Staff Profile: Laura Feeney

What do you do at J-PAL? I am a Senior Research Manager. I have two main responsibilities: manage ongoing randomized evaluations for MIT Professor Amy Finkelstein, and facilitate more and higher quality randomized evaluations in the US. I manage the work of research assistants across projects, communicate with partner staff in order to design and implement interventions, and negotiate data use agreements. To facilitate more evaluations, I am working to create and promote best practiceLaura_Feeney.jpgs in research. Much of this work has focused on understanding how to acquire and use administrative data.

What is the most interesting project you have worked on at J-PAL? One of the projects I’m working on is analyzing the impact of outreach and application assistance on SNAP take-up, and examining who this type of assistance is most likely to help. Eventually, we’re hoping to examine the effects of SNAP on health outcomes. This project is interesting for its combination of issues: social welfare, public health, targeting, and its policy relevance.

What drew you to want to work at J-PAL? I am passionate about evidence- and data-based policymaking, improving the quality of research, and improving the lives of the poor. J-PAL’s commitment to translating and synthesizing the results of policy-relevant evaluations, and to spurring new rigorous evaluations appeals to me. Personally, I wanted to gain experience designing and implementing impact evaluations in a broader field, and in a developed country. Working with J-PAL affiliates provides the opportunity to learn from (and even influence!) cutting-edge researchers, which can only serve to sharpen my own evaluation skills.

If you had to eat only once food for the rest of your life, what would it be? Beans. I ate a LOT of beans during my time in Honduras, and I’m still not sick of them, so this seems like a decent choice.

What was the last book that you got really invested in? Outlander.

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


Author: J-PAL North America

J-PAL North America seeks to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. We do this through research, outreach, and training. We collaborate with decision-makers to generate clear, scientific evidence on which approaches work and why. We catalyze and support randomized evaluations, communicate evidence to help translate research into action, and build policymakers’ capacity to create and use evidence.

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