PGE Alumni Profile
Matthew Klein, AB '14
Name, Graduation Year: Matthew Klein, 2014
Current Role: PhD Student
Location: Madison, WI
Social media: @Matt_hanhat
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your current role?
I’m a graduate student in the University of Wisconsin at Madison’s Agricultural and Applied Economics Department. My research focuses on the economics and statistics of gender, power, and government intervention. I hope to shed light on how best to measure women’s empowerment as decision makers in the family, whether government and NGO empowerment programs inspire a backlash from men who lose decision making power, and how changing power structures within the family influence broader institutions. I also work on an outreach program studying the relationship between farmer marketing strategies and profitability in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
What you have been doing since graduation?
I worked in Delhi after graduating as a fellow with the International Innovation Corps. I highly recommend that undergrads interested in development or government apply for this UChicago opportunity. It’s really excellent to get to live abroad for a year, and the freedom afforded by the program prompts a lot of personal and professional growth. And while it’s challenging, there is a lot of opportunity to make an impact as an IIC fellow. I applied for a PhD while living in India, and have been studying since my fellowship ended.
How PGE has helped you in your career?
I discovered my professional passions and developed career aspirations because of my experiences in PGE. I traveled to Costa Rica as a research assistant for Professor Tara Massad one summer on a PGE scholarship. That summer was formative, helping me develop an interest in field work and communities in the majority world. I found that I have a passion for economic research in Professor Sabina Shaikh’s research practicum. Her encouragement and feedback gave me the confidence to approach big questions. Her mentorship started me down a path of inquiry that I hope to make into a career. Additionally, I feel that I benefitted greatly from a broad education that covered topics from ecology to anthropology and history. I grew the most in some of my classes outside of economics, like Professor Alex Blanchette’s course on the nature of the factory farm.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
My main hobby is wrestling. I was on the team at UChicago with Coaches Leo Kocher and Khashayar Sarrafi, both of whom are great mentors. I’m able to stay active in the sport through the UW club team. It’s a blessing to have access to a fun, relaxed training environment. When I’m not sharpening my programming or teaching skills, I’m working on my down blocks and double legs.
What advice would you give undergraduate students interested in Environmental/Sustainability fields?
UChicago and PGE have incredible opportunities for you to act on your interests, grow, and gain the technical skills that will help you pursue your goals after graduating. Even more importantly, the Program is full of people that want you to succeed, like Professor Shaikh. My advice to undergraduate students interested in sustainability is to take advantage of these incredible resources. Schedule meetings with the faculty and staff to discuss career goals and the opportunities available to you now. Apply for the opportunities that the Program offers, even if they are a little bit outside of your comfort zone – it’s worth it!
Anything you would like to add?
Please feel free to reach out if you’d like to discuss any of the topics I raised above. Good luck studying and enjoy Chicago and Hyde Park!