Staff Profile: Martin Aragoneses

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What do you do at J-PAL? I am a research assistant for MIT Professor Amy Finkelstein. I am Amy’s lead RA working on the randomized evaluation of a program designed to encourage enrollment of low-income, elderly individuals in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as ‘food-stamps.’ I conduct real-time data processing to monitor the implementation of the intervention, and code the statistical analyses that will eventually appear in a journal article with the results of the study.

What drew you to want to work at J-PAL? I took Edward Miguel’s course during my senior year in undergrad and worked with him as a research assistant, having a first-hand experience with RCTs and other applied metrics methods, I realized I wanted to become an academic economist. After going through a very theory-heavy masters I felt I needed some more applied research exposure, so I came to Cambridge to work with Amy, who is the co-scientific director of J-PAL North America, and thus, I am here.

What is your favorite place in the world that you have been? I actually really like it here. Cambridge, MA is an awesome place to live. It has super engaging academic community, and it’s really close to Boston, which is a great city!

If you had a million dollars to donate, what would you give it to? I think adoption of digital technologies and Internet in developing areas could be a major game changer to lift communities out of poverty (if implemented well!). I’d find an NGO working on expanding digital access and I would partner with them, and run an RCT on their intervention, looking for the most cost-effective mechanisms to close ‘digital divides.’

Read Martin’s bio on the J-PAL North America website.

Staff Profile: Emma Rackstraw

What do you do at J-PAL? As a Policy Associate, I help ensure that US public policies are informed by research and encourage the production of rigorous evidence to inform those emma_rackstrawpolicies. I facilitate collaborations between policymakers at the state and local level and J-PAL affiliated researchers to design, implement, and learn from randomized evaluations, for example through the State and Local Innovation Initiative and the Health Care Delivery Initiative.

What drew you to want to work at J-PAL? Coming from the public sector, I know just how important it is for policymakers to have access to rigorous and relevant evidence on the policy issues that they care most about. I came to J-PAL North America because I want to help build the evidence base on US anti-poverty programs so that policymakers can make informed decisions about how best to improve the lives of their constituents.

What is your favorite place in the world that you have been? Tie between Ljubljana, Slovenia and Cape Town, South Africa.

If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be? Either Mozart– he’s not my favorite composer but he might be the among the more interesting composers to dine with– or John Green.

If you could buy one material thing, and money was not an issue, what would you buy? One of the incredibly beautiful historic homes in Somerville.

Read Emma’s bio on the J-PAL North America website.

Staff Profile: Erik James

What do you do at J-PAL? I work for Amy helping run her healthcare RCTs. I’m mainly working on her Health Care Hotspotting RCT in Camden, New Jersey. Erik_James

What drew you to want to work at J-PAL? I wanted to get more experience doing empirical economic research and was interested in learning more about the economics behind healthcare delivery.

What is your favorite place in the world that you have been? Iguazu Falls. It’s a spectacular waterfall surrounded by rainforest on the border of Brazil and Argentina.

If you had to eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? Avocado, I think that’s one of the few foods you could survive on by itself?

If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be? President Obama.

Read Erik’s bio on the J-PAL North America website.

Staff Profile: Rohit Naimpally

What do you do at J-PAL? I work with policymakers in government to develop evaluations rohit_naimpallyof promising programs. I also work on the development of resources for researchers and practitioners interested in conducting their own randomized evaluations.

What drew you to want to work at J-PAL? The methodology and the blend of academic
rigor and real-world impact.

What is your favorite place in the world that you have been? Any place with my dog Naina is a happy place.

If you had to eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? Ice cream.

If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be? Frederick Douglass.

 

Read Rohit’s bio on the J-PAL North America website.

Staff Profile: Vincent Quan

What do you do at J-PAL? I am a Policy Manager at J-PAL North America. In my role, I support evidence-based policymaking by forming new research partnerships, distilling key policy lessons from research, and assisting policymakers in their use of randomized evaluations.

What drew you to want to work at J-PAL? I have always sought out professional opportunities to help our society’s most marginalized communities. While I enjoy academia, I believe research should be used to shape real-life solutions to our world’s most pressing problems. For this reason, J-PAL’s mission to reduce poverty through evidence-based policymaking really resonated with me.  vincent_quan

What is your favorite place in the world that you have been? Kyoto. When you’re there, it feels like you’ve been transported back in time!

If you had a million dollars to donate, what would you give it to? An organization that provides meaningful, career-track job opportunities to formerly incarcerated youth.

Read Vincent’s bio on the J-PAL North America website.

Announcing the Four Winners of Inaugural J-PAL Health Care Delivery Innovation Competition

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We are delighted to announce today that J-PAL North America has selected CareOregon, Commonwealth Care Alliance, the Northeast Delta Human Services Authority and the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections as the winners of the inaugural Health Care Delivery Innovation Competition. Over the next year, we will work with these four organizations to develop randomized evaluations of innovative programs with the potential to serve as models for improving the health of vulnerable populations. The pioneering efforts of the winners touch on major public health issues: addressing the opioid epidemic, improving social determinants of health, integrating primary and behavioral health care, and engaging high-cost, high-need patients.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with these four innovative organizations to generate evidence with the potential to inform the practice of health care across the United States,” said Amy Finkelstein, the John & Jennie S. MacDonald Professor of Economics at MIT and co-Scientific Director of J-PAL North America.

CareOregon, a nonprofit health plan serving a large Medicaid population in Oregon, was selected based on its efforts to leverage a network of social service providers outside of the traditional boundaries of the health care system to improve the health of Medicaid patients. Commonwealth Care Alliance, Massachusetts care delivery system for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries with complex medical needs, is deploying financial incentives to engage some of its highest-need, but most difficult to reach patients. The Northeast Delta Human Services Authority, a quasi-governmental behavioral health care safety net provider in northeastern Louisiana, has developed an innovative integrated services network to provide integrated primary care and a range of social services to rural and low-income populations with behavioral health needs. The Louisville Metro Department of Corrections, which administers correctional facilities in Louisville, Kentucky, is designing a pay-for-success initiative to provide treatment to individuals with substance abuse disorders upon release from jail.

“Improving the care we deliver to vulnerable populations is critical to the viability of our health care system. Generating rigorous evidence of innovative programs is a key step in realizing this financial and moral imperative,” said Quentin Palfrey, Executive Director of J-PAL North America.

Read the full press release here and stay updated on our blog to learn more information about the competition winners.

The Health Care Delivery Innovation Competition is a part of J-PAL’s U.S. Health Care Delivery Initiative, which supports the randomized evaluations of strategies to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of health care in the United States. We’ll be hosting a fall conference to share the work of the initiative. Keep an eye on this blog, our Facebook page, and Twitter feed for more information.

 

Job Opportunity: Policy and Research Intern (Fall 2016)

J-PAL North America is recruiting a Policy and Research Intern for fall 2016 to contribute to its mission of building the capacity of policymakers to use and generate rigorous evidence of what works in the fight against poverty. The Policy and Research Intern will support J-PAL North America’s mission through a range of responsibilities including: supporting the development and coordination of capacity-building activities; supporting stakeholder and partnership engagements, and; assisting in organizing customized courses and trainings for partner organizations.

We are looking for someone with strong organizational and communication skills, knowledge of econometrics or statistics, and an interest in poverty alleviation. This position is based in Cambridge, MA. It is a paid, part-time position (10-20 hours per week) during the 2016 fall semester. Work schedule and start and end dates are flexible.

We will begin reviewing applications on a rolling basis as we receive them. For more information, see the job description and application information here.