Pardee RAND Graduate School Findings Alumni Newsletter, Summer 2014

Findings Newsletter

Summer 2014

Message from the Dean

Susan L. Marquis

In This Issue

  • Message from the Dean

  • Around Campus

    New Year, New Courses • How Quals Work • Relaxing with Games • Student Publications

  • Wolf Tribute

  • Catching Up with Alumni

    Celebrate Peter deLeon • Alumni at Commencement • New Jobs! • Alumni in the News • Our Newest Alumni

  • Events

    Summer Faculty Workshop • Upcoming Events • D.C. Dean's Lunch • IDSS • APPAM Conference

In the last issue of Findings, we focused on our students who were commencing their post-graduate careers and lives. In this issue, we thought we'd give you a better sense of what our current students are up to. In the academic year that begins this month with the arrival of our 2014 cohort, we're offering one of our broadest slates of courses ever. Take a look at some of our new classes and see what dynamic faculty from across RAND's offices are teaching our students.

For those who are not recent alumni, we've got a story about the school's qualifying exams and tracking systems, how they've changed, and the effect of that change on our students' progress in the program. And of course, all work and no play makes Pardee RAND students dull men and women, so we thought we'd let you in on the new games they are playing to keep their competitive spirits in shape. (Rumor is that faculty member Krishna Kumar, director of RAND Labor and Population, will not meet with his dissertation students unless they challenge him to a game of table tennis.)

In addition to a look inside the school, we've taken yet another opportunity to fill you in, and brag just a bit, about our latest graduates, our recognition of founding dean Charles Wolf, and the recent recognition and position changes of our distinguished alumni. Stay in touch and we'll keep you informed!

Susan Marquis

Around Campus

New School Year, Cool New Courses, Dynamic New Teaching Faculty

One of Pardee RAND's leading traits is its analytic dexterity. And so it is no surprise that faculty members and RAND researchers submitted over 20 new elective course ideas over the last several months. The box below lists the courses that made the cut and will augment students' policy tool belt this year.

Course Title


Term / Units

Smart Markets and Combinatorial Auctions

John Raffensperger

Fall / 0.5


Martin Libicki

Fall / 0.5

Analyzing Text with Computers

William Marcellino

Fall / 0.5

The US Defense Budget in International Security and Domestic Politics

Stephanie Young

Fall / 0.5

Criminology and Public Policy

Jessica Saunders

Winter / 1.0

Understanding Terrorism

Angel Rabasa

Winter / 0.5

Modeling Socio-Economic Complex Adaptive Systems

Raffaele Vardavas

Spring / 0.5

Cyber 101: Fundamental Concepts of Security and Risks in Cyberspace

Lillian Ablon/Josh Baron

Spring / 0.5

Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

Nicholas Burger/Shanthi Nataraj/Craig Bond

Spring / 1.0

Courses will be taught in multiple formats with professors and guest speakers across RAND locations. Full course descriptions of these new courses — and all of our courses — are available online.

What's New with Qualifying Exams and Progressing Through the Program

Remember those grueling tests? Qualifying exams at Pardee RAND have changed a bit over the years and we thought we'd give you a brief study session. Previously, qualifying exams were given after the second year of the program; they now take place directly after completion of the first-year curriculum. Each July, first-year students take 3 all-day written exams over the course of a week. The exams cover microeconomics (Friday), empirical analysis (Monday), and policy analysis (Wednesday). Those who do not pass one or more of the written exams have a chance to demonstrate their competence in oral exam(s) taken the following Friday.

After completing their qualifying exams, students enter the "First Year Review" in which a committee of the three Deans and three faculty members assess each first-year student's progress to date. All students provide a self-assessment, and the committee provides written feedback on each student's performance on coursework, qualifying exams, and on-the-job training. New this year is a "Second Year Review" provided after the second year and, starting in 2015, a "Third Year Review" will also follow.

The results have been significant. Students are able to start to formulate and conceptualize dissertations much earlier alongside their elective coursework. The milestones and support clarify and help structure the dissertation process with the intent to help students complete the program strongly and more quickly.

The Games People Play


Alumni will certainly remember beach volleyball and lunchtime RecCom board games in the common room of the "old building." These traditions continue, with a twist. Pardee RAND students (and RAND staff) can now challenge each other to table tennis tournaments or larger-than-life chess games in the first floor courtyard.

