Founded to honor the life of Kabir Banerjee, this predoctoral fellowship is an initiative by the Weiss Fund for Research in Development Economics that seeks to expand the representation of researchers from low and lower-middle income countries in leading academic programs in development economics. The Fellowship supports candidates with substantial interest and potential for success in an academic career in development economics who otherwise may have limited access to mentorship and training from leading economists.
The Weiss Fund sponsors Kabir Banerjee Predoctoral Fellows admitted into pre-approved two-year predoctoral positions in leading institutions. Predoctoral programs are intended to serve as a bridge between college and graduate school for students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. Kabir Banerjee Predoctoral Fellows work directly with some of the world’s leading development economists. Launched in 2022, this annual Fellowship works with leading academic institutions to facilitate the hiring of promising applicants.
The Weiss Fund extends congratulations to the finalists of its second Kabir Banerjee Predoctoral Fellowship cohort!
The Weiss Fund is endorsing 23 Fellowship Finalists. Those Finalists that go on to be hired will become Kabir Banerjee Predoctoral Fellows.
This year, the Fellowship received more than 100 applications from eligible candidates in 32 countries. Applicants were required to have a Secondary, Bachelor’s, or Master’s degree from an institution in a low- or lower-middle income country, as well as working proficiency in English. Preferred areas of study included Mathematics, Statistics, Engineering, Computer Science, Economics, or related disciplines with an emphasis on quantitative analysis. Each application was assessed on technical skills, motivation, and alternative access for mentorship.
After an intensive vetting process, 23 candidates earned the endorsement of the Weiss Fund to apply to predoctoral positions with leading economists that have served on the Weiss Fund Committee.
The 23 Fellowship Finalists from the class of 2023 come from 11 countries in Central, South, East Asia and the Pacific, the Middle East, and sub-Saharan Africa. Most of these candidates were in the top 10% of their class and obtained an average GRE quantitative score of 166 out of 170. Finalists went through a highly competitive vetting process over the course of four months and showed enormous promise to contribute academically to the field of development economics.
Mochamad Thoriq Akbar
Nishat Akter Juy
Jieun Elizabeth Cha Park
Ademola Abiodun Saheed
Fatima Tuz Zohra
Apollinaire is a research associate at Equitech Futures, where he is working on a project that studies financial inclusion and mobile money usage in Togo. He intends to develop an empirically-based and experimental approach to answering questions in development economics. His current research interests include education, financial inclusion, technology-use, inequality, and social justice. Apollinaire received a Bachelor’s degree with honors in Mathematics from Ashoka University, where he also studied Economics and Computer Science.
Mochamad Thoriq Akbar
Mochamad Thoriq Akbar is a Senior Research Associate at J-PAL Southeast Asia where he works on an initiative in promoting MSMEs growth. Prior to joining J-PAL in 2021, he worked at Center for Indonesia’s Strategic Development Initiatives where he managed an impact evaluation project on health worker team-based deployment in several primary healthcare centers in Jakarta and Bandung.
Thoriq received his bachelor’s degree in Economics from the Padjadjaran University with a Bidikmisi Scholarship. In 2019, he was awarded as the most outstanding student on the faculty. Thoriq is Interested in development economics issues such as inequality, social protection, education, and health.
Muskan was a Research Intern at the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and the Observer Research Foundation (ORF). Most recently, she assisted Dr Tista Kundu on the Inequality of Opportunity in India project at Centre de Sciences Humaines. Her current research interests include education, gender, and experimental economics. She completed a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Gargi College, University of Delhi and a Master’s degree in Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Sciences as a JN Tata Scholar.
Taha Barwahwala is a Senior Data Research Associate at J-PAL South Asia where he is exploring the effectiveness of machine learning methods applied to administrative data with the ‘Innovations in Data and Experiments for Action (IDEA)’ initiative. His area of focus is taxation capacity under India’s GST ecosystem. Through data-driven research, Taha wants to identify and advocate for policy interventions that boost productivity in urban settings through better service provision, increased state capacity and efficient governance. Prior to joining J-PAL in 2020, he was a data engineer at a private sector bank. Taha is a Bachelor of Technology graduate in Engineering Physics with a minor in Mathematics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati.
