Meet the RAs

Monica Barbosa

Research Department
Focus: macroeconomics, finance
Research Projects: insurance company risk behavior; financial sector stability

I joined the research department after receiving a BA in Economics and Mathematics from Yale University. I work for senior economist Ali Ozdagli in the Macro Finance section, and study topics ranging from market reactions to Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) announcements to insurance company risk exposure. I get to use several different types of data, and in doing so have gained a better understanding of different parts of the macro economy. These days, I am working on relating corporate bonds data with financial sector stability metrics.

Even though I am an assistant by job title, I am encouraged to contribute ideas to the projects that I work on with my economist. I have the opportunity to learn not just through my work, but also through research seminars presented by outside economists and through training in coding techniques that are given by more experienced RAs. The opportunities for growth at the Boston Fed make it a great place to prepare for pursuing a PhD in economics or a related field.

Keith Barnatchez

Research Department
Focus: macroeconomics; monetary policy and international finance
Research Projects: spillovers through global trade networks; market responses to macroeconomic policy news; forecasting of macroeconomic variables

I joined the research department in the summer of 2018 after graduating from Colby College. As a research assistant for Jenny Tang and Slavik Sheremirov, I've been involved in numerous projects covering different macroeconomic topics, primarily developing/solving models, wrangling data and writing statistical programs. These days, I've been working on a project that examines the role trade networks have in spreading economic shocks across countries.

Working at the Boston Fed has pushed me to expand my understanding of economics beyond what I learned in college, and more importantly it has allowed me to constantly refine the way I approach and solve abstract research problems. I have enjoyed the department’s collaborative environment and the strong camaraderie among the RAs. I've learned a great deal from my economists, as well as from my fellow RAs, and I have really appreciated how much everyone in the department enjoys sharing their knowledge and experience. The Fed is a great place to work for anyone who enjoys working on challenging data-driven problems, and especially for those considering graduate school for economics/public policy!

Meghana Bhaskar

Research Department
Focus: Financial Stability, Monetary Policy
Research Projects: Flights to quality triggered by financial risk-off episodes; adapting monetary policy tools to the changing composition of the Fed’s balance sheet

After receiving my MA in economics from the University of Texas at Austin, in 2019 I joined the Boston Fed as a research assistant to Joe Peek, Vice President and Economist in the Macro-Finance division.

In my relatively short time here, I have picked up valuable programming skills and strengthened my economic intuition while delving into the nitty-gritty aspects of policy work. Frequent chats with my economist have given me a good understanding about formulating and approaching an economic question and also have allowed me to explore further issues beyond the defined economic question at hand. I greatly value having a mentor in my economist who constantly inspires me to keep working towards my goals and is extremely invested in my development as a researcher.

The collegial environment at the Boston Fed’s Research Department is priceless for someone who’s transitioning from a school-setting to a work environment. The RA community is warm, welcoming, and extremely helpful to the incoming RAs.

My passion for economics has only strengthened since I started working here. Interacting with other economists and attending seminars at the research department has introduced me to different lines of work within the broader fields that interest me— international finance and monetary economics. Eventually, I want to get my PhD and become a research economist. Meanwhile, I look forward to learning and growing as much as I can while I’m here!

Rachel Cummings

Research Department
Focus: macroeconomics; household consumption and saving; consumer behavior
Research Projects: consumer behavior regarding revolving credit card debt; labor market and job search efforts

After earning a BA in economics from Wellesley College, I joined the research department in the summer of 2019. I work closely with my economist, María José Luengo-Prado, on both research and policy-oriented projects. My assignments have expanded my fluency in various economic topics, the research process, and statistical programming.

Beyond having opportunities for my personal professional development, I am deeply appreciative of the supportive and collaborative environment that the Fed encourages. My fellow research assistants challenge me as much intellectually as my work with María does.

Looking ahead, I plan to pursue a PhD in economics. I look forward to taking advantage of the tuition reimbursement program and completing further coursework in mathematics and economics.

Melissa Gentry

Research Department
New England Public Policy Center
Focus: applied microeconomics, regional and public economics
Research Projects: rural/urban disparity, tax competition

I work as a research assistant to Jeffrey Thompson, director of the New England Public Policy Center (NEPPC) and a senior economist here at the Fed. I have worked on a variety of policy-oriented projects, an opportunity which has allowed me to become more comfortable in my Stata and data-processing abilities while furthering my knowledge on topics that I am passionate about. Getting to work one-on-one with my economist has been an invaluable experience because, as we move further along with the research, we will often discuss the results, which helps in developing my academic intuition. As an NEPPC RA I also get to assist my economist in producing slides for regional talks, a task that gives me a first-hand look into local economic conditions throughout New England as these relate to the post-recession recovery, poverty, and inequality. While I ultimately plan to pursue a PhD in economics or public policy, the Boston Fed is a great stepping stone along this path.

