Research Assistants

Current Research Assistants

BIP Lab RA Team 2016-2017.jpg

Simone Denny.jpeg Simone Denny is a masters Student at the School of Social Service Administration. She was raised in New York City and has a Bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Beloit College in Wisconsin. Simone moved to Chicago in 2011 where she has been involved in work with survivors of domestic violence, most recently as a legal advocate at Neopolitan Lighthouse. Simone is interested in the direct practice of Social Work, while deepening an understanding of the larger systems that impact and shape our lives. In her free time, Simone enjoys cooking, reading, and relaxing with her cats. 
Abby Eskenazi_0.jpg Abby Eskenazi  is a first year MPP student at the Harris School of Public Policy. She grew up in Elmhurst, Illinois and earned her Bachelor's Degree at Washington University in St. Louis. Before joining the BIP Lab, Abby worked at United Way of Greater St. Louis as the project manager for a financial empowerment program for Head Start families. She is also an alum of the MatchCorps Urban Education Fellowship and the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs. Abby is interested in early childhood education policy and public-private partnerships. Abby expects to graduate in 2018. 
Naomi Gancz.jpg Naomi Gancz is an undergraduate studying psychology and sociology. Naomi was born in Israel and moved to a suburb of Washington, D.C. at a young age. She is interested in the social factors that influence stress and psychopathology, and hopes to pursue a career in behavioral health research. Outside the lab, Naomi is active in community service and in criminal justice reform advocacy; she also enjoys music and cooking. Naomi expects to graduate in 2019. 
Daniela Gomez.jpeg 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. 
Nini Gu_0.JPG Nini Gu is an MS candidate in the Environmental Science and Policy program. She has bachelor’s degrees in chemical engineering and mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to Harris, she worked as an engineer for a major consumer goods company, where her latest role focused on consumer insights for optimizing product development. It was in this role that she understood the power of behavioral analysis and modeling. In the future, she hopes to apply the tools and techniques of behavioral intervention used in the private industry to solve public policy problems, especially in the field of environmental policy. Nini expects to graduate in 2017. 
Shen Han_0.jpeg Shen Han  is an MPP student at the Harris School of Public Policy. He is originally from Tianjin, China, and earned his dual bachelor’s degrees in Laws and Economics from Nankai University. Shen is interested in data analysis and computational behavioral science. At the BIP Lab, he works on the Mind in Focus project, auditing and analyzing experimental data, collaborated with other onsite research assistants. Before joining the Lab, he worked as an assistant data analyst at the National Supercomputing Center in China. In his free time, he can usually be found in the library or the music practice room. He hopes to become a data analyst in the future, or maybe a film producer. Shen expects to graduate in 2017. 
Arianna Hernandez_0.JPG Arianna Hernandez  is a student in the College majoring in Comparative Human Development. Her little siblings inspire her interest in child psychology and parenting. Ari is curious about healthy eating, exercise, and mindfulness as a means to energize and enrich growing bodies and brains. Outside of the lab, Ari is a mentor for Women & Youth Supporting Each Other, a teacher for Peer Health Exchange, and a board member of Splash! Chicago. Arianna expects to graduate in 2019. 
Mimi Headshot Website.jpg Maria (Mimi) Hess is a second year undergraduate majoring in Economics and Philosophy. She is originally from Parsippany, New Jersey. Mimi has a strong interest in behavioral economics, and is interested in learning how different policies and incentives affect parental behavior and ultimately child development. Outside of the BIP lab, Mimi is a tutor for Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, a student consultant for Green Economics Group, and a committee chair for Chicago Model United Nations. 
Elena Jimenez.jpg Elena Jimenez is an MPP student at the Harris School of Public Policy. She is interested in Education, Early Childhood and Family Policy. Before joining the BIP Lab, Elena worked in banking and finance in Mexico City and Cancun. She hopes to apply the experience and knowledge to education-financing policy issues and programs. In her spare time she likes to walk her dog and play the drums. Elena expects to graduate in 2018.
Adelaida Headshot Website.jpg Adelaida Miranda is an MPP student at the Harris School of Public Policy, and received her bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Adelaida is currently working as a Research Assistant for the BIP Lab, supporting the early childhood project Show Up 2 Grow Up. Before joining the BIP Lab, Adelaida worked in the airline business and volunteered in senior care homes in both Chile and India. She is interested in social development and poverty reduction in developing countries.
