Gabriel Swagel ’20, Economics
I worked as a research assistant in the NITSAN Lab, an interdisciplinary center for sustainabledevelopment research that focuses on some of the most pressing issues facing the global poor. I worked directly with the lab head, Ram Fishman, on two major projects. The first project focused on fertilizer overuse in Chinese agriculture, a major pollution issue. Using a longitudinal dataset of more than 3 million plotlevel observations, I designed parametric and non-parametric regression models to estimate the response of a variety of crops to nitrogen fertilizer. The second project studied how smallholder farmers in India use water, and the impact of drought on that usage. I helped develop the research question, compile literature on the topic, clean data, design econometric models to identify the effect of drought on water usage, and write drafts of papers. I learned valuable skills in econometric modeling and programming, writing, and working within a team. I also developed an interest in smallholder-farmer welfare. I am building on an insight I had about the possible correlation between soil quality and farm size to write my junior paper on the inverse relationship between farm size and productivity in developing agriculture.