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At the Forefront of Economics Margaret Kallus ’19 will be the second W&L alumna to join a team of economists at the Harvard University research institute, Opportunity Insights.

Margaret Kallus ’19 has earned a prestigious research position at Opportunity Insights, a Harvard University based research institute led by economists Raj Chetty, John Friedman, and Nathaniel Hendren, that seeks to revive the American dream by empowering families throughout the United States to rise out of poverty, leading to better life outcomes.

“For someone wanting to pursue a Ph.D. in economics, this position is as good as it gets,” said Associate Professor of Economics Katie Shester. “They often receive approximately 600 applications for about eight positions, and all of those 600 applicants are interested in going to graduate school. This is an incredibly prestigious position.”

Opportunity Insights’ team of researchers and policy analysts work together to analyze new data and create a platform for local stakeholders to make more informed decisions. Their research results have appeared in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal and have been cited in policy discussions, including the President’s State of the Union Address.

Margaret originally had no interest in economics but discovered her excitement for the discipline during her sophomore year. After coming across the job on the National Bureau of Economic Research’s website, Margaret submitted her application online. The process began with a data test to demonstrate skills, such as coding style and data visualization experience.

Following the test, Margaret participated in two rounds of interviews with economists and research assistants working on the project.

For the first time, W&L will have two alumnae working in this prestigious role. Amanda (Mandie) Wahlers ’18 will be heading into her second year of the fellowship when Margaret joins Opportunity Insights this summer. Mandie and her team are currently preparing and analyzing several datasets for an upcoming project that seeks to investigate the role of colleges as a pathway to upward mobility.

“Mandie started working on the project last year and was really friendly, helpful, and supportive throughout the application process,” said Margaret. “I also cannot thank Professor Shester and Professor Chris Handy enough. Their advice, support, candor, and encouragement helped me put my best foot forward.”

Mandie believes it’s a credit to the investment that W&L professors make in each student that she and Margaret will be working at Opportunity Insights together next year. “It has been an opportunity to gain exposure to rigorous research at the forefront of economics on a full-time basis,” she said. “I have learned a ton directly from my contributions to the project and through the time I spend tackling challenges with my fellow predoctoral fellows.”

Margaret will be missed in her research assistant position at W&L. “Margaret has tremendous intellectual curiosity that drives a genuine enthusiasm for research. She is destined for great things. We’ll also miss her wide-ranging anecdotes and quick wit,” said Assistant Professor of Economics Chris Handy.

Following her two-year appointment at Opportunity Insights, Margaret plans to attend graduate school in economics.

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Margaret Kallus '19

More about Margaret

Hometown: Montgomery, NY

Majors: Mathematics and Economics

What’s your favorite place to eat in Lexington and what do you order?

Napa Thai, I love the green curry.

Favorite class?

Professor Shester’s urban economics class, Professor Handy’s labor economics class, and econometrics with Professor Anderson are a few of my favorites; I definitely can’t narrow it down to one.

What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you?

Senator John McCain once told me a joke on a train!