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Cornell University Cornell Brooks Public Policy

Outstanding PhD Student Awards

Winners of the Brooks School of Public Policy Outstanding PhD Student Awards


Brooks Awards for Outstanding Research Paper

This award honors an outstanding paper written by a PhD student who either is funded by the Brooks School or has Brooks faculty on their special committee. Submissions are evaluated based on the potential for innovation and impact in the field of public policy.

Matthew ComeyMatthew Comey (Brooks-funded PhD Candidate, Economics)
Can a State’s Income Tax Schedule Affect the Size of its Tax Base?”
State politicians frequently tout tax cuts as a way to stimulate economic activity and grow the tax base. In this paper, Comey makes several methodological advances over previous research on this topic and finds that that the effects of tax reforms are asymmetric: tax increases have no discernible effect on the tax base, but tax cuts can lead to significant growth in state income and per capita income. These findings have the potential to inform ongoing—and often highly-politicized—state policy debates regarding tax reform.

Alexandra Copperstock Alexandra Cooperstock (PhD Candidate, Sociology)
“Demographics of School District Secession”
Cooperstock’s paper examines the causes and consequences of school district secession—formal withdrawal from an existing school district to form a new school district. Secessions may weaken the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education by posing a threat to integration, especially if schools that secede are more racially homogenous than the districts from which they withdraw. Cooperstock finds strong evidence of this on a national scale in the United States. She argues that school district secessions are an important but understudied political and policy mechanism underlying the ongoing racial and economic (re)segregation of school districts in the U.S.


Brooks Awards for Outstanding Teaching

This annual award recognizes outstanding teaching by PhD Teaching Assistants for the Brooks School of Public Policy.

Lexin CaiLexin Cai  (Brooks-funded PhD Candidate, Economics)
PAM 3130: Behavioral Economics and Public Policy
Students and faculty recognized Cai’s organization, patience, and ability to explain challenging concepts in ways students could grasp. She stepped up to meet challenging course and student issues throughout the semester.  

Meredith WelchMeredith Welch (PhD Candidate, Public Policy)
PADM 5310: Applied Multivariate Statistics in Public Affairs 
Students and faculty recognized Welch’s well-prepared, clear, and inclusive lab sessions, noting that she was demanding yet responsive, had a clear mastery of the course material, and was invested in her students’ success. 

Giulia OliveroGiulia Olivero (PhD Candidate, Public Policy)
PAM 3620: Population and Policy Controversies in Europe 
Olivero played a key role in organizing student living and learning for this international course. Students and faculty recognized her ability to facilitate cross-cultural learning exchanges and to adapt quickly when unexpected opportunities or challenges arose.


Brooks Public Engagement Awards

This award honors outstanding contributions to public engagement by a PhD student who either is funded by the Brooks School or has Brooks faculty on their special committee. Submissions are evaluated based on evidence of impact and engagement on policy-relevant matters. 

Paul LushenkoShyam Raman




Paul Lushenko (PhD Candidate, Government) and Shyam Raman (PhD Candidate, Public Policy), Senior Fellows in the Cornell Brooks School Tech Policy Institute under the direction of Dr. Sarah Kreps, are recognized for their research on remote warfare technologies and the implications of that research for both domestic and international policy. Their work has been published in a wide range of media outlets and has directly informed Congressional testimony as well as key policy, organizational, and training initiatives in the government and military.  


Past Outstanding TA Award Recipients 

Spring 2021

Rene Crispin – PAM 2070: Big Data for Big Policy Problems, Cornell-NEEL Pre-College Program
Julia Zhu – PAM 2100: Introduction to Statistics

Fall 2020

Anne Burton
Sam Dodini

Spring 2020

Giulia Olivero
Tatiana Padilla

Fall 2019

Grace Phillips
Meredith Welch

Spring 2019

Jocelyn Fischer
Pamela Meyerhofer

Fall 2018

Mariana Amorim
James Elwell
Erin McCauley
Andrea Monge
Stephenson Strobel

Spring 2018

Xing (Sherry) Zhang

Fall 2017

Mariana Amorim
Lawrence Jin