Diydor is a research associate at the Institute for Macroeconomic and Regional Studies in Uzbekistan. He has previously partnered with UNICEF on a national child poverty assessment project and currently serves as a Co-PI on a World Bank-funded project with the objective of developing a Child Wellbeing Index for Uzbekistan. Diydor has conducted multidimensional poverty studies in the field, aiming to understand people’s perceptions of poverty. His main interests revolve around early development issues, multidimensional poverty, survey design, and impact evaluations. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Economics from the University of World Economy and Diplomacy, and an MA in Economic Governance and Development from the OSCE Academy in Bishkek.
Manasi is a graduate student at the Paris School of Economics. Her research interests lie at the intersection of Health and Gender Economics. She is also interested in studying the evolution of societal attitudes and social and transport networks. She has previously worked as a credit risk analyst at Wells Fargo and interned at the French Ministry of Labor.
Uelunzaya works as a researcher at the Mongolian Economic Analysis and Research Center. She had a wide range of professional experience in the private sector including mining, media, and banking before changing her career direction to a research and consulting services sector. She is passionate about development economics and determined to fight poverty through her work. Her research interests lie in women’s labor market participation and childcare related fields. She aims to promote evidence-based policy making by offering evidence derived from her research and analysis to policymakers. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Business Administration from the American University in Bulgaria.
Govind is a research associate at J-PAL, working on an experimental study about maternity career-breaks. After working as a researcher assisting policymaking at the Parliament of India and then as a management-consultant advising implementation for a state-government, he aspires to pursue research informing policy-innovations. Govind’s experience in the administrative machinery and field exposed him to critical gaps. He learnt how intervention design needs to link well with implementation and public uptake. Finding mere intuition about solutions to be limiting, he became convinced of engaging with issues in development through the rigour of academia. Using toolkits of economics, he is enthused about research which explore binding constraints, incentives, and their aggregation. Govind received his baccalaureate from Hansraj College, Delhi University.
Mehedi works as a research assistant at ARCED Foundation, where he is proactively working on projects related to air pollution and reporting systems in garment factories. Mehedi’s research interests encompass various aspects of development economics, with a focus on poverty and inequality, health, education, and migration. He recently earned a Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in finance and minor in economics from Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka.
Gideon Ihuarulam comes from Nigeria Imo State. He graduated from Anchor University in the year 2020 with a first-class degree in economics. Gideon aspires to study developmental economics and carry out research into reasons why the third world, specifically West Africa, is far off from its European and Asian counterparts, despite receiving considerably more resources for specific projects aimed at bridging this gap. He previously worked with the United Nations, Multinational and Local companies alike, in positions ranging from junior fellow researcher to data analyst.
Ananya is currency a research associate at the Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics. Her interests include the macroeconomics of developing countries, dissecting issues of measurement, keeping up with causal inference literature, and examining issues on gender. She is also interested in the pursuit of academic communication that is accessible, engaging, and open source. She recently graduated with a Master’s degree from the Delhi School of Economics, prior to which she obtained her BA Honours in Economics from St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi.
Nishat Akter Juy
Nishat is currently working as a Consultant at Columbia Business School (CBS). Previously she worked at Innovations for Poverty Action as a Research Associate for three years, where she supported several experimental and quasi-experimental studies namely on education, employment local environmental risks, and health care. She spent another year at the NGO Forum for Public Health as a Consultant and helped to manage data flow and implement randomized control trials. She completed Bachelor in Urban and Regional Planning from the Rajshahi University of Engineering and Technology, Bangladesh. Her lived experience in an underdeveloped community mostly inspired her to find resolutions for socio-economic challenges. She is primarily interested in labor economics, weak state capacity, and poverty alleviation.
Dennis is a Data Analyst with over seven years of experience. He has a genuine passion for unraveling insights from data and loves diving deep into complex datasets. Throughout his career, he has dedicated himself to helping organizations gain a deeper understanding of their data to make well-informed decisions. His skill set covers many areas, including research design, advanced data analysis, machine learning model development, and data visualization.
He has significantly contributed to various sectors, working with research consultancies, non-profit organizations, and the United Nations. He is enthusiastic about using research and data to improve life quality and drive positive change.
