Charting Their Course: Research Associates Head to Grad School


A new wave of research associates (RAs) joins the Economic Research team every year, bringing fresh perspectives and an excitement to learn from professional economists and others at the SF Fed.

At the same time as the new group arrives, the cohort of RAs that has worked in Research over the past two years will be leaving to find their own new adventures. Among those, several of the RAs will continue their careers through graduate studies.

Cindy Zhao will be headed to Princeton for a PhD in economics, with a focus on labor economics and the economics of education. Zhao also received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship with a proposal to study how the rise of AI technology affects people’s decision to pursue higher education and their subsequent choice of majors.

Zhao said, “When I first started the SF Fed, I wasn’t fully sure I wanted to pursue a PhD, but my time here has convinced me. Not only is the research being done at the SF Fed incredibly interesting, the economists and fellow RAs are some of the most supportive and intelligent people I’ve met. I’m so grateful for my two years here.”

Zoë Arnaut will be continuing her economics journey at UC San Diego in the fall as an economics PhD student. She also earned a Katzin Fellowship, which awards five years of funding for doctoral students who demonstrate excellence and promise within their field. Arnaut said the RA program “has thoroughly prepared me both academically and professionally for my next step. By assisting and collaborating with SF Fed economists in research and policy work, I have gained valuable training in all parts of the research process and have been able to explore my interests in macroeconomics, finance, and sustainable growth.”

Anton Bobrov is entering the PhD program at the University of Michigan to study macroeconomics. He said the program’s data-centric approach is a particularly good fit to develop his skills and interests as an aspiring applied macroeconomist. Bobrov said, “During the time at the Fed, I enjoyed the terrific camaraderie of the department. I truly felt like everyone I worked with was cheering me on and wanting the best for my success. I wasn’t treated like an assistant but rather a peer.”

Schuyler Louie will be attending UC Irvine for a PhD in economics. He said, “During my time at the Fed, I learned crucial data analysis skills and received excellent mentorship.” Louie ultimately would like to become a professor or work at a government agency as an economist.

Brigid Meisenbacher will be working toward a master’s degree in Data Science at Columbia University. She said, “I really enjoyed all of the research projects I was able to work on at the SF Fed and am hoping to grow further in my research and analysis skills during my studies. I am grateful for the wonderful people at the Fed who have supported me along the way.”

Congratulations and best of luck to the full cohort of research associates on their future paths.

Featured photo of research associates (clockwise from bottom left) Anton Bobrov, Brigid Meisenbacher, Schuyler Louie, Cindy Zhao, and Zoë Arnaut will be heading to graduate programs after two years working with the SF Fed Economic Research Department.

Photo by Sean Qui.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the management of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco or of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

About the Author
Anita Todd is lead research editor in the Economic Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.