The two games were installed in July and were used frequently over the summer. They will undoubtedly offer our new students another outlet for relaxation as the year begins.

Application Season Began Sept 2; Recommend Pardee RAND to Potential Students

If you know of any passionate and bright prospective Pardee RAND students, through work or other networks, please send them our way! More information about the application process, upcoming online and in-person information sessions, and timelines is available online. The deadline to apply is January 8, 2015.

Student Research: Prolific Student Publishing

Even in the summer, Pardee RAND students have been busy collaborating on RAND reports and journal articles. Below is a sampling of recent releases; a full list of student-authored research is available online.

book cover
  • Leslie Mullins (cohort '12) and RAND Health colleagues explored the possibilities and challenges of Providing Smoking Cessation Programs to Homeless Youth in Los Angeles; their findings were published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.
  • Mollie Rudnick (cohort '11) and colleagues in RAND Education examined the implementation and outcomes of Competency-Based Education in Three Pilot Programs and shared their findings with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which had funded the pilots and requested the evaluation.

Honoring Founding Dean Dr. Charles Wolf, Jr.

Charles Wolf

Omedetou gozaimasu

In honor of our long affiliation with Dr. Charles Wolf, Jr. — renowned economist, researcher, advisor to business and governments, educator, and tennis competitor nonpareil — the Pardee RAND Graduate School has established a special way for friends, supporters, colleagues, and alumni to express their deepest appreciation for him. Please join us in saying "Omedetou gozaimasu, Dr. Wolf."

The idea of establishing a graduate school at RAND was a bold experiment when Charles was first approached to take charge of this new venture in 1970. But no one was more committed to bringing high-quality research and analysis to policymakers, and to training future generations of policy leaders, than Charles. And now, almost 45 years later, Pardee RAND — the only public policy graduate program specializing in the doctorate degree and the only one based at a public policy research organization — has grown into a preeminent school that provides a unique educational experience for a select group of students from around the world. As founding dean, he helped form Pardee RAND into the esteemed institution it is today, building its reputation and that of RAND itself through his prominence as wise strategist to leaders in business, academia, and public policy.

If you haven't already participated, you can make your gift now to the Charles Wolf, Jr. Endowed Tribute Fund and leave a personal message for Dr. Wolf in the comments section.

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Catching Up with Alumni

Peter and Linda deLeon, photo courtesy of UC Denver School of Public Affairs Gov. Hickenlooper's proclamation

Colorado Celebrates Peter deLeon

Alumnus Peter deLeon (cohort '71) and his wife Linda received a tremendous honor for their immeasurable contributions mentoring and supporting students, authoring numerous influential policy books and articles, and their service as faculty of the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado Denver over several decades. Governor Hickenlooper proclaimed Monday, August 25, 2014, to be Peter and Linda deLeon Day in Colorado!

Congratulations, Peter and Linda, for this exciting and unique honor and for truly living the Pardee RAND motto, Be the Answer.

Distinguished Alumni Gather for Commencement 2014

Alumni at Commencement 2014

It was great to see so many alumni at Commencement this year! Many thanks to Jordan's wife, Yael Silk, for this photo!

(Pictured, top row: Hui Wang, Bob Valdez, Mark Perry, Ben Mundell, Larry Picus, Ed Conrow, Ricardo Basurto, Ted Harshberger, Jeffrey Wasserman, Mike Caggiano, John Haaga, Steve Glaseman, Bruce Bennett. Bottom row: Jordan Fischbach, Rick Fallon, Brooke Stearns Lawson, Mark Albrecht, Sara Hajiamiri, Liz Brown, Eileen Hlavka, Sarah Kups, Caroline Tassot, Kay Sullivan Faith, Xiao Wang, Ruopeng An, Alessandro Malchiodi, David Johnson.)

New Job? Congratulations!

Biddle Liu Palar Waxman Zeng






Sharon Arnold (cohort '85) is now deputy director at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Andrea Biddle (cohort '86) is now executive director at Health Research Alliance, Inc. in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Ying Liu (cohort '04) is now senior manager, global market access at Biogen Idec, Inc.

Kartika Palar (cohort '06) is now a postdoctoral researcher, division of HIV/AIDS, at the University of California, San Francisco Department of Medicine.

Daniel Waxman (cohort '10) is now visiting associate professor in emergency medicine at UCLA in addition to being a natural scientist at RAND.

Feng Zeng (cohort '98) is now director of healthcare economics and analytics at West Health in San Diego.

