The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced its 2022 Graduate Research Fellowship Program selections for Fellow candidates. Geoff Kocks, Brown Economics Alumni Class of 2018, was awarded a fellowship. The Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who are pursuing full-time research-based masters and doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) or in STEM education by providing three years of support. Just 45 students nationally were awarded this prestigious fellowship in Economics in 2022.
After leaving Brown, Geoff worked as a research assistant for MIT Professor Amy Finkelstein, assisting with her research on the impact of current location on life expectancy, the role of patient–based and place–based factors in hazardous opioid prescribing, and the design of home health care program allocation. He then started his Economics PhD in 2020 at MIT, where he is now in the 2nd year working with Professors Finkelstein and also Professor Parag Pathak on questions in health economics and the economics of education. His NSF research proposal is to use multiple administrative and survey data sets to study the impact of the school desegregations that followed Brown v. Board of Education on the long-run health of students who were affected. Geoff hopes that this research will both demonstrate the far-reaching benefits of historical desegregation, as well as contribute to the theoretical understanding on how education affects health. In the future, he plans to pursue a research agenda that uses the tools of labor economics to inform health and education policy.
Geoff has some advice for future applicants: "Applying for the NSF fellowship is a great opportunity to consider the ways in which your experiences have informed the types of economic questions that you find interesting and meaningful -- drawing these connections in your application helps show the reviewers why your research matters and gives them a sense of who you are as a person. Getting involved with research with faculty is also incredibly valuable, both for developing the econometric skills that you've learned in courses and for helping you think about applying an economic lens to the types of questions that you find personally interesting".
Geoff would like to thank Brown Economics as it would not have been possible for him to obtain the NSF Fellowship or pursue his current PhD studies without the education and experiences received from the Brown Economics Department. Geoff says, "in particular, research with Professor Emily Oster showed me how economics can be used to address urgent questions in health and education, and writing my thesis under the guidance of Professor Andrew Foster helped prepare me to pursue my independent research".