Lan Ha

Research Department
New England Public Policy Center
Focus: applied microeconomics; labor economics; public economics; the New England economy
Research Projects: labor market outcomes for criminal offenders; state aid and educational outcomes; local option meal tax

I joined the New England Public Policy Center in the summer of 2018 after receiving my BA in economics from Mount Holyoke College. I assist senior economist Bo Zhao on projects such as examining how the adoption of the local option meal tax affects municipalities in Massachusetts, and the relationship between state aid to universities and the number of approved patents obtained by research institutions. I have enjoyed the different stages of the research process and developing my statistical programming skills. I am grateful for the opportunity to be mentored and inspired by the department’s economists and by my colleagues every day.

If there is one common trait shared by all the RAs at the Boston Fed, it must be how much we appreciate the supportive, collegial, and collaborative environment our workplace provides. I am also excited to benefit from the tuition assistance program to take classes at local universities. The knowledge and skills gained from the research assistant program will be a tremendous help to refining my research interests and pursuing a PhD in economics in the near future.

Morgan Klaeser

Research Department
New England Public Policy Center
Focus: Applied microeconomics, public finance, labor economics
Research Projects: education economics, school finance, health economics, the New England regional economy

I enjoy the independence and sense of ownership associated with my work as a research assistant for Katharine Bradbury, senior economist and policy advisor. My average day is spent taming data or writing statistical programs in Stata. I am happy to know that I can knock on my economist’s door with any questions or ideas that come to mind, a work environment that nicely complements my hands-on learning style. I am grateful to have support for my development and to learn what I can incorporate into my workflow to improve my performance. Receiving constant feedback, even from economists who I help with small tasks, helps me strengthen my economic intuition. Supporting the research of an economist with so much expertise in her field gives me access to an outstanding role model and inspires me to set high expectations of myself and my future goals.

As a Boston Fed research assistant I am exposed to everything involved in the research process, from the initial literature review to making final revisions to a paper before the journal submission. The multiple seminar series offered by the Fed give an up-close view of what a well-implemented project looks like across the various fields of economics. The excellent work-life balance at the Fed renders me with time to study independently, train for obstacle courses, and to explore the greater Boston area with my fellow RAs.

In the future, I hope to pursue a PhD in economics or management science and engineering.

Samuel Makikalli

Research Department
Focus: applied microeconomics, health economics, labor economics
Research Projects: socioeconomic outcomes of medical treatments; inflation expectations; informal labor

I joined the research department in the summer of 2019 after graduating from Lewis & Clark College with a BA in economics and international affairs. As a research assistant for Mary Burke and Anat Bracha, I have the opportunity to work on a wide range of fascinating projects. I may spend one week measuring consumers’ expectations about changes in inflation rates, and then spend the next week analyzing the health and socioeconomic outcomes of opioid treatment programs. Having some variety in my own projects, proximity to numerous other researchers, and access to relevant seminars are just some examples of how the research department offers constant exposure to a host of topics from diverse fields of economics. Furthermore, as a research assistant I can observe and participate in every step of a project’s lifecycle – including the formulation of a question, the implementation of experiments/surveys, the cleansing and analysis of large datasets, and the production of final materials for publication.

Working as a research assistant at the Boston Fed will enable me to narrow down my specific research interests, strengthen my technical skills, and contribute to policy analysis. In time, these combined experiences will serve as assets as I pursue a PhD in economics, political economy, or public policy.

Mark Manion

Supervision, Regulation, and Credit Department
Supervisory Research and Analysis Unit
Focus: financial economics; banking, regulation; asset pricing
Research Projects: credit default swap markets; systemic risk; bank interdependence

As a research assistant in the Supervisory Research and Analysis Unit, I have been exposed to a variety of stimulating research projects conducted by the several economists and fellow research assistants that form this tightly-knit group. The ability to attend frequent seminars by accomplished and impactful economists has been and will continue to be one of my favorite aspects of my immersion into the wide-ranging field of economic research here at the Fed. The unique collaborative environment at the Boston Fed also provides a wonderful resource for improving upon critical computer programming, statistical analysis, and other quantitative skills as well as the opportunity to contribute to relevant research that helps to shape the policy decisions that affect our financial system.

Melanie Qing

Research Department
Focus: finance and macroeconomic issues
Research Projects: FinTech marketplace lending

I joined the research department as a research assistant in 2019 after graduating from Boston College. While there are many aspects of my position that I enjoy, the most valuable one is the Boston Fed’s commitment toward fostering an environment that is both academically driven and focused on the individual development of its research assistants. I have the unique opportunity to work one-on-one with senior economist and policy advisor, Christina Wang, who has helped me to refine my programming skills, expand my knowledge of empirical analysis, and strengthen my economic intuition. Additionally, the bank encourages me to continue taking classes and offers a flexible work schedule to support this educational goal. After working at the Boston Fed, I hope to enter a graduate program in economics.

