I am a Ph.D. student at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, joining the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania next year. I’m also an Institute of Education Sciences Pre-Doctoral Fellow and a Research Fellow at the University’s Crime Lab and Urban Education Lab. I’m interested in how policy - whether education, social, or crime policy - can improve the life outcomes and economic mobility of disadvantaged youth. Below are short descriptions of some of my current projects. Click over to my CV to learn a little background on my path from Lancaster PA, through Cambridge, DC, and Paris, to here in Chicago with my faithful dog Gracie.

Current Projects


Preventing Youth Violence and Dropout: A Randomized Field Experiment. With Harold Pollack, Roseanna Ander, and Jens Ludwig.

  1. -Abstract: Improving the long-term life outcomes of disadvantaged youth remains a top policy priority in the United States, although identifying successful interventions for adolescents – particularly males – has proven challenging. This paper reports results from a large randomized controlled trial of an intervention for disadvantaged male youth grades 7-10 from high-crime Chicago neighborhoods. The intervention was delivered by two local non-profits and included regular interactions with a pro-social adult, after-school programming, and – perhaps the most novel ingredient – in-school programming designed to reduce common judgment and decision-making problems related to automatic behavior and biased beliefs, or what psychologists call cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). We randomly assigned 2,740 youth to programming or to a control group; about half those offered programming participated, with the average participant attending 13 sessions. Program participation reduced violent-crime arrests during the program year by 8.1 per 100 youth (a 44 percent reduction). It also generated sustained gains in schooling outcomes equal to 0.14 standard deviations during the program year and 0.19 standard deviations during the follow-up year, which we estimate could lead to higher graduation rates of 3-10 percentage points (7-22 percent). Depending on how one monetizes the social costs of crime, the benefit-cost ratio may be as high as 30:1 from reductions in criminal activity alone.


    See a summary of our findings here:

    http://crimelab.uchicago.edu/page/becoming-man-bam-sports-edition-findings


    Click here for a full draft of the paper


    And see me talk about the study on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight here:

    http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2012/07/16/becoming-man



Reducing Juvenile Delinquency by Reducing Automatic Behavior: Experimental Evidence from Juvenile Detention. With Jon Guryan and Jens Ludwig.

  1. -All male youth entering the nation’s largest temporary juvenile detention center during the study period were randomly assigned to residential units that either provided CBT and behavioral management techniques or provided the standard services previously in place. We are linking behavioral data from within the Center with Chicago Public Schools data and arrest records in order to assess whether the provision of CBT-based programming reduces recidivism and increases pro-social behavior like school attendance upon release.



Learning to Work: The Effects of Summer Employment on Disadvantaged Youth

  1. -Chicago provides thousands of youths with summer work opportunities each year. Billions of dollars have been spent on similar youth summer employment programs over the last 50 years, but there is little to no evidence on their effects. I am working with the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services to provide some of the first rigorous evidence on these programs. The program, One Summer Plus, targets youth at the highest risk of violence in the city. Youth were lotteried into an employment-only group (n = 364), an employment plus social-emotional learning group (n = 366), and a control group (n = 904). I will link study youth to their arrest, schooling, and employment data to evaluate the short- and long-term effects of the program. Using the two treatment groups, I can further test whether the persistent gains from cognitive behavioral therapy-based programming seen elsewhere translate into improved program engagement and more lasting program impacts in the employment context.