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Avi Ahuja

Pearson Fellow

MPP Candidate

Avi Ahuja is a second-year MPP student at Harris Public Policy, where he works as a research assistant for Pearson Institute Director James Robinson and for Pearson Faculty Affiliate Raúl Sánchez de la Sierra, contributing to projects focused primarily on the political economy of development and comparative political behavior in sub-Saharan Africa. At Harris, he is pursuing certificates in Global Conflict Studies, International Policy and Development, and Data Analytics. He also works as a teaching assistant for Philip K. Pearson Professor Oeindrila Dube's course "Conflict: Root Causes, Consequences, and Solutions for the Future," and serves as co-chair of the International Development Policy Association, a student organization dedicated to advancing the scholarship and network of development on campus. In the summer of 2020, Ahuja completed a research internship with Upland Advisors, a sustainable peacebuilding nonprofit that advises different stakeholders in Myanmar's peace process.

After graduating from Harris Public Policy, Ahuja hopes to pursue a career in academic research and design his own research projects. His research interests lie at the intersection of the political economy of development, distributive politics, party systems, and ethnic conflict with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa. His goal is to become an active interlocutor in public dialogue around issues of social, political, and policy relevance in the region.

Ahuja comes to the University of Chicago with four years of experience in field-based development economics research. Most recently, he worked with the World Bank's Development Impact Evaluation (DIME) unit in Lusaka, Zambia, where he coordinated research projects related to agribusiness development. He has also worked as a Senior Research Associate with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) between 2016 and 2017, where he managed the randomized controlled trial (RCT) evaluation of a country-wide charter school program in partnership with the Ministry of Education. Previously, he worked with the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) in Odisha, India as a Research Associate on a Gates Foundation-funded project to identify and evaluate sustainable solutions to open defecation in urban slums.

Ahuja holds an undergraduate degree in finance with honors from the Shri Ram College of Commerce, University of Delhi, and was named a Young India Fellow 2014-2015 by Ashoka University.

Baidoa, Somalia

Makeshift, temporary shelter made of plastic and clothing at a refugee center in Baidoa, Somalia.