Hannah Rhodenhiser

Research Department
Research Projects: minimum wages; labor supply, consumption; home equity borrowing; student loans; bank health, retirement assets

I am extremely well matched to my economists, Daniel Cooper and Giovanni Olivei. I work on a variety of data-driven research projects, primarily with large panel data such as the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the Survey of Income and Program Participation, and the Current Population Survey. As a Boston Fed RA, I have developed an abstract and tangible understanding of data and a fluency in code. My economists have facilitated the pace of my learning by filling in gaps in my knowledge without instilling a fear of making mistakes. I have also taken classes at MIT, thanks to the tuition reimbursement program and the input of my economists. My current life goals are to earn a PhD in economics and to run many marathons. My time as an RA has reaffirmed my interest in getting a PhD by giving me a full exposure to both the big picture of economic research and what is involved in the day-to-day work. The flexibility at the Boston Fed allows me to work early mornings when I will be most productive and helps me fit in running before sunset; this work-life balance benefits my future plans for all areas of my life.

Andrew Roberts

Supervision, Regulation, and Credit Department
Supervisory Research and Analysis Unit
Focus: quantifying the uncertainty in results of bank stress testing models

As an RA in the Supervisory Research and Analysis Unit, I have had the opportunity to work with a variety of quantitative analysts and economists. My role as a member of the Model Risk Management Group puts me in the unique position of being able to experience the wide scope of the Fed’s system of internal stress testing models.

Working at the Boston Fed has already provided me with many resources and experiences that will aide me going forward in my career. On a daily basis I am able to improve my skills in computer programing and statistical analysis, as well as gain comfort working with complicated, real-world data. Furthermore, the Fed’s tuition reimbursement program offers me the incredible opportunity to take classes relevant both to my work at the Bank and to a graduate degree I hope to pursue in the near future.

Thu Tran

Research Department
New England Public Policy Center
Focus: applied micro, labor economics, public economics
Research Projects: taxi labor supply discrimination; the link between immigration and inequality; the effect of raising larceny felony threshold

I joined the New England Public Policy Center in 2017, the summer after graduating from Mount Holyoke College. Working as a research assistant to Osborne Jackson, I have the opportunity to get involved in many challenging and relevant research projects in labor economics. I have enjoyed every stage of the research process, from literature review, data collection and analysis, to editing and revision. During my time at the Fed, I have become more comfortable in working with big data, and I have grown in my economic thinking, not only through research projects and weekly seminars, but also through insightful discussions with my colleagues. Furthermore, I love the collegial and supportive environment of the department: the people here have become my mentors and my friends. My experience here will definitely help shape my research interests and prepare me for graduate school, and I cannot recommend the Boston Fed's RA program enough to anyone who wants to gain more insights into economic research.

Xiyu Wang

Supervision, Regulation and Credit Department
Supervisory Research and Analysis Unit
Focus: finance; bank regulation; stress testing
Research Projects: econometrics; interbank networks; mortgage markets; standardized abnormal returns

I came to the Boston Fed after two years of working in the private sector as a data analyst and developer, and I am currently working with the economists in the Supervisory Research and Analysis Unit. Since I joined the Bank, I have had the chance to gain valuable experience working on research projects and policy briefs involving banking and the financial industry. These projects have involved data collecting, running simulations, reading the academic literature, and using statistical software for data analysis.

In addition to gaining an exposure to the research projects currently being conducted in finance, I have also attended research seminars from visiting presenters, attended training sessions on different tools used for research, and have met colleagues also interested in economics and research. The Boston Fed has been a very good learning environment, and even provides tuition reimbursement at local universities. As someone who is considering graduate school programs in the near future, the support and resources available here are invaluable.

Liang Zhang

Research Department
Focus: consumer payments; behavioral economics; household finance; financial technology
Research Projects: consumer payment choice; merchant steering; consumer expenditure; the influence of financial constraints on payment behavior.

I joined the research department of Boston Fed after receiving my BA in economics and mathematics from Wellesley College. As a Research Assistant, I work with senior economist and policy advisor Joanna Stavins on projects that focus on consumer payment behavior and household finance. Since I joined, I have gained substantial insights about economic research, developed statistical programming skills, and explored various topics in household finance and consumer behavior.

The Boston Fed is the perfect place to pursue my passion in economics. Here, I am able to work in a supportive environment, utilize academic resources and learn from world-renowned economists and aspiring fellow RAs. The learning curve has been quite steep and I benefit from gaining new knowledge and skills every day. In the future, I plan to pursue graduate school in economics.