Student Advisees and their Projects

PhD Student Advisees

Faraz Usmani (PhD student, University Program in Environmental Policy, economics concentration) is a PhD student in the University Program in Environmental Policy, studying environmental economics. His research is focused on the economics of energy access and international development. Prior to coming to Duke in 2014, Faraz worked for two years as a Junior Professional Associate in the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management network at the World Bank in Washington, DC on environmental management in developing countries. He also has experience managing a rural health intervention while at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in India. Faraz holds a B.A. in Economics from New York University and an M.A. in International and Development Economics from Yale University.

Emily Pakhtigian (PhD Student, Sanford School of Public Policy, economics concentration) is a PhD student at the Sanford School of Public Policy studying environmental and development economics. Her research interests include the fields of environmental and resource economics as well as economic development. Emily received a B.A. in economics and a B.A. in political science from Moravian College in 2015. Her undergraduate honors thesis focused on water quality valuation in Bangladesh; as part of this work she helped to implement a pilot survey in Dhaka. This experience contributed to her decision to pursue a PhD at Duke, which she started in the fall of 2015. Emily anticipates continuing her research examining the intersection of environmental and development economics as she progresses in her graduate studies.

Jenny Orgill (PhD student, University Program on Environmental Policy, economics concentration) completed her PhD in the University Program in Environmental Policy in 2017, and is now an Assistant Professor at Franklin & Marshall College. She grew up in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and saw Malaysia’s rapid development during her time there. Her experience in Malaysia forms her research interests today, including economic development, environmental quality, and health. Jenny received a B.S. in economics and a B.A. in political science from The George Washington University in 2008. After a few years of travel and a stint working at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Jenny returned to school to pursue a Masters of Public Policy at Duke University. While at Duke, Jenny became involved with a research project led by Marc Jeuland investigating water quality perceptions in peri-urban Cambodia. After completing her Masters, she decided to stay at Duke to pursue a PhD studying environmental economics. She is currently a Doctoral Scholar at the Duke Global Health Institute, and is exploring the link between sustainable environmental policies and health outcomes in low-income countries.

Current and former PhD Students with whom I (have) collaborate(d)

Chris Paul (Former PhD student, University Program on Environmental Policy, political science concentration) graduated from the UPEP program in May 2016, and is now an assistant professor at North Carolina Central University. His research is focused on the political economy of environmental health and climate change in low income countries. Previously, Chris served in the United States Peace Corps as an Environmental Education Volunteer in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. In August 2010, he joined the inaugural cohort of the Duke University Program in Environmental Policy in the political science track, as a University Scholars Program Fellow and a James B. Duke Fellow. Chris’s fieldwork is primarily in East Africa focusing on the Rift Valley in Ethiopia, where he researches climate change, environmental health, and development.  Chris uses multiple methods to study decision making for environmental health.

jiesheng2Jie-Sheng Tan Soo (Former PhD student, University Program on Environmental Policy, economics concentration) finished his PhD in May 2015, and is now an Assistant Professor at the National University of Singapore. Using economic models, Jie-Sheng’s research focuses on the interaction between environmental quality, health, and economic outcomes in developing countries. His dissertation work considered how Indonesians trade off better economic opportunities and exposure to poorer air quality by migration. Jie-Sheng graduated with a B. Soc. Sci. in Economics from the National University of Singapore with 1st class honors in 2006 and Masters in Environmental Management from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke in 2010. He was an economic analyst at the Competition Commission of Singapore from 2006 to 2008.

Jessica Lewis (Former PLewis UttarakhandhD student, Nicholas School of the Environment) completed her PhD studies at Duke University in the fall of 2015, and now works on household air pollution and health issues at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Her work focuses on household energy and health, particularly relating to traditional cooking in developing countries. Her dissertation work, based in India, considered the adoption of environmental health interventions to reduce household air pollution, as well as the impacts of these technologies on air quality and health. She led fieldwork for studies measuring household purchase and use of improved stoves (including biogas, electric and efficient biomass stoves). Her interest in reducing the health burden from household air pollution has also led to studies that quantify particulate matter and polycylic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure and objective health measurements from improved and traditional stove users. Prior to joining Duke, Lewis worked in the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Environment and Energy, as well as at the US Environmental Protection Agency (in RTP, Region 4 Atlanta, and Cincinnati).


Recent Masters students with whom I (have) collaborate(d)

Sushmita Samaddar is a second year Master of Public Policy student at the Sanford School of Public Policy. She is pursuing a specialization in environment policy and a certificate in international development policy. Her masters research is focused on energy access and environmental health interventions in rural India. Sushmita holds a BA in Political Science from Delhi University, India and worked in research on electoral and political reforms for two years with Association for Democratic Reforms before coming to Duke.

Robert Ridel is a Master of Public Policy candidate at the Sanford School of Public Policy. At Duke, he is focusing on energy, the environment, and international development and has supplemented his studies with internships at the Rocky Mountain Institute and the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association. His master’s project will analyze the competing influence of economic analyses and political factors on hydropower policy in Bhutan and Nepal. Prior to attending Duke, he was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tonga and Guatemala, focusing on business development, ecotourism and environmental issues. While in Tonga, he served on the Strategic Planning Committee for E-Waste Tonga, the first NGO in the Pacific founded to combat the growing environmental hazard caused by improperly disposed electronic waste. He holds a B.S. in Marketing from Arizona State University.