Dennis is pursuing a Master’s in Data Analytics and holds an undergraduate in Statistics.
Amit Khanal, from Butwal, Nepal, completed his Bachelor of Science in Economics with a minor in Mathematics from Lehigh University. Interested in development economics and behavioral economics, he wants to pursue PhD after gaining research experience as a Predoctoral Fellow. Previously, he has worked as an Undergraduate Research Assistant at Stereotyping and Social Interactions Lab at Lehigh University where he was a part of a team that studied how stereotyping in social interaction affects marginalized communities in academic environments. For independent research, he has worked on the issues of gender inequality and lack of access to health services in Nepal. In his free time, he likes to catch up with Econ Twitter.
Tarun is currently working with one of India’s leading policy research think thank towards the objective of making climate transition just and equitable. His long-term goal is to take the amalgamation of climate change and development forward through his independent, yet integrated and scientifically rigorous research. As a Kabir Banerjee fellow, he aims to (a) understand and contribute to the existing knowledge on the role of political economy institutions in determining India’s hitherto growth path, and (b) offer policy-relevant recommendations around recalibrating these institutions to respond to the imminent developmental challenges posed by climate change.
Hussein Moussa is graduating with a dual degree in Economics and Applied Mathematics from the American University of Beirut (AUB), with minors in statistics and Arabic literature. His broad research interests span across development and experimental economics and leveraging machine learning tools to tackle socioeconomic challenges, especially in the global south where data-driven policies have become increasingly important. Hussein is also intrigued by other fields such as the economics of gender and behavioral economics. Through his research experiences at AUB, Hussein has explored work in the topics of mathematical modeling of pandemics and development economics.
Looking ahead, Hussein aspires to pursue a Ph.D. in economics and contribute to the advancement of the global south. In his free time, he enjoys reading novels and writing Arabic poetry.
Sahil is working as an associate at Acasus, a development consultancy committed to improving health and educational outcomes in developing countries. Prior to joining Acasus, he was working as a RA at IFC in their Development Impact team where he devised a theory of change on how climate financing leads to improvement in environmental outcomes. Sahil’s research interests lie at the intersection of development, macro, environmental economics and public-finance. He enjoys harnessing the power of data, econometrics, and programming tools to address questions that fall within his realm of research interests. Sahil is a Fulbright scholar with a MA degree in Economics from New York University (NYU). Prior to that, he completed his BSc (Hons) degree in Economics from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).
Shakhzod is a lecturer in Research at the Westminster International University in Tashkent. Prior to joining academia, he served as an economist and researcher at the Ministry of Economic Development and the Ministry of Finance, Uzbekistan. Shakhzod’s major research interest is development economics with a strong emphasis on inclusive institutions and human capital. He advocates for the importance of quality education for the long-run growth. Shakhzod got his BSc and MSc degrees in economics from the University of Westminster.
Ayesha works as a National Expert in Research and M&E at SPPS project UNDP Bangladesh, with over ten years of experience in research and development. She specializes in quality research, multi-agency coordination, and disaster risk insurance schemes in social protection. Ayesha has worked on climate budget and climate fiscal framework. She has authored book chapters on climate change and sustainability. She is currently working on identifying shock-responsive social protection models in urban settings of Bangladesh and a non-state actor report in social protection. Ayesha is passionate about development economics and poverty alleviation, social safety net initiatives and eradication of extreme poverty. Her other interests are sustainability and climate Change. Ayesha holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the Department of Economics at the University of Dhaka, an MSc in Urban Management and Development from the Erasmus University, Rotterdam. She completed training programs on disaster risk reduction, climate change, gender, and female migrants’ livelihoods in Asian cities, focusing on improving food and water security. She excels in diverse learning experiences, focusing on economic development and environmental change using panel, spatial, and experimental data.
Jieun Elizabeth Cha Park
Born in Thailand and raised in Indonesia, Jieun’s work revolves around a question whether opportunities contribute to self-empowerment of individuals in developing countries. She is a founding member of crowdfunding platform providing scale-up opportunities for social entrepreneurs, which inspired her to consult their self-assessment as well as visualization with enhanced public data and statistics, at National Institute of Forest Science and UN Women. Such efforts were supported via social entrepreneurship promotion awards by government of Korea and Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning fellowship from D-Lab of MIT. Broadly, she is interested in belief formation processes in labor and leisure decisions under strategic social interactions within household and informal labor markets. She holds master’s in Economics from University of Essex, Bachelor’s in International Studies (Economics) and English Literature from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.
