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SYLFF Fellowship

Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund

The Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund was launched in 1987 by the Nippon Foundation (formerly, The Japan Shipbuilding Industry Foundation or The Sasakawa Foundation). The goal of the SYLFF Program is to nurture future leaders who will overcome geopolitical, religious, ethnic, and cultural boundaries and actively participate in the world community for peace and the well-being of humankind. Under the SYLFF Program, The Nippon Foundation has endowed one million dollars to each institutions of higher learning, from which fellowships are awarded to graduate students enrolled in social sciences and humanities fields. To date, endowments of one million dollars each have been presented to 69 universities and consortia in 44 countries. About 15,000 students have received fellowships since the launch of the program in 1987. These SYLFF Fellows have been active in a diversity of fields following their graduation. The Economics Department at the University of Michigan is honored to be a recipient of the SYLFF endowment.

As part of the SYLFF program, The Economics Department offers two different types of fellowships for students.   The first is used as a recruiting tool for incoming Ph.D. students. This fellowship offers students tuition, healthcare and a generous stipend to support them during the first full year as a graduate student in Economics. The second SYLFF Fellowship supports students who have reached Ph.D. candidacy. This one-term funding opportunity provides tuition, stipend and health insurance to provide a semester of dedicated research time to these students. Priority is given to students who are in the final stages of their dissertation research and plan to go on the job market within the next year.  A competition is held for both Fall and Winter semesters. For more information on this please contact the graduate coordinator.

Current SYLFF Fellows

Hayley Abourezk-Pinkstone

Hayley is an economics PhD student at the University of Michgian with an interest in studying microeconomic theory and applied microeconomics. Her research interests include many topics from game theory, labor economics, and the economics of education. Hayley also has experience with research in experimental game theory, and recently contributed to an economic history project that involved modeling and analyzing medival English grain markets. Hayley is from Ventura, CA and received her BA in mathetmatics and economics with a concentration in economic theory from Lewis & Clark College in May 2017.

Michael Finnegan

Michael Finnegan is a first-year Ph.D. student. He graduated summa cum laude from theUniversity of Alabama, where he simultaneously earned a B.S. in Economics and Mathematicsalong with an M.A. in Economics. His Master’s thesis was on identifying the origins of recentincreases of segregation within K-12 schools and was presented at the Urban Economic Association’s annual conference. Before coming to the University of Michigan, he was a Research Assistant at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, where he closely worked with both theory and data on a range of urban topics. His interests include topics such as the effects of productivity and amenity spillovers on the distribution of employment across major U.S. cities as well as the role of path dependence (as a result of historical race-based housing policies) in understanding contemporary neighborhood-level housing.

Luis Espinoza Bardales

Luis Espinoza is a Ph.D. in economics student at the University of Michigan. His main research interests are the process of economic structural transformation, both from a historical and a contemporary perspective, and how it can be (or cannot be) fostered by active industrial policies. Moreover, he is interested in the relationship between this process and economic inequality. Before coming to Michigan, Luis worked as a Growth Lab Research Fellow at the Center for International Development at Harvard University. He has also worked as a full-time teaching assistant at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, and as a research assistant at GRADE, a Peruvian think-tank based in Lima. He holds a BA in Economics (2007) and a Diploma in Applied Mathematics (2011) from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, and a Master in Public Administration in International Development (2014) from Harvard University.

Ana Paula Franco

Ana Paula Franco is a graduate student in Economics at the University of Michigan with interests in economic history, labor and development economics. Prior to starting at Michigan, Ana Paula worked as a research fellow at Evidence for Policy Design at the Harvard Kennedy School on projects related to microfinance in Asia. She also worked as a research assistant at Group for the Analysis of Development and Universidad del Pacifico in Lima, Peru, on projects related to labor markets and gender in Latin America. She holds a BA in Economics from Universidad del Pacifico and a MSc in Economics from University College London.

Ariza Gusti

Ariza Gusti is a PhD student in Economics at the University of Michigan. He is originally from Jakarta, Indonesia and came to the United States to pursue his undergraduate degree. He received a BS in Economics from the University of Minnesota. Currently, his research interests lie in the field of applied microeconomics and in particular development, public and labor
economics. His experience living a developing country stimulated his interest in economics and development economics in particular. In his spare time, Ariza is a big fan of sports and follows closely soccer, and basketball games. He also enjoys travelling and exploring new things, especially new cuisines.

Thomas Helgerman

Thomas Helgerman is a graduate student in economics at the University of Michigan with interests in applied microeconomics. As an undergraduate, he conducted research exploring the link between capital inflows and asset price booms. However, Thomas intends to move his focus during graduate study from international economics to labor economics. In particular, he has interests in several topics spanning the economics of education and the economics of gender and the family. Prior to beginning graduate studies at the University of Michigan, Thomas received a BS in Mathematics and Economics as well as a BA in Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh.

Nafisa Lohawala

Nafisa Lohawala is a new PhD student in economics at the University of Michigan with interests in development economics and labor economics. She received a BS-MS dual degree in Economics with a minor in Computer Science and Engineering (Algorithms) from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. In her master's thesis, she investigated the causal impact of sexual crimes on women's workforce participation in urban India using district-level panel data. Her other work involves a statistical analysis of England-Australia cricket rivalry through a production function approach in a discrete choice framework. She has also previously worked at the  University of Calgary, IIT Bombay and IIM Lucknow, on diverse research topics including energy transition and energy economics, regret matching in a Cournot game, and regression model comparisons.

Jennifer Mayo

Jennifer Mayo is a Ph.D. student in economics at the University of Michigan with interests in labour economics, public finance and economic history. Prior to starting at Michigan, she received a BSc in Economics from the University of Bristol, and an MSc in Economics from University College London. Jennifer previously worked at Cambridge Econometrics, the University of Bristol and the University of Michigan, where she was involved in research projects relating to teacher turnover, contact hours and class size at university, and political economy.

