Carnegie Mellon University

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June 01, 2018

Junior Economics Student Earns Undergraduate Research Grant From CMU

Jiyoung Kim, a junior majoring in economics and statistics, has been selected by Carnegie Mellon University to participate in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF). Over the course of the summer, Kim will be pursuing original research on the root causes of income inequality.

Undergraduate Opportunity for Original Research

Kim initially developed interest in the topic during her Intermediate Macroeconomics course. “There hasn’t been much research on the core factors that are driving the aggravation of income inequality,” she said. “I wanted to find the key factors at various levels of occupation, industry or education to know more about what forces are driving the widening gap.”

After reading through numerous research papers on the subject, Kim began looking for opportunities available for CMU students to conduct research. She plans to continue her studies in graduate school and knows that original research will be an important part of her application. “I thought SURF would be a great way to conduct my own independent research study,” she said.

“Research opportunities like the ones provided by SURF are essential to the undergraduate experience at Carnegie Mellon,” said Carol Goldburg, executive director of the Undergraduate Economics program, adjunct professor of economics. “We aim to offer a wealth of opportunities for our students to produce remarkable research throughout their time in the economics program.”

As part of the application process, Kim developed a proposal including the research question and its significance, a review of existing research, her personal experience with the subject, and the project design. She was also required to solicit a letter from a faculty mentor. She had worked as a research assistant for Ali Shourideh, assistant professor of economics, and asked him to serve as her research adviser.

After what the SURF selection committee describes as a “highly competitive process,” Kim was chosen to receive a $3,500 stipend to support 8-10 full-time weeks of research throughout the summer. As part of the program, Kim will be required to meet with Shourideh at least once a week and attend five sessions focused on developing communication skills.

"Important Work With the Potential to Profoundly Impact Society”

After completing the SURF program this summer, Kim plans to continue her research for her senior thesis. “It will be a great way to end my major in economics, because it will allow me to use the skills and knowledge I’ve built in my classes to do my own research and discover my own findings,” she said.

“I’m eager to see what Jiyong finds in the course of her research,” said Christopher Sleet, head of economics and professor of economics. “It’s an excellent example of how our undergraduate students are doing important work with the potential to profoundly impact society.”