Economic Research Fellows Program

The Undergraduate Research Fellows Program is modeled after our popular Sharpe Fellows Program and will support talented undergraduates to work side-by-side with a professor on the professor’s research team. Each student recipient receives a stipend of $2,500 per quarter (for winter and spring, 2021), professional development training, and the opportunity to present their findings at an event in May / June of the Spring quarter.  

Current Research Fellows 2020-2021

Masha Melkonyan

Masha is a senior majoring in Mathematics/Economics. Although she transferred to UCLA from Santa Monica College (SMC) in fall 2019, her story at UCLA began before transferring. She participated in a summer research program in 2018 and won an award for her work at a research conference called ABRCMS. While at SMC, Masha was an active student participating in many extracurriculars. She helped fellow students understand Multivariable Calculus better through self-conducted sessions during the one year that she was a Supplemental Instructions Leader. Then, Masha was a Supplemental Instructions Mentor for an additional year training new leaders. At the same time she was a volunteer as well as a board member at the Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society for two years. After receiving a “President’s Circle Award” at the end of her journey at SMC, Masha was thrilled about transferring and being able to gain new experiences here at UCLA. Before joining the Research Fellows Program, Masha was an Assistant Analyst at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Masha hopes her last year as an undergraduate will be as productive as the previous ones and is excited about contributing to economic research as a Research Fellow.

Claire Nelson

Claire Nelson is a 4th year mathematics/economics major from Thousand Oaks, California. Claire has worked as a research assistant at the Anderson School of Management and as a summer research analyst for the Capital Markets research team at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. At UCLA, Claire is a director in the External Committee of the Undergraduate Economics Society. Before the pandemic, Claire played violin in the UCLA Afro-Cuban ensemble and the UCLA Symphony. After graduation, Claire will return to the New York Fed Capital Markets team as a Senior Research Analyst. After the two-year position, she plans to apply to PhD programs in economics. She hopes to be a professor at a research university or an economist at an institution like the Federal Reserve. Claire is interested in researching household finance, student loans, public economics, and the mortgage-backed securities market.

Minghao Pan

Minghao Pan is a junior math major. He participated in math competitions in high school and his courses and readings in UCLA have been focusing on analysis. He was attracted by economic models and the methodology of microeconomic theory and empirical works when he studied at Chinese University of Hong Kong during the summer of 2019. Later he has broadened his views by taking graduate courses in economics and working as a research assistant. Now he is working on or helping with projects in optimal bankruptcy codes, OTC markets, choice theory, and time allocations. In his free time, he enjoys reading books in social science and playing poker. Minghao plans to apply to Ph.D. programs in his senior year. He has not decided whether to pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics or economics. He would like to stay in academia after graduation.

David Yu

David grew up in the Bay Area before coming to UCLA for college. He is a third year majoring in Mathematics/Economics. The analytical nature and widespread applicability of economics inspired him to choose this path. In his free time, David enjoys cooking and playing ultimate Frisbee. David is still exploring the many subfields and research areas within economics. At this moment, he is most interested in microeconomic theory and labor economics.

Abhi Vemulapti

Abhi is a currently junior at UCLA who is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics/Economics and a Master’s in Economics. Abhi went to Davis Senior High School, where he was a member of the Citrus Circuits Robotics team and the Speech and Debate club. Throughout college, Abhi has pursued his interests in programming, mathematics, and economics through research assistant work and an internship at the Federal Reserve Board. In his free time, Abhi enjoys making and listening to music, playing video games, and reading business news.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is expected of the student?


Fellows are expected to work approximately 10 hours per week with a faculty member during the quarter and to present their work at a reception during the spring quarter and Undergraduate Research Week.  Students are expected to be professional and attend meetings with the faculty member at the appointed time and to be prepared for these meetings. They will be expected to meet deadlines and project timelines set out by the professor. Each fellow will be asked to meet as a cohort and undergo training to prepare for their final presentations. If the research fellow is not meeting the professor’s expectations, they could be dismissed from the program.

How will I know with whom I will be working?


If selected, students will be able to contact any Economics faculty member with whom they are interested in working. Faculty will be given information about all fellows and will have the option of contacting students directly.  The Chair and Vice Chair of the Department of Economics will help facilitate matches should the fellow be unable to find a match themselves.

What are the application requirements for this Program?


The application requirements include success as a student, a demonstrated interest for research, and a passion in economics. Each applicant must be a full-time UCLA student enrolled for the entire academic year (Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters). Extension students are not eligible for this program.  In order to be selected for this program – the student should have a 3.2 cumulative GPA, and must have already completed Econ 101. Completion of Econ 103/Econ 103L is not required but is strongly preferred. We encourage students from the Class of 2021 and the Class of 2022 to apply. The required materials to upload are listed on the application. 

What is the expected time commitment for this Program?


The time commitment expected is 10 hours per week for a minimum of two quarters. However, the exact hours and the distribution over weeks will ultimately be decided by your agreement with the faculty member you choose to work with and the demands of the project. There will be monthly cohort meetings with the other fellows will be required to attend.

What kind of research will applicants be participating in with the professors?


The research responsibilities will be dependent on what the faculty needs.  Students may be working on analyzing data, constructing data sets, running regressions, creating graphs and charts, editing text, summarizing articles, etc.

What would be the role of the student in the Program?


You would be an undergraduate research assistant. The specific responsibilities would depend on the project and the faculty member you choose to work with.

May I choose a faculty member outside of the Department of Economics as my faculty mentor?


No. This program is for students who are interested in research with tenure track faculty in UCLA’s Department of Economics only. Tenure track faculty hold the titles Professor, Associate

Do I have to be majoring in Economics to participate?


This program is open to all students regardless of major; however, priority is given to students majoring in Economics, Business Economics, and Mathematics / Economics.

Who is sponsoring this program?


The UCLA Economics Research Fellows Program is sponsored by the UCLA Economics Board of Visitors.  The Department is grateful for their commitment to undergraduate education.

If you are selected for this program, please note the following

For more information, visit the Financial Aid Office website.

If the student is an international student, he/she will need to fill out a form called GLACIER. The student must complete this form when he/she receives the email request. Otherwise, their award will not be processed and disbursed. International students’ awards will not be processed until the GLACIER form is submitted and complete.

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