Bachelors degree from the University of Texas at Austin.


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Daniela Gomez is an MPP student at the Harris School of Public Policy. She has a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Political Science from Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas,  CIDE  in  Mexico.  Before joining the BIP Lab, Daniela worked as an advisor  for Mexico’s federal government. She has a strong interest in transit migration, particularly to the United States, which was the main topic of her undergraduate thesis. At this moment, she is also interested in energy and environmental policies as well as development and innovation. Daniela expects to graduate in 2018.

Nicolás de la Maza Greene is an MPP student at the Harris School of Public Policy. He holds a Licentiate in Engineering Sciences from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Before joining the BIP lab as a research assistant, Nicolás worked as Business Development Analyst at AFP Habitat, a pension fund manager company in Chile. He is interested in poverty alleviation and labor, retirement and family policies. Nicolás expects to graduate in 2019.

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Luis Gonzales-Carrasco is an MPP student at the Harris School of Public Policy at The University of Chicago. He is an Economist from Chuquiago-Bolivia. He holds a Msc. in Applied Macroeconomics from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Before joining the BIP lab as a research assistant, Luis worked as a Senior Economist at Centro Latinoamerícano de Políticas Económicas y Sociales (ClapesUC). He is interested in Sustainable Development and Economic Growth. Luis expects to graduate in 2019.

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Ana Dora Gonzalez Guerra is an MPP student at the Harris School of Public Policy and earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Public Management. Originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, she has been dedicated to foster prosperity for poor communities through local development projects. Before joining the BIP Lab she worked as Ecosystem Coordinator and Chief of Culture at a social enterprise that encourages inclusive economic development with a gender perspective. She has specialized in strategic thinking for economic inclusion projects and seeks to reduce poverty and inequality through generating employment or self-employment opportunities for low-income women. Ana Dora expects to graduate in 2019. 

Shanika Gunaratna is an MPP candidate at the Harris School of Public Policy. She is interested in designing, evaluating and expanding programs for poverty alleviation, particularly focusing on children. Before joining the BIP Lab, Shanika worked in journalism: her prior roles include digital reporter at CBS News and associate producer on the PBS program “Chicago Tonight,” where she reported on education, crime and poverty. She earned her BA in journalism and international studies at Northwestern University.


Laurel Harnett is an MPP student at the Harris School of Public Policy. Laurel grew up in Frankfort, Illinois and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois. Before joining the BIP Lab, Laurel was a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Will County and advocated on behalf of neglected and abused children in the juvenile court system. She plans to use this experience as a stepping-stone towards creating change for children and families on a broader platform. Laurel plans to graduate in 2019. 


Tere Islas is a first-year student at Brown University pursuing a BA in Public Policy with a focus on Education. She grew up in the Northside of Chicago and enjoys the diversity of the city. Tere is interested in learning about education policies that directly affect low-income communities. She wants to have a better understanding of the root of the obstacles underrepresented students in Chicago face. At Brown University she is a scholar in the Presidential Scholars Program, where she learns what research entails and the skills necessary for successful studies. Outside of the BIP Lab, Tere enjoys biking on the 606 trail as well as being involved in her community through numerous non-profit organizations, such as the Swearer Center in Providence, RI. She plans to graduate in 2021.

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Anita Joshi is a first year MPP student at the Harris School of Public Policy. Anita is originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma and received her BSFS in International Economics from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. Before joining the BIP Lab, she worked as a research assistant in the Georgetown African Studies department examining behavioral phenomena in SME loan acquisition. She is particularly interested in behavioral applications in social policy. 


Emma Kulick received her B.A. in Romance Languages and Literatures from the University of Chicago in 2017 and is excited to be working on the BIP Lab’s M-PACT Project as a research assistant. Her interests include population health, behavioral health, and early childhood development, and she plans to pursue in a career in medicine and public health. Emma is originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 


Taylor Leighton is an undergraduate from Minneapolis, Minnesota studying public policy and psychology. He is interested in the intersection of psychological research and policy, which the BIP Lab's work centers on. In addition to work at the BIP Lab, Taylor also is active in Model UN organizations and the UChicago Undergraduate Law Magazine. Off campus, he enjoys exploring the Chicago food scene. Consequently, he has developed a passion for running to burn off the calories. Taylor expects to graduate in 2019.    




Elaine Li is an MPP candidate and Pearson Fellow at the Harris School of Public Policy. She is a New Yorker at heart, but a southern accent (courtesy of her high school years in Atlanta) will occasionally reveal itself. She has a degree from Georgetown University in International Politics and Asian Studies. Before joining the BIP Lab, she worked as an education consultant in Shenzhen, China, where she mentored youths. Elaine is interested in bridging behavioral economics with education policy and international development. Elaine expects to graduate in 2019.      


Amanda Magana is an undergraduate student at the University of Dubuque studying Chemistry on a Pre-Med track. She grew up on the Northside of Chicago and is interested in learning more about child development and the social factors that can affect that. Her goal is to one day use all of the information learned about children to become a well-rounded pediatric doctor. Outside of the BIP Lab, she enjoys spending time in the pool, swimming and playing water polo, and especially spending time with her family. She plans to graduate with her undergraduate degree in 2019.


Eric Millichamp is a second-year student at the University's School of Social Service Administration. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Economics from Lake Forest College. He is children's educational attainment and decreasing the achievement gap. He expects to graduate in 2018.