Alumni in the News

Braitman's sculpture

Jackie Braitman's sculpture

  • Proving that Pardee RAND alum are multitalented, a public sculpture by Jackie Braitman (cohort '78) was unveiled in Washington, D.C.'s new Chuck Brown Memorial Park.
  • Arthur Brooks (cohort '96) was interviewed on Bill Moyers in a July show entitled "The Conscience of a Compassionate Conservative."
  • Angela Hawken (cohort '98), participated in a Q & A-style interview about Hawaii's Opportunity Probation with Enforcement, a program she evaluated. "We have seen small-scale trials on the mainland that suggest the approach can reduce drug use and violating behavior — but only if the model's key features are implemented with fidelity: swift, certain and proportionate sanctions."
  • In another Q & A-style interview, Athar Osama (cohort '99) sheds some light on how some of the most innovative minds in Pakistan have come together to solve the country's educational crisis via a "learning innovation hackathon."
  • Jack Riley (cohort '88) testified before the U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Subcommittee on Research and Technology and Subcommittee on Oversight on July 31, discussing Strategic Planning for Border Security. Riley also wrote a commentary in the Cincinnati Enquirer relating events in Ferguson, Mo., to his experience conducting research for the Cincinnati police: Data Key to Tackling Racial Profiling in Ferguson.

Our Newest Alumni

An Scarpati Scherer Sweeney





  • David An (cohort '10); dissertation: Critical Rare Earths, National Security, and U.S.-China Interactions: A Portfolio Approach to Dysprosium Policy Design. He is now a strategic planner at Northrup Grumman Corporation.
  • Mike Scarpati (cohort '10); dissertation: Designing Efficient Systematic Reviews Using Economical Allocation, Creation and Synthesis of Medical Evidence. He is now an algorithm and R&D scientist engineer at the American International Group (AIG) in New York City.
  • Ethan Scherer (cohort '07); dissertation: Three Essays on Education Reform in the United States. He is now an associate economist at Precision Health in Boston.
  • Nolan Sweeney (cohort '11); dissertation: Predicting Active Duty Air Force Pilot Attrition Given an Anticipated Increase in Major Airline Pilot Hiring. His next step is jet pilot training at Sheppard Air Force Base.

Congratulations and welcome to the Pardee RAND Alumni Association!

Share Your News!

For more Alumni news, visit the Pardee RAND Alumni News page.

You can also use the online form to submit your updates!

Recent Events

Summer Faculty Workshop Promotes Diversity in Policy Analysis

Faye Wattleton

Dean Marquis and Faye Wattleton

Summer Faculty Workshop participants

2014 Summer Faculty Workshop participants

As part of a continuing vision to ensure that a diversity of perspectives is represented at all levels of public policymaking, Pardee RAND hosted its second annual Summer Faculty Workshop in Policy Research and Analysis. Twelve guest faculty from institutions serving a large proportion of underrepresented minorities, primarily in the southeastern U.S., visited Santa Monica July 21-25.

Throughout the week, participants applied concepts from workshop course modules to a wide array of policy issues, with guidance and feedback from policy researchers in areas of common interest. Pardee RAND board member Faye Wattleton delivered the workshop's keynote address.

The goal of the workshop was to enable participants, who have already distinguished themselves in such fields as medicine, public health, and political science, to learn useful skills they can apply to their current research, to inspire their own students to consider careers in public service, and to help RAND strengthen ties to their institutions especially in the Southeast. Additionally, faculty members bring public policy and policy analysis into their classrooms, regardless of their discipline, thus introducing undergraduates to this field and these tools.

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Upcoming Events

September 18: Dean's Lunch in D.C.

Dean Marquis will be in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, September 18, and would like to invite you to join her for lunch if you will be in town. If you would like to attend, please email Evelyn Fees.

October 17: International Development Speaker Series Begins Eighth Season

Carol Graham of Brookings and the University of Maryland begins IDSS's season on October 17 by exploring what we know about the determinants of happiness and will then present both the promise and the potential pitfalls of injecting the "economics of happiness" into public policymaking.

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November 6-8: Join Pardee RAND at APPAM in Albuquerque, N.M.

Associate Dean Rachel Swanger, a member of the APPAM Policy Council, will be at the Fall Research Conference in New Mexico, along with several Pardee RAND students and professors. Pardee RAND will be hosting a reception. Stay tuned for more details. We hope to see you there!

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