Zsigmond Palvolgyi

Zsigmond Pálvölgyi is a first year PhD student at the Department of Economics, University of Michigan with interests in Labor Economics and Public Finance. He recently graduated from Central European University (CEU), where he received
the Peter Hangartner Fellowship and the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award for his excellence in the Economics MA program. During the program he also worked as a research assistant for CEU Microdata. Prior his studies at CEU, he
gained research experience at the Central Bank of Hungary and at Századvég Economic Research Institute.

Tereza Ranosova

Tereza is a Ph.D. student in Economics at the University of Michigan. She graduated fromCharles University (Prague, Czech republic) in 2016, earning a Bc in Economics, and spent ayear as a Visiting Master’s student at a Ph.D. in Economics program at CERGE-EI, a joint workplaceof the Czech Academy of Sciences and Charles University. Throughout 2016 she workedas a teaching assistant and as a research assistant on a project investigating the relationshipsbetween exchange rates and non-price competitiveness of exports. Before CERGE she workedpart-time as a financial analyst in a commercial bank.In her undergraduate thesis she investigated the causes of occupational gender segregation.Utilizing the O*NET database she showed what makes a job in the Czech labor market predominantlymale or female. In Michigan she would like to continue exploring more topics ofempirical labor and international economics, as well as to delve deeper into economic theory.

Nikhil Rao

Nikhil Rao is a first-year PhD student in Economics. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2015 with a BA in Economics and Mathematics. Until recently, he was a Research Assistant at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Two broad topics of interest are: understanding the preferential sorting by gender into different fields of study and occupations as well as the selection out of the formal workforce; and understanding the extent to which social assistance programs and immigrant social networks aid immigrants’ economic and cultural integration.

James Reeves

James Reeves received a BA in Economics/Mathematics from Western Washington University and a MA in Economics from the University of Colorado Denver. Most recently, he was a research assistant in the Industrial Relations Section at Princeton University. His research interests are primarily in labor and public economics, with a specific focus on crime and the criminal justice system. Some of his current research projects explore gender gaps in career progression, the relationsip between federal tax credits and crime in low-income communities, and the role of housing ordinances in gentrification. 

Merve Sariisik

Merve is a  Ph.D. candidate in the Economics Department at the University of Michigan. Her research draws upon questions across and in the intersection of Labor and Behavioral Eco-nomics. Merve's interests involve transmission and processing of information, private information bargaining, inequality, and discrimination. She approaches through the lens of her background in Theory and Experimental Economics to tackle related questions. Currently she is working on the controversial "Salary History Ban" and its implications to various extents. Through a series of lab experiments, she investigating the employer side inference problem about applicant types as well as bargaining implications of Salary History Ban. Priorto starting her Ph.D., she received a B.A. in Economics at Boğaziçi (Bosphorus) University, İstanbul and M.A. in Economics at Sabancı University, İstanbul.

Notable SYLFF Fellows

Jordan Matsudaira, PhD (2005)  Dissertation: Essays in Labor and Family Economics

Melinda Miller, PhD (2008)  Dissertation: Essays on Race and the Persistence of Economics Inequality

SYLFF Fellows earning a PhD in Economics (in the past 8 years)

Kimberly Conlon, PhD (2020) Essays on Industrial Organization

Pieter De Vlieger, PhD (2020) Essays on Personnel and Health Economics

Huayu Xu, PhD (2020) Essays on Institutions and Development

Hang Yu, PhD (2020) Three Essays in Development Economics

Vybhavi Balasundharam, PhD (2019) Dissertation: Essays on Public Policy and Firm Behavior

Nicolas Morales, PhD (2019) Dissertation: Understanding the Flows of Goods and Workers: General Equilibrium Implications of Migration Policy

Max Risch, PhD (2019) Dissertation: Three Essays on Taxes, Public Policy and the Distribution of Income

Tejawsi Velayudhan, PhD (2019) Dissertation: Essays in Consumption Taxes and Development

Dimitrije Ruzic, PhD (2018) Dissertation: Essays on Firm Heterogeneity in Macroeconomics

Mike Zabek, PhD (2018) Dissertation: Essays on Places and Economic Inequality

Sreyoshi Das, PhD (2017) Dissertation: Essays in Financial Economics

Bryan Stuart, PhD (2017) Dissertation: Essays on the Long-Run Effects of Economic and Social Conditions

Lindsay Baker, PhD (2016) Dissertation: Breastfeeding in the United States: Economic Analyses of Trends and Policies

Nitya Pandalai Nayar, PhD (2016) Dissertation: Essays on Multinationals and International Spillovers

Christian Proebsting, PhD (2016) Dissertation: Essays in International Economics

Ryoko Sato, PhD (2015) Dissertation: Barriers to and Incentives for Health Behaviors among African Women

Anne Fitzpatrick, PhD (2015) Dissertation: Three Essays on Health and Development

Molly Saunders-Scott, PhD (2014) Three Essays on Profit Shifting

Evan Starr, PhD (2014) Three Essays on Covenants Not to Compete

Lin Ma, PhD (2014) Three Essays in International Trade and Macroeconomics

Catherine Ambler, PhD (2013) Dissertation: Essays on Houshold Economics and Remittances

Emily Beam, PhD (2013) Dissertation: Information and Labor Markets in the Philippines

Jessica Hoel, PhD (2013) Dissertation: Essays on Household Economics in Kenya

Christian Gillitzer, PhD (2013) Dissertation: Essays in Macroeconomics and Public Finance

Noah Smith, PhD (2012)  Dissertation: Essays on Expectations