J-PAL North America has announced that Matthew “Matt” Notowidigdo ’03, MEng ’04, PhD ’10, professor of economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, is joining Amy Finkelstein as co-scientific director of the organization, replacing Lawrence “Larry” Katz.
Katz is stepping down after nearly 10 years of supporting the growth and development of J-PAL North America, having worked closely with Finkelstein to launch the regional office of J-PAL in 2013. He will continue his role as a co-chair of J-PAL North America’s Worker Prosperity Initiative and as an active affiliated researcher.
“Over the past decade, J-PAL North America has had a major impact in expanding the field’s capacity to conduct randomized evaluations on key policy issues in the region,” says Katz. “I am excited to pass the baton to new leadership at the scientific director level. Matt is an excellent choice to join Amy in guiding the organization in its mission over the next decade.”
“We truly would not be where we are today without Larry’s efforts, including helping to launch the office, advising the launch of multiple research initiatives, reviewing over a hundred proposals as a review board member, expanding our research network, supporting high-quality evidence synthesis and policy outreach, and contributing to major fundraising successes,” says Finkelstein. “I now look forward to collaborating with Matt in providing scientific direction to the next phase of J-PAL North America’s work and driving forward a new generation of evidence.”
In the co-scientific director role, Notowidigdo, alongside Finkelstein, will support and guide J-PAL North America in developing rigorous research on economic mobility and advise as the organization builds a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion and develops a research agenda for racial equity.
“Matt holds a deep commitment to our mission, a history of public service at J-PAL, excitement about randomized evaluations, and many ideas around how to strengthen our diversity, equity, and inclusion work,” says Vincent Quan, co-executive director of J-PAL North America. “His thought leadership in these areas will be extremely valuable to the growth of our organization.”
A J-PAL affiliated researcher since 2015, Notowidigdo’s work spans labor market issues, social protection policies, and health interventions. He has experience conducting a number of randomized evaluations and working effectively with both nonprofit and government partners. Highlights of his evaluations in partnership with J-PAL North America include an influential study on increasing SNAP take-up in Pennsylvania and an ongoing study on managed care organizations with the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
Notowidigdo also serves as a co-chair for the Worker Prosperity Initiative and has been an active reviewer of proposals, a participant at J-PAL North America events, and a reviewer for the Invited Researcher Search Committee. He has provided guidance on J-PAL North America’s strategies to build a diverse economics pipeline, informed by his direct experience in serving as a mentor for both the Russell Sage Foundation’s Pipeline Grants Competition and for junior economists with the Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession.
“I've had the pleasure of working with Matt on numerous research projects during his time as a J-PAL affiliate,” says Laura Feeney, co-executive director of J-PAL North America. “In addition to the experience he brings to his new role, I am excited for the mentorship he will bring to our staff, his enthusiasm for the work, and his commitment to supporting economics scholars from all backgrounds."
Notowidigdo holds a BS in economics, a BS in computer engineering, an MEng in computer science, and a PhD in economics from MIT. In addition to his work with J-PAL, he has served as a co-editor of the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, a research associate at the National Bureau of Economics Research, and an associate editor at the Quarterly Journal of Economics.