Postdoctoral Scholars

Isabel Macdonald

Isabel Macdonald is a postdoctoral researcher at LIFT. She focuses on the impact of technology on financial inclusion and education. Her current research explores how crypto wallets can support remittances to high inflation countries, how social stigmas and trust challenge mobile money usage in Kenya and Uganda, and how low-cost technologies can help students catch up after COVID-19 school closures in Pakistan. Isabel received her PhD in Public Policy from Harvard University.

Joaquín A. Urrego, PhD

Joaquín A. Urrego

Joaquin is a postdoctoral scholar at UC Berkeley. He is an Urban Economist, and his research focuses on spatial patterns of urban development, commercial activity, and criminal and police behavior. His current research explores neighborhood effects of slum upgrading in Chile, the cost of the drugs war in Mexico on labor outcomes, and long-term effects of police bias perception on minority-owned small establishments. Joaquin received his Ph.D. in Economics from Syracuse University.

Alex Wellsjo

Alex Wellsjo is a postdoctoral researcher at LIFT. Her research covers topics in applied microeconomics, with a focus on questions relating to health and household finance. In her current research, she explores the role of habits in hospital hand hygiene, the impacts of telemedicine, how setting goals can change behavior, and the effect of macroeconomic experiences on homeownership. Alex received her PhD in Economics from UC Berkeley.

Predoctoral Students

Jerry Zhu

Zhaolong (Jerry) Zhu

Zhaolong (Jerry) Zhu is predoctoral research fellow at the Haas School of Business. He graduated from UC Berkeley with a dual degree in Environmental Economics and Policy, and Statistics. Jerry has been engaged in a number of research projects including the economic impacts of electricity outages, COVID related social
distancing policies, as well as the impact of entrepreneurship and leadership training on business outcomes. Jerry’s responsibilities include supporting research design and implementation, overseeing data collection and analysis, and managing research activities. Jerry’s academic interests lie in applied microeconomics, econometrics, environmental economics, field experiments, and policy design. Jerry aims to pursue a PhD and use economic tools to better inform policymaking.

Piero Zanocco

Piero Zanocco

Piero Zanocco is a predoctoral research fellow at the Haas School of Business. His interests range from microeconomics, econometrics, development economics and public policy. His work has been framed in collaborations with government agencies in Chile to evaluate policy impact in achieving development goals and building rigorous evidence to ultimately inform policy decisions. His research is currently focused on public procurement efficiency, the use low-cost technologies supporting agency practices within organizations, and the role of organizational culture in technology adoption. Piero received his Master’s in Economics from the University of Chile.

Masters Students

Gufran Pathan

Gufran Pathan

Gufran Pathan is a graduate student at the Goldman School of Public Policy and UC Berkeley where he is pursuing a Master’s in Development Practice. He has over seven years of professional work experience working as a data scientist in the finance and tech industry. His research interests are in studying poverty traps and how they relate to credit, education, and the psychology of poverty. He is also interested in the application of machine learning methods.

Jonathan Chang

Jonathan Chang

Jonathan Chang is a Master’s of Development Practice (MDP) student at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. He is primarily interested in M&E and the randomized evaluation of public policies and programs. His past experience includes working for the Aga Khan Development Network in Central Asia and for software firms in Boston and the SF Bay Area. Jonathan completed his undergraduate studies at Yale University.


Pulkit Bhasin

Pulkit Bhasin is a junior at UC Berkeley majoring in Computer Science. Throughout his life, Pulkit has strived towards examining and unlocking the interdisciplinary applications of computer programming to inspire positive socioeconomic change. He is particularly passionate about the applications of Quantitative Finance, Financial Technologies, and Blockchain Development, which he continues to explore academically and professionally.

Parth Asawa

Parth Asawa

Parth Asawa is a freshman at UC Berkeley’s Management, Entrepreneurship, and Technology (MET) Program where he is pursuing a dual degree in EECS and Business Administration. Parth has been engaged in Personal Finance Education and Advocacy over the past four years, writing, teaching, and speaking in the field. His academic interests lie in Machine Learning, Software Engineering, and Mathematics, and he is interested in exploring the field of Fintech through both research and industry more in the future.

Khankamol Chor

Khankamol Chor Kongrukgreatiyos is a Sophomore studying Computer Science and Statistics at UC Berkeley. Beyond pursuing a career as a software engineer, she is enthusiastic about data and design. Her interests in FinTech and desire to create a meaningful impact through research motivated her to join LIFT.

Lisha Zhai

Lisha Zhai is a third-year student studying data science and economics at the University of California, Berkeley. Her interest in machine learning, methodology for research, and intention for going into grad school prompted her to join LIFT. She is very excited to learn from her director and peers at LIFT to develop her research skills.

Michelle Lin

Michelle Lin is a UC Berkeley junior majoring in Data Science and Statistics. Michelle is passionate about applying data science skills to predict individual preferences in economics. She intends to pursue a master’s degree in data science with economics as her academic concentration. Her interest in behavioral science, financial technology, and economic phenomena in society inspired her to join LIFT, and she hopes to gain more domain knowledge through this research experience!

Rania Nasser

Rania Nasser is a Sophomore at UC Berkeley where she intends to major in Economics and Data Science. Rania has academic passions for business, data analytics, and mathematics. Her interest in developmental economics and computer science inspired her to join LIFT where she hopes to expand her FinTech knowledge through research.

Siddhant Satapathy

Siddhant is a third-year undergraduate at Berkeley majoring in Computer Science and History. His primary interest is in the mass adoption of blockchain, including identifying opportunities for the deployment of innovative financial primitives to real-world problems. He has significant experience in blockchain development in industry, and he is extensively involved in blockchain education by teaching courses offered through Blockchain@Berkeley, the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, and Berkeley RDI.