Staff Profile: Martin Aragoneses


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.

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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