Lina Kelpsaite (Masters of Environmental Management, Spring 2016) is now an Energy and Sustainability Analyst at Army National Guard HQ where she helps to run sustainability program for National Guard facilities at 54 U.S. States and Territories. Lina received MEM from the Nicholas School of the Environment and a certificate in International Development from the Duke Center for International Development in 2016. She also holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from University of Minnesota and worked for over two years as Water Resources Engineer at HDR Engineering. Prior to graduate studies Lina served as Peace Corps Volunteer in The Gambia, West Africa. During her service she provided technical assistance to USAID Banafaa project working with local communities on more sustainable management of fisheries and coastal resources, and water quality improvement in Tanbi Wetland Reserve. While at Duke Lina assisted Dr. Jeuland with Millennium Challenge Corporation Jordan Compact Investment impact evaluation project. As part of her master’s project she conducted cost-benefit analysis that estimated economic benefits associated with potential reuse of treated wastewater for agricultural irrigation in Jordan Valley.

AlishaAlisha Pinto (Masters of Public Policy, Spring 2016) is a Field Coordinator for the Multi-Tier Framework on Energy Access project at the World Bank. She works on developing the framework on household access to clean cooking solutions and manages the implementation of baseline surveys in Liberia, Nepal and Zambia. Alisha earned her MPP in May 2016 from the Sanford School of Public Policy with a specialization in environmental and global policy. Alisha previously worked as a Research Assistant with the Duke Household Energy and Health Initiative and was the coordinator for the Triangle Research Initiative on Household Energy Transitions. During her MPP, Alisha spent a summer at the International Water Management Institute in Sri Lanka and India in 2015. Alisha holds a B.A. in Economics from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai and worked for two years at a Mumbai-based foreign policy think tank called Gateway House. She also worked as an associate consultant with the Parthenon Group, on projects in the international private education sector.

BolunBolun Li (Masters of Science in Global Health, Spring 2016) graduated in May 2016; his work focused on environmental health and development policy. Prior to attending Duke, Bolun was a member of Rural Education Action Program in China, conducting field research in health and education. He was also part of the international department at the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. He has also been a member of Chinese NGO delegation to the United Nations Climate Change Conference and the United Nations General Assembly. Under Marc’s supervision, Bolun conducted a field study on improved cook stoves with SNV Cambodia and Maddox-Jolie-Pitt Foundation in Battambang province of Cambodia during the summer of 2015. Bolun holds a B.A. in applied mathematics from Tsinghua University.

Lphilipponeisa Lipinski (Masters of Science in Global Health, Spring 2015) graduated in May 2015.  She grew up in Rochester, New York and graduated with a B.A. in Anthropology from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2011.  Prior to coming to Duke, she lived in the foothills of the Himalayas attending Hindi school and working for the same study abroad program she attended during her undergraduate years.  While at Duke, Lisa worked as a research assistant for the Duke Household Energy and Health Initiative.  While working on the project, she assisted with fieldwork in Uttarakhand, India in the winter of 2013 and summer 2014 as part of her masters research and the TRAction Project on Designing and Evaluating Behavior Change Interventions to Improve the Adoption and Use of Improved Cookstoves.

Alexandra “Alec” Shannon (Masters of Science in Global Health, Spring 2015) now works as a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist for Performance Monitoring and Accountability 2020 (PMA2020). Her thesis research was conducted in Udaipur, India, as part of Duke’s Household Energy and Health Initiative, to evaluate demand for water and sanitation technologies. Prior to PMA2020, Alec worked for the Water Institute at UNC, where she supported projects on Community-led Total Sanitation and Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage. Alec holds a B.S. in Environmental Technology and Management from North Carolina State University.

NNinaBrooksina Brooks (Masters of Public Policy, Spring 2014) is now a PhD student at Stanford University, where her research focuses on the intersection of environmental, health, and development economics. After she graduated, she worked for one year as a Senior Research Analyst for International Projects at NORC in Washington DC. She graduated from Duke with a concentration in international development policy and a certificate in International Development from the Duke Center for International Development. She also holds a B.A. in Political Economy from UC Berkeley. Prior to coming to Duke, she spent three years working for Global Footprint Network, an international environmental NGO that works toward advancing sustainability by promoting the Ecological Footprint, a resource accounting tool. Nina worked as a Research Assistant for Dr. Marc Jeuland and Dr. Subhrendu Pattanayak on the Duke Household Energy and Health Initiative. While working on this project, Nina became interested in the environmental health issues in the developing world. She went to Uttarakhand, India in the summer of 2013 to help implement the improved cookstove intervention for the TRAction Project on Designing and Evaluating Behavior Change Interventions to Improve the Adoption and Use of Improved Cookstoves.

Laura Morrisonlauramorrison  (Masters of Public Policy, Spring 2014) is now an Economist at RTI International focusing on environmental health and technology. Broadly, her research interests include global environmental health and economic development, with a focus on adoption of technologies for development. Laura received a Master’s in Public Policy from Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy in 2014 and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Rochester in 2008. Prior to arriving at Duke, Laura facilitated programs and research for Columbia University’s Committee on Global Thought, an interdisciplinary committee of faculty examining innovative approaches to global economic development. She has also worked with several NGOs in New York City and at Mamta Health Institute for Mother & Child in Delhi, India. While at Duke, Laura worked with the Duke Household Energy & Health Initiative as a Research Assistant, conducting fieldwork on a household water treatment and cookstove study in rural Rajasthan, India.

Gina Turrini (Masters of Public Policy, Spring 2013) is now a PhD student in the Economics Department at Duke University, where she is concentrating in applied microeconomics. She grew up in Anchorage, Alaska and received a BA in math and political science from Amherst College. While pursuing her Masters degree at Duke, she began to work as a research assistant for Dr. Marc Jeuland on a project looking at how household-level information affects hygiene and sanitation decisions. As part of this project, she spent a summer in Cambodia overseeing the implementation of a randomized information intervention and survey. It was this experience that led her to decide to pursue a PhD in economics. Going into her second year, she hopes to continue to work on research looking at the intersection of health and development.