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Bruno Osorio is a Master in Public Policy Candidate and Co-Executive Director of the Inter-Policy School Summit at the Harris School of Public Policy. He was awarded the Fulbright Scholarship and the Hank Paulson Fellowship for his graduate studies. He previously worked as Chief of Staff of the Directorate General for the Mesoamerican Integration and Development Project at the Mexican Foreign Ministry, where he collabotared in the management of regional development cooperation projects. He is editor of the Youth Program Magazine of the Mexican Council on Foreign Affairs (COMEXI) and writer of the Spanish section at Chicago Policy Review. Bruno studied international relations at El Colegio de Mexico in Mexico City and he did an academic exchange in Sciences Po Paris.

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Lina Pedraza is an MPP student at the Harris School of Public Policy, and earned a B.S. degree in Economics from the Universidad del Rosario in Colombia. Before joining the BIP Lab, Lina worked on program evaluation for the National Planning Department in Colombia. She is particularly interested in social and economic development in developing countries and education policy. Lina expects to graduate in 2018. 


Anais Rosenblatt is a third year in the College, majoring in Political Science. She has worked at the National Partnership for New Americans advocating for immigrant rights, and she will spend the summer of 2017 working in the City of Chicago Office of the City Clerk. She is also President of the University of Chicago Democrats. She is originally from Boca Raton, Florida, and is a lifelong political enthusiast. She is looking forward to her first experience as a research assistant with the BIP Lab.      


Evelyn Sanchez Hernandez is a Mexican second-year student at Harris MPP. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and International Relations from the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE). Prior to Harris, Evelyn worked four years in the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (AMEXCID), coordinating technical assistance projects with Asian countries. Her areas of interest are social innovation and development. 


Mollye Shacklette is a first-year MPP student at the Harris School of Public Policy. Originally from Louisiana, she graduated magna cum laude from the University of Notre Dame with a BA in Political Science. Previously, she worked as a RA at the Notre Dame Institute of Advanced Study and with Professors Mary Ellen Konieczny and Benjamin Radcliff. She has also worked for the American Enterprise Institute and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Mollye is interested in international development and education policy and expects to graduate in 2019.    


Rohen Shah is a graduate student at the Harris School of Public Policy. He has a Bachelor's in Math and Economics, as well as a Master's in Education, both from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Prior to joining the BIP Lab, he was a research and teaching assistant at the University of Michigan and taught math in Detroit. He is the founder of the Ed Tech company DaigKNOWstics, and creates educational rap songs as "MC SKULE". He is the winner of the 2018 National Tutor of the Year Award


Hayley Thompson is a fourth year at the University of Chicago, majoring in Political Science. While Hayley spent the last year abroad at King’s College London, she is eager to return to campus as an undergraduate research assistant of the BIP lab. She has always been interested in behavioral economics and public policy, particularly as it pertains to education and social welfare. Inspired by her mother who as a Los Angeles District Attorney worked tirelessly over the years for child advocacy in the criminal justice system, Hayley joined a number of RSOs on campus designed to support children development, and is excited to focus her efforts at the BIP lab. When Hayley is not in the classroom or working, she can be found on the soccer field as an outside midfielder for the University of Chicago Women’s Soccer team.

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Leah Umanskiy is a student in the College double majoring in Economics and Fundamentals: Issues & Texts, an interdisciplinary humanities program. As a member of the Fundamentals program, she will be exploring the question: ‘What is social justice?’ Additionally, Leah will be working with the BIP Lab to explore answers to her question outside of the classroom. Leah is interested in economic and educational disparities in the city and is eager to get involved in the neighboring communities. Outside of this program, Leah is involved with New Americans UChicago and Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed community service fraternity. Leah expects to graduate in 2020. 

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Maria Paula Valderrama is an MPP student at the Harris School of Public Policy. She is originally from Colombia and holds a BA and MA in economics and a BA in industrial engineering from Universidad de los Andes. Currently, Maria is working as an RA for the BIP Lab. Before coming to The University of Chicago, she worked at the Ministry of Finance of Colombia on the design of macroeconomic and fiscal policy, and on the development of trade and housing policy. Maria expects to graduate in 2018. 

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Manyi Wang is an MPP student at the Harris School of Public Policy. She is from China and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Management from Renmin University of China. She is currently working as a Research Assistant for the BIP Lab, mainly involved in site visits. Before joining the BIP, Manyi interned in WWF, China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security as well as BMW Group. She is passionate about the intersection of research and policymaking. Outside of the lab, she loves tennis, skating andbackpacking. Manyi expects to graduate in 2018.    


Former Research Assistants

Shweta Akolkar

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Katie Bart

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Derek Chan

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F Coello

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Estefania Espinoza

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Brooke Goren


Simone Denny

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Naomi Ganz

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Abby Eskenazi

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Miriam Gonzalez

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Nini Gu

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Alanna Heyer

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Joyce Lu


Shen Han

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Elena Jimenez

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Sophie Milam

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Maria (Mimi) Hess

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Fatima Khan

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Adelaida Miranda

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Marissa Montoya

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 Songkhun Nillasithanakroh

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An Nguyen

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Gustavo Novoa 

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Nick Pellow

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Leonor Ortiz

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Megan Porter

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Gonnie Park


Arabella Pluta-Ehlers

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Mayra Quinonez

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Melissa Whitney


Martha Teka

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Christina Xiao


Manuel Toral 

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Miriam (Xiaoyue) Yu

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Adela Zhang

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