Ademola Abiodun Saheed
Ademola Abiodun Saheed, a native of Nigeria’s southwest, holds an impressive educational background. He obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Statistics from the University of Ilorin in Nigeria, followed by a Master of Science degree in Mathematical Science from the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Cameroon. Additionally, he completed an African Master’s degree in Machine Intelligence from the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Senegal.
With a keen interest in development economics, Ademola focuses his efforts on comprehending the application of machine learning and artificial intelligence in predicting and addressing multidimensional poverty in underdeveloped and developing countries. He firmly believes in the potential of these technologies to break the cycle of poverty.
Ademola Abiodun Saheed is enthusiastic about participating in initiatives related to machine learning and its utilization in the field of development economics.
Rachna is currently working as a Deputy Commissioner for the Government of India in the field of indirect taxation. With experience in both policy formulation and its on-ground execution, she wants to further explore the impact of data driven policy making, execution and monitoring, especially in the field of taxation. Her other interests include sustainability, education, women empowerment and good governance, all tied up through a passion for lifelong learning. She is an alumnus of Delhi College of Engineering (India) and Carnegie Mellon University (US). She also holds a Data, Economics, and Development Policy MicroMasters through online mode from MIT and is currently enrolled in a distance learning course on Business Laws from NLSUI.
Fatima Tuz Zohra
Zohora has quite a few years of working experience in her home country, Bangladesh, after having her Bachelor’s in Mathematics and MBA in Finance from the University of Dhaka. Though she started in the commercial financing industry, eventually, her interest got driven toward Development Finance. Lately, she has worked for the research organization, Institute for Inclusive Finance and Development and completed the online MicroMasters program in Data, Economics, and Development Policy offered by MIT. Her interest covers a broad area, including the impact of mobile banking and agent banking in an underdeveloped/developing economy, creating an enabling environment for micro, small and medium enterprises, behavioral insights in policy formulation, and so forth. She loves to play with data and look into causal relation between two seemingly correlated variables. Also, she possesses a keen interest in mathematical modeling in Economics. Zohora aspires to pursue a Ph.D. in Development Economics and be a significant part of the policy world of developing countries.
Daniela Pinto Veizaga
Omar Zahid Mirza
Shakil Rahman Ayan
Shihas Abdul Razak
Ayushree works as a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group. She is interested in working in development economics, especially economics of education in India. Working with underprivileged children as an undergraduate student helped her develop an interest in this area. Her secondary interest lies in peer effects and social learning. She completed an undergraduate degree in Economics and Mathematics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.
Daniela Pinto Veizaga
Daniela is a Data Science for Social Good Fellow at the University of Warwick, UK, a program funded by The Alan Turing Institute and Microsoft. She works alongside UNICEF and Save the Children using ML and AI methods to predict multidimensional child poverty in developing countries. She is an experienced Data Scientist that has aided NGOs and government agencies to resolve data quality issues and prioritize evidence-based decision-making through ML solutions. Her research focuses on understanding and solving public policy problems such as unemployment and misinformation through quantitative-qualitative high-impact methods. Daniela is a Master’s candidate for a double degree in Data Science and applied Economics (ITAM). Previously, she completed undergraduate studies in Law and Economic Theory.
Besindone’s research interests include education and urbanization as they relate to opportunity disparities in the developing world. She is also interested in economic history and governance in Africa. She recently earned a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Economics from the University of Alberta.
Hasan works as a Research Associate at BRAC James P. Grant School of Public Health in Bangladesh. He is working on several RCT projects aimed to address mental health and environmental issues under the supervision of Professor Atonu Rabbani. Prior to joining BRAC JPGSPH, Hasan worked as a Research Associate at the Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP). Hasan is keen to work at the intersection of development, behavioral, environmental, and health economics. He has strong quantitative knowledge, excellent programming skills, and exceptional field management experience. He completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from the Department of Economics at the University of Dhaka. In his leisure time, he likes to play online Chess.