Songkhun Nillasithanakroh_0.jpg Songkhun (Sunny) Nillasithanukroh  graduated with an MA from Harris School of Public Policy in 2016. Prior to joining Harris, he received his bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is originally from Nonthaburi, Thailand. Sunny is interested in developing policies and programs that can improve child educational outcomes. Sunny is currently working on the Show Up 2 Grow Up project at the BIP Lab. In his free time, Sunny likes to bake, read, and take a long walk (but not in the winter!). 
Gustavo Novoa_0.jpeg Gustavo Novoa is an MPP student at the Harris School of Public Policy, as part of an BA/MPP joint program with The College at University of Chicago. He is originally from Caracas, Venezuela, but grew up in Miami, Florida. Gustavo is interested in the intersection between theory and applied policy research, and hopes to attend a PhD program after graduating from Harris. In his free time, Gustavo enjoys cooking, playing guitar, and hiking. Gustavo expects to graduate in 2018. 
Leonor Ortiz.jpg Leonor Ortiz Monasterio  is an MPP student at the Harris School of Public Policy. She was born and raised in Mexico City where she completed her BA in International Relations. Leonor is interested in accountability, transparency and security. Before joining the BIP Lab, she worked in forensic consulting at FTI Consulting in Mexico City. Leonor expects to graduate in 2017. 
Lina Pedraza.jpeg 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. 
Nick Pellow.jpg Nick Pellow is a MPP student at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy. His undergraduate work was in philosophy at Wake Forest University. Afterwards, he interned with Dr. Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute think tank in Washington D.C., doing research on the intersection of economics, poverty and culture. He now is pursuing a focus in urban poverty and inequality. Nick expects to graduate in 2018. 
Mayra Quinonez_0.jpg Mayra Quinonez  is an MPP student at the Harris School of Public Policy and earned a bachelor's degree in International Relations. Mayra is originally from Guadalajara, Mexico and has a strong interest in development and social participation. She is currently working as a Research Assistant on the Show Up 2 Grow Up and the M-PACT projects. Before joining the BIP Lab she worked as a Research Assistant for a non profit related to housing and as a Planner for a local government in Mexico managing funds and resources to plan and execute urban infrastructure through a participatory budget. Mayra expects to graduate in 2017. 
Manuel Toral.jpeg Manuel Toral is an MPP Candidate at Harris School of Public Policy. He is from Mexico City where he studied Political Science and International Relations at the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE). Before being part of the BIP Lab, Manuel worked as an adviser for the Government of Jalisco, the second biggest state in Mexico. He is interested in violence and crime and believes that education is the main strategy to tackle those problems. Manuel expects to graduate in 2017. 
Manyi Wang_0.jpeg 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 and backpacking. Manyi expects to graduate in 2018. 

Former Research Assistants

Shweta Akolkar_0.png Shweta Akolkar is from Lansdale, PA. She was an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, studying Economics. She worked on the PACT project in the BIP Lab, and was mainly involved in site visits. She helped to recruit parents for the study and conducted weekly check-ins with parents to collect data. She has also audited video data for the project. After graduating, she hopes to go into economic research because she loves the economic method of analysis and wants a job that allows her to use it. She also enjoys theater, singing and Kathak dance.
Katie Bart copy.png Katie Bart was a student in the College studying public policy with a specialization in inequality studies. She was born and raised in Troy, Michigan. She was an onsite research assistant with the BIP Lab's mindfulness research and Show Up 2 Grow Up study. In addition to working for the BIP Lab, Katie volunteered at the Children's Hospital on campus and was a board member for UChicago's Be the Match RSO. 
Derek Chan.jpg Derek Chan was an undergraduate Psychology major at the University of Chicago from Paradise Valley, Arizona. At the BIP Lab, he was an onsite research assistant with the PACT Project and went to preschools to collect data. In addition to working at the BIP Lab, he was involved in the a capella group Rhythm and Jews, and occasionally participated in University Theater’s many theater performances throughout the academic year. He hopes to pursue a career in research in Psychology, focusing on the impacts of technology and media on group thought and behavior. 
F Coello copy.JPG F Coello was an MPP student at the Harris School of Public Policy. F is originally from Guayaquil, Ecuador. F earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan and a master's degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania. F is interested in exploring how policies and practices can foster educational access and success for underserved populations in the U.S. F expects to graduate in 2017.
