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Michael W

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)




I am a economics PhD student at MIT, with a love for combining data, mathematical modeling, and natural experiments to understand how incentives shape human behavior in markets and organizations. My current research projects study how the rise of outsourcing changes the careers of low-skill service workers, how small behavioral biases can amplify political polarization, and how the introduction of money changes an online bartering platform. I grew up in Hong Kong, a place that remains extremely dear to my heart. I completed my undergraduate degree at Harvard, majoring in physics and minoring computer science. I then spent time as a management consultant before I landed a dream job at UChicago as a full-time economics researcher. I also enjoy making music, reading history, pottery, and yoga.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Analyze an economic issue of your choice!

Economics is the study of who gets what and why. Come to me with a few topics you might be interested in: income inequality, gender, race, education, family, technological change, policy, international trade, poverty in developing countries, financial markets, or [insert the blank]. Together, I'll help you formulate a concrete research or policy question. You'll read up on cutting-edge research on the topic, do some investigation yourself, and write up your own answer to the question. On the way, I'll teach you frameworks that economists use to analyze social phenomena and train you to think like an economist.

Do some quantitative social science research!

Do you love numbers and graphs, and have experience with programming? Let's learn about human behavior from a publicly available data set for a topic of your choice. You will learn about how to formulate a research question, work with the data, make plots, make inference, and ask follow-up questions. You'll write this up in a short academic paper describing your analysis.

Coding skills

Stata, R, Python, Matlab

Languages I know


Teaching experience

I've taught students of many different ages in classrooms at Harvard and MIT, and also in Hong Kong, mainland China, and Boston's Chinatown. These including middle schoolers, high schoolers, undergraduates, grad students, as well as executive MBAs. I've also advised projects for class. I love teaching and seeing my students grow!


Work experience

University of Chicago (2013 - 2015)
Research Assistant


Harvard University
BA Bachelor of Arts (2019)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate

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