Reece Branham

Jan. 31, 2023

Reece learned coding and data analysis as an inaugural member of the department’s Research Internships in Data Analysis and Applied Economics

In the Fall of 2022, seven undergraduate students participated in a research internship experience in the Applied International Development Economics (AIDE) Lab, sponsored by the Resilience Internships and Student Experience (RISE) Program. The internship fostered an environment of collaboration, in which students led, directed, and produced original research on household resilience. An ongoing program, the internship is intended to expand students’ understanding of data analytics and causal inference, while cultivating and encouraging peer collaboration and independent research experience. Beyond gaining in-demand skills for the workforce, the students were exposed to the oft messy realities of real-world research.

The internship is guided by faculty, including Drs. April Athnos, Anna Josephson, and Jeffrey D. Michler, and led day-to-day by MSc student Lorin Rudin-Rush. Lorin instructed the interns in the statistical methods necessary to analyze the research questions of interest and provided direct assistance in coding the analyses and figures for the project. The interns were also trained in practices that encourage transparent and reproducible research, like GitHub version control and consistent style for code. Overall, the internship experience allowed the students to sample what a career in research is like. The interns learned more about the sometimes frustrating, but ultimately rewarding research process.

One of the interns was Reece Branham, who is graduating in 2023 with a B.S. in Business Economics and a B.A. in French. Reece was unfamiliar with Agricultural and Resource Economics as a discipline, and in this internship explored potential topics for post-graduate education, and furthered her skills in data analysis.

In Reece’s words:

My experience as an intern with the AIDE Lab helped me to achieve my personal and academic goals. Through my work, I was introduced to statistical software and how to use programs such as Stata to perform data analysis. Not only did my peers and I learn how to use Stata, but we developed a deeper understanding of regression analysis and causal inference. After graduation I have plans to become a data analyst, so it is great to have these skills under my belt. It was a goal of mine to gain experience as a data analyst before I graduate this semester, and I’m grateful I had the opportunity to do so with the AIDE Lab!

Before this internship, I was unfamiliar with the Agricultural and Resource Economics department. Being introduced to AREC helped guide my academic plans. As an economics major, I knew I wanted to further my education, but I wasn’t sure what direction to go in. It turned out that AREC encapsulates my interest in economics, agriculture, and the environment, and I’m glad I had a chance to work in this department before deciding on a master’s program. But beyond my interest in AREC, the skills I gained from this internship will be applicable to my future career and has proven to be helpful in my econometric coursework.