Visiting Scholars, 2016–2017

IRP-Supported Visiting Scholars

Visiting Scholars from Underrepresented Groups

Jamein P. Cunningham

Jamein P. Cunningham

Jamein P. Cunningham is a tenure track Assistant Professor of Economics at Portland State University. He will be in residence at IRP the week of October 3, 2016, and present a seminar on October 6 on "The Language of the Unheard: Legal Services & the 1960s Race Riots."

Cunningham earned a Ph.D. from the Department of Economics in 2014 and was a Population Studies Center Graduate Trainee at the University of Michigan. His field of specialization is labor economics with a research interest in demography, crime, and poverty. These interests are reflected in his research projects, focusing on economics of law, crime, and social capital. These projects not only reflect work in his primary field but also include urban economics and economic history as a manner of contextualization.

A working paper, for example, "The Language of the Unheard: Legal Services and the 1960s Race Riots," examines the impact of the introduction of federally funded legal services on community policing and riot propensities. The research design takes advantage of the differential timing of the implementation of the Legal Services Program (LSP) in cities across the United States and uses the location of law schools as an instrumental variable to provide evidence of a causal relationship.

Cunningham's current interest focuses on the impact of historical structures and institutions during the 1960s and 1970s on the everyday lives of those living in poverty. In particular, he focuses on the expansion and availability of legal aid for the indigent. Availability of legal aid has far-reaching implications on the welfare of those living in poverty. Affected areas include: welfare recipients, divorce, evictions, and changes in debt repayment, which can greatly change the economic outlook of an individual and a community. His research attempts to estimate first- and second-order effects of the availability of legal aid on the welfare of the poor and provide short- and long-term estimates on outcomes that influence the quality of life.

Cunningham is the recipient of the Rackham Merit Fellowship and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute in Child Health and Development Fellowship.

Tashara M. Leak

Tashara M. Leak

Tashara M. Leak is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), School of Public Health. She will be in residence at IRP during the week of April 3, 2017, and will present a seminar on April 6.

Leak earned a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (UMN) in 2015, where she researched the feasibility and effectiveness of behavioral economics-informed strategies to increase home dinner vegetable intake among low-income children (9 to 12 year). Caregivers self-reported being the primary food preparer, but anecdotal evidence suggested that older adolescents may also have household cooking responsibilities. To explore this further, Leak applied for and received a competitive grant from the UMN Healthy Foods Healthy Lives Institute. Findings suggest that older adolescent siblings residing in low-income households may play a significant role in home food preparation and thus may need to be involved in future home diet-related interventions.

Currently Leak is a postdoctoral scholar at UC Berkeley where she is continuing to examine socioeconomic disparities in child and adolescent dietary behaviors, as well as exploring ways in which behavioral economics can improve these behaviors. For example, she is conducting secondary analyses of the 10-year National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Growth and Health Study (NGHS) to examine longitudinal associations between socioeconomic status and diet among black and white girls (9/10 years old at baseline). She was also recently selected as a New Perspectives Fellow for the Duke-UNC USDA Center for Behavioral Economics and Healthy Food Choice Research. As part of the fellowship, Leak received a seed grant where she will examine the feasibility of implementing behavioral economics strategies in corner stores located in poverty stricken communities.

After completing her postdoctoral training, Leak plans to design a randomized controlled trial to examine how incentives to purchase healthy foods using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, at both grocery stores and corner stores, influence dietary behaviors among children and adolescents.

Karly Ford

Karly Sarita Ford

Karly Sarita Ford is an Assistant Professor of Education Policy Studies and a Research Scientist in the Center for the Study of Higher Education at Pennsylvania State University. She will be in residence at IRP the week of February 27, 2017, and will present a seminar on March 2.

Ford earned a Ph.D. from New York University in 2014. Her dissertation was entitled "Social Outcomes of Horizontal Stratification in Higher Education." As a graduate student, she was awarded a three-year Steinhardt fellowship and a two-year fellowship from the Institute of Education Sciences. She was a Fulbright Scholar in 2004.

Ford studies the relationships between schooling and social stratification, in particular, how educational institutions perpetuate or interrupt patterns of inequality. She also studies the ways that educational advantages and disadvantages are consolidated across generations. In order to better understand mobility in the United States, it is necessary to understand the intergenerational production of elite status. While much of her work has focused on the advantaged, it has been with the purpose of understanding social stratification and the barriers to mobility faced by low-income families.

Her past research projects have examined the intersections of education and inequality, with her earliest work investigating how marital patterns vary within and between educational status groups over time.

In work funded by a Spencer Foundation Small grant, Ford and a colleague are using Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) survey data to examine cross-national differences in the education levels and skills of workers in all segments of the labor market. They are framing this work as an investigation of theories of human capital and credentialing because the unique dataset contains information on the numeracy skills, occupations and educational credentials of 200,000 adults across 23 countries. Their early findings suggest that measures of numeracy skills are a better predictor of income, while educational credentials are better predictors of occupational prestige.

Self-Supported Scholar

Tim Maloney

Tim Maloney

Tim Maloney is Professor and Chair of Economics and Codirector of the Centre for Social Data Analytics at the Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. He will be in residence at IRP from September to December 2016, hosted by Robert Haveman, John Bascom Emeritus Professor of Public Affairs and Economics, Timothy Smeeding, Lee Rainwater Distinguished Professor of Public Affairs and Economics, and Barbara Wolfe, Richard A. Easterlin Professor of Public Affairs, Economics, and Population Health Sciences.

During his visit Maloney will be working with Haveman, Smeeding, and Wolfe on several U.S.-based research projects on predictive risk analysis, and continuing his work using data from New Zealand. Maloney and his colleagues at the Centre for Data Analytics are using linked administrative data in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania to implement a risk scoring tool to aid decision-making in child protective services. Similar work is also being done in California and potentially other US jurisdictions. He's also using administrative data in New Zealand to develop early indicators of at-risk status for university students which will be used to eventually target and deliver early intervention services to these vulnerable individuals.

Maloney earned his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1983. He has held positions in the Economics Departments at the University of Missouri (1983–1987). Bowdoin College (1987–1991) and the University of Auckland (1991–2010). He served as an Economic Advisor to the New Zealand Treasury, a Researcher at the Institute of Policy Studies in Wellington, and a Visiting Professor at IRP and the Economics Department at the University of Wisconsin.

Maloney's research expertise is in labor economics, econometrics, and public policy. His current research includes studies of the impacts of literacy programs in the workplace; class size effects on cognitive achievement; minimum wage impacts in the labor market; and evaluating training within the social welfare system.