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Division Celebrates Research Associates' Successes

Five RAs pose in the Research library

The Research Division of the St. Louis Fed employs research associates (RAs) to assist and collaborate with our economists. This year, all five of our senior RAs have been accepted into top-20 economics PhD programs. In addition, three of the RAs also received grant awards from the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

In the Research Division, RAs typically spend two to four years working closely with our economists to produce new research and communicate their scholarly findings to a wide variety of audiences through various media and social media channels. They also identify and pursue their own research interests. RA contributions have resulted in co-authored scholarly articles and are often featured in the Bank's blogs and general publications. In the last few years, the Research Division has launched a more formal mentoring program, helping RAs connect with economists they don't work for directly. Current and former RAs say they appreciate Research's evolving culture of collaboration.

Left to right in the photo above, the five RAs are:

  • Praew Grittayaphong – University of Michigan
  • Maggie Isaacson – University of Pennsylvania - NSF grant awardee
  • Jesse LaBelle – Northwestern University - NSF grant awardee
  • Iris Arbogast - University of Chicago - NSF grant awardee
  • Olivia Wilkinson – University of Wisconsin–Madison

RAs often go on to graduate study in economics or related fields, but others pursue careers in government, law, the private sector, or other roles in the Federal Reserve System. Several former RAs continue to work at the St. Louis Fed contributing to high-profile Bank initiatives and functions, such as Maria Arias on the FRED team and Lowell Ricketts in the Institute for Economic Equity.

Josh Haines manages the RAs. His predecessor, Chuck Gascon, recruited this cohort, but Josh has been working closely with them: "I'm so impressed and proud of this cohort of RAs! Seeing their growth, in some cases since they were Research Division interns, has been a special part of my career here at the Fed. They have worked hard every day—not only to help the department accomplish its goals but also to accomplish their own. They certainly serve as role models for the next wave of RAs applying to graduate school."

The Research Division's success depends on a diversity of ideas, backgrounds, and perspectives among our economists to foster innovative thinking, expand current ideas, and reveal new areas for exploration. According to Research Director Carlos Garriga, "For more than two decades, we have been leaders in developing a more robust pipeline—from high school to graduate school—for students to enter and excel in the field of economics. We start very early with our student board of directors program, recruit summer interns, and onboard them as RAs once they graduate from college. Each cohort keeps raising the bar for the next one, and the placements in top PhD programs have become the norm. However, having three team members receive NSF grant award in a single year is an incredible achievement. This is the most competitive nation-wide grant program. I am extremely excited to follow their careers once they graduate with  doctoral degrees."