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Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics


Malik selected as one of the annual research scholars of The Sadie Collective

March 4, 2022

AEDE PhD student Khyati Malik has been selected as a 2022 Sadie Collective research scholar in partnership with the Brookings Institution for her work on understanding the spread of Covid-19 within major U.S. cities. She is one of five scholars selected this year from a competitive pool of many applicants across the United States, receiving an award of $1,000 to accompany her selection. The Sadie Collective supports Black and other underrepresented women in economics and related fields through content creation, programing and mentorship. Malik recently presented her research at the SACE 2022 Research Reception to nearly 500 guests.

Malik’s research looks at the impact income and poverty has on the rate of Covid-19 infections within U.S. cities. She found that cities with high population densities had high transmission rates of the Covid-19 virus, making them hot beds of infection. She also found poorer households within these cities had less flexibility to stay at home and reduce human contact. While policies that reduce human contact (such as stay-at-home orders) may be helpful, Malik’s research highlights the importance of providing poorer households who do not have the ability to do so with alternatives such as flexible working hours.

As part of her research presentation experience, Malik was paired with an experienced macroeconomist, Dr. Claudia Sahm, who was generous with her time and feedback. Her mentor’s guidance helped Malik get more comfortable with acknowledging the important contributions of her work. “She told me I needed to go out there, present what I have done and be comfortable taking credit,” Malik said.

Her advice to other underrepresented women in economics – “Being a student of mathematics, I believe in the laws of probability. The chance of winning is always close to zero. However, it is actually zero if you don’t apply for an opportunity. So take that first step,” Malik said.

In 2019, only about 8% of PhDs in economics were awarded to underrepresented women, women who often face additional barriers and challenges throughout their academic and professional careers. While there is still a long way for the profession to go in terms of gender equity, Malik has experienced a number of bright spots with both the Sadie Collective and the AEDE PhD program.

“Talking to other women about their struggles creates this common atmosphere where you can relate to each other and learn from those common experiences,” Malik said.

Prior to joining the AEDE PhD program, Malik worked in the banking and finance sector. She saw economics as a way to use her quantitative skills to make a difference in the world, and was accepted to six different PhD programs. What made her choose AEDE?

“The thing that stood out to me was how welcoming everyone was,” Malik said. “The professors, the staff – everyone is so supportive. Obviously, they are all super smart and that’s why they are here, but they value empathy and kindness as well.”

As Malik looks towards her future, she gravitates towards wanting to work in academia, which she feels allows for the creative freedom she craves in her work.

“It’s not about working on something that someone told you to. It’s your own work and you can take it in whatever direction you want to,” she said. “I would like to be the kind of professor my advisors (Dr. Elena Irwin and Dr. Sathya Gopalakrishnan) are.”

Learn more about the AEDE PhD program >>>