 
Estefania Espinoza_0.jpg Estefania Espinoza was a student in the college majoring in Public Policy with specializations in business psychology and early childhood development. She is originally from Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. Estefania is passionate about mental health, youth development, and international politics. In addition to working for the BIP Lab, Estefania was a Career Peer Advisor at UChicago’s Career Advancement center and participated in the IOP, OMSA, and OLAS. When not working, she can be found enjoying a long run along the lakefront. Estefania expects to graduate in 2017. 
Brooke.jpg Brooke Goren is originally from Media, Pennsylvania. She was an undergraduate at the University of Chicago studying Public Policy. In the BIP Lab she helped to prepare various communications materials on research findings and events. Outside of the BIP Lab she also worked as an intern in the Mayor of Chicago’s Press Office. She is passionate about the intersection of research and policy and is pursuing plans to work in policymaking at the governmental level upon graduating. 
AlannaHeyer Headshot Website.jpg Alanna Heyer is originally from Durham, NC. She was an undergraduate at the University of Chicago double-majoring in Public Policy and Fundamentals: Issues & Texts, an interdisciplinary humanities program. She seeks to connect her passion for exploring innovative solutions for improving youths' education and future life outcomes with hands-on research. Outside of the BIP Lab she interned with the Department of Health and Human Services, and in her free time she can always be found in the dance studio. After graduation she began work as a consultant analyst with Accenture, and in the future aims to pursue an MPP with a focus on education policy.
Fatima Khan_0.JPG Fatima Khan was a student in the College, originally from the suburb of Crystal Lake, Illinois. She studied Biology and Spanish, with the hopes of pursuing a career in medicine. In addition to working as a research assistant with the BIP Lab, Fatima researched DNA damage sensing and repair in relation to cancer. She also served on the Frizzell Programming Committee to shed light on global and environmental health, and was a TA for the Biology department. She is interested in health disparities and the social, cultural, and economic determinants of health. Outside of academics, Fatima loves to cook and enjoys traveling. Fatima expects to graduate in 2018.    
Joyce.jpg Joyce Lu, originally from Athens, Georgia, was a Sociology major at the University of Chicago. She worked as an onsite research assistant on the PACT project. In addition to working with the BIP Lab, she was a research assistant at the Hale Institute for Comparative Neurobiology.
Sophie Milam Website Edit.jpeg Sophie Milam  is interested in the psychology of poverty and the application of psychology and behavioral insights in nutrition and poverty policy. She did data collection and coding for the PACT Project and worked with Professors Kalil and Mayer to plan a Behavioral Insights Boot Camp for executives working in child and family programs and policy. Prior to the BIP Lab, Sophie worked at the Center for Behavioral Economics and Child Nutrition at the Dyson School of Applied Economics at Cornell University, where she collaborated in the design of new research promoting nutritious choices among food pantry clients. Previously she worked as Director of Nutrition Assistance and Budget Policy for Feeding America and Senior Domestic Policy Analyst for Bread for the World in Washington, DC. Through these organizations, Sophie worked to advance nutrition and poverty policy objectives through policy development and legislative, media, grassroots and partnership strategy. Sophie earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from UNC Chapel Hill prior to completing her MPP at the Harris School in 2016. 
Marissa Montoya.jpg Marissa Montoya was an onsite research assistant on the PACT Project for the BIP Lab. She is originally from Setauket, New York. She was an undergraduate at the University of Chicago and hopes to look into different types of behavioral research opportunities. In her free time she enjoys playing soccer, reading fantasy novels, playing video games and learning about cryptography. 
An Nguyen.jpeg An Nguyen was an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, originally from Sugar Hill, GA. She majored in Psychology and hopes to pursue more research opportunities in Psychology in the future, as well as apply to medical school. In addition to being a research assistant at the BIP Lab, she was an Office Assistant at the Office of Special Programs, where she worked closely with the Associate Director to maintain student documents and communicate with parents, and a tutor at Comer’s Children’s Hospital, where she provides besides tutoring to young patients in all subjects. Prior to joining the BIP Lab she worked as a tutor with the Neighborhood Schools Program and as a research assistant at the Cognitive Neuroscience at Tech Lab. 
Gonnie.png Gonnie Park wasn a graduate research assistant for the BIP Lab while she was an MPP student at the Harris School of Public Policy. She is originally from Seoul, South Korea, and attended Korea University for her undergraduate degree. She also has an MBA from the Boston College Carroll School of Management. Before joining the BIP Lab she worked at The Center for Philanthropy at the Beautiful Foundation, in-house research institute, as a research project manager. She also worked as a research intern at Boston Community Capital, one of the leading Community Development Financial Institutions in New England. She has been involved in research for the “Annual Giving Survey Report, Giving Korea,” the “2010 Boston Community Load Fund Social Impact Report” and the “Analysis of the Financial Conditions of Korean Non-profit Social Service Organizations.” After graduating, she hopes to become a researcher; her fields of interest are family, health and labor policy, but she is also interested in non-profit management and public private partnership issues. Gonnie graduated in 2016.