Jean-Baptiste is a research associate at IPA Francophone West Africa. Previously, he worked as an economist and statistician at the Ministry of Agriculture of Burkina Faso. Jean-Baptiste is interested in development economics and, more specifically, in agricultural finance. He believes that specific financial products for the rural population are critical in mitigating their risks (droughts, floods, prices), investing more in their farms, and improving their livelihoods. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the University of Ouagadougou and completed a degree in Statistics and Applied Economics at the Graduate School of Statistics and Applied Economics of Abidjan.
Luong works as a researcher at the Development and Policies Research Center in Hanoi, Vietnam. She is passionate about development economics and is particularly interested in learning about the lives of the poor and ways to alleviate poverty. She also takes a great interest in learning about and doing research that uses experimental methodologies and behavioral insights to answer questions in development economics. Her goal is to pursue a Ph.D. in economics. Luong received a Bachelor’s degree in economics from Foreign Trade University. In her free time, she likes to read and write book reviews.
Muhammad Bashir was born in a small village in rural Punjab and was the first in his family to attend school. He is interested in understanding informality and its relationship with government capacity and development outcomes. He loves to collaborate on projects involving big data and machine learning and its applications in development and public economics. Muhammad completed his undergraduate in Economics and Mathematics from SBASSE, LUMS, Lahore on a National Outreach Program Scholarship. He then completed a Master’s in Economics from the University of Manchester. At Manchester, he was mentored by Dr. Mazhar Waseem, who has had a great influence on Muhammad’s research interests and professional development.
Omar Zahid Mirza
Omar works as a research associate for the project, ”Pygmalion effects and classroom networks: Evidence from Schools in Pakistan” where he is exploring how delivering teachers expectations impacts student outcomes. Omar also has experience working in the energy sector for the project “Short Term Load Forecasting of Pakistani Households.” Omar is a firm believer in value addition, and the prospect of him being a change agent excites him the most, especially when it comes to contributing positively to society. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business/Social Sciences from The University of London International Programmes and a Master’s degree in Economics from the Lahore University of Management Sciences. His thesis was titled “The Impact of Covid -19 Lockdown on Air Quality.”
Pushyami has worked as a research assistant across projects in India and the United States. Most recently, her RA work analyzed nighttime satellite imagery to answer questions tied to the availability and consistency of electricity in the event of natural calamities such as cyclones. Her independent research has looked at the benefits of rural road construction in India, such as greater infrastructure resiliency after cyclones. Her interests lie at the nexus of economic development and environmental change. She holds a Bachelor’s in economics from Miranda House, University of Delhi, and a Master’s in International and Development Economics from Yale University.
Sanjog is interested in political development, experimental economics, and complex systems and networks. He has worked with panel, spatial, and experimental data, and likes to keep himself updated about various developments in impact evaluation methods. Currently, he would like to pursue a predoctoral position before applying to Ph.D. programs in order to gain first hand research experience and come up with research problems to tackle. He aspires to build a career in academia and hopes to contribute to research literature in a cross-disciplinary manner. Sanjog is an economics graduate from Delhi School of Economics.
Shakil Rahman Ayan
Shakil worked as an Assistant Research Coordinator at BRAC University, Bangladesh, for a large-scale randomized control trial on reducing intimate partner violence through media campaigns. His current research interests include development economics and experimental economics. Shakil is from Dhaka, Bangladesh, and continues to maintain strong ties with his maternal and paternal hometown, Bhandaria: a small town in rural Bangladesh. He earned a Bachelor’s in economics with a minor in finance from McGill University.
Shashank aspires to pursue a career in development policy research after graduate studies. His areas of interest include economic history, political economy of development, governance and social policy – wherein he is particularly interested in research focusing on the Indian subcontinent. He has previously worked as a researcher on the FUSE Survey Project at the Gokhale Institute and as a research intern at the Good Business Lab. He recently completed a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune.
Shihas Abdul Razak
Shihas is currently with the Busara Center for Behavioral Economics. Previously, he has been associated with various research and policy institutions, including the Reserve Bank of India, the Kerala State Planning Board, and IIM Bangalore. His research interests primarily include development, social mobility, and political economy. Shihas has done his education at MES Ponnani College and the Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, India.