Ávila-Uribe’s international journey, exposure to data-driven fields, and experience at Harris continue to influence her professional goals and career trajectory.
Headshot of Eloísa Ávila-Uribe
Eloísa Ávila-Uribe