Megan Porter_Headshot.jpg Megan Porter is a graduate of the University of Chicago, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. She studied Public Policy and hopes to be a human rights attorney. As an attorney, she wants to approach policy issues like access to education, equity and others from a legal standpoint. She was an onsite research assistant on the PACT project, and primarily worked on collecting data at preschools. In addition to working for the BIP Lab, she was a research assistant in the Decision Research Lab at the Booth School of Business. In her free time, she was a member of the Le Vorris & Vox circus at the University of Chicago. She is an aerialist and has choreographed a silks act for their performances.    
Arabella Pluta-Ehlers.jpg Arabella Pluta-Ehlers was an undergraduate Comparative Human Development major at the University of Chicago from Mountainside, NJ. She was a research assistant on the PACT Project at the BIP Lab, where she audited data and went to preschools to collect data. In addition to working at the BIP Lab she has been a Team Leader at Jumpstart, a non-profit organization that teaches language and literacy skills in local preschools. She was also the Director for the Committee on Community Events in NEURO, an undergraduate neuroscience-interest club, where she organized events to engage the campus and the broader community in neuroscience. After graduation she hopes to work with an organization that increases access to early education or helps involve families in their children’s education. Ultimately, she hopes to do research or policy work on closing the opportunity gap through Early Childhood Education and programming. 
Martha Headshot copy.jpg Martha Teka is from the Twin Cities, Minnesota. She is in the College studying pre-med and public policy. Within the BIP Lab, Martha worked as a research assistant on the Parents Working on Wellness (ParentsWOW) project, recruiting subjects and collecting data on parents about mindfulness, as well as the Show Up 2 Grow Up attendance study. After graduation, Martha hopes to attend medical school to pursue psychiatry. She is passionate about mental health and the intersection between psychiatric research and mental healthcare policy. Outside of the lab, she writes for an on-campus food magazine and enjoys theatre. 
MWhitney15.jpg Melissa Whitney is an MPP student at the Harris School of Public Policy. She is from Bensenville, Illinois and earned a Bachelor's of Social Work and Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Ball State University. She is a student in the Graduate Program for Health Administration and Policy. At the BIP Lab, she was an onsite research assistant with the Show Up 2 Grow Up research project and goes to preschools to collect data. Prior to working at the BIP Lab, Melissa worked with Head Start parents at a non-profit on the west side of Chicago. When she isn't working or studying she can usually be found with headphones on and knitting socks. Melissa expects to graduate in June 2017.
Christina.jpg Christina Xiao was a History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Medicine (HIPSS) and Public Policy double major at the University of Chicago. In the BIP Lab, she worked as an onsite research assistant and collected data at various preschools for the PACT Project. Prior to working at the BIP Lab, she was involved in cancer biology research. She worked at both the Scripps Research Institute and the University of Basel to investigate lymphoma and ovarian cancer. She hopes to bring the same appreciation of quantitative analysis and attention to detail to the social science research she is helping to conduct at the BIP Lab. After graduating, she plans on going to medical school and obtaining a degree in public health policy with the eventual goal of working on international health policy. She is particularly interested in the social determinants of health to alleviate health inequalities in both developed and underserved nations. She is originally from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Miriam Yu.jpg Miriam (Xiaoyue) Yu was a student at the Harris School of Public Policy, from China. In the BIP Lab she worked as a research assistant on the PACT Project, collecting and auditing data and preparing and compiling materials for on-site visits. Before joining the BIP Lab she worked as a consultant for AFSC’s Northwest Asia Quaker International Affairs Representative Program (NEAQIAR). Upon graduating from Harris she would like to delve further into the field of Early Childhood Education and look for research opportunities that also involve Psychology.   
Adela Zhang.jpg Adela Zhang was an undergraduate Public Policy and Latin American Studies double major at the University of Chicago. She collected and audited data for the PACT Project. In the future she hopes to work in Latin America, ideally in some public policy capacity and feels as though she has learned a lot about how research is conducted for possible policy application through the BIP Lab. She is originally from Dallas, Texas, and in her free time she enjoys listening to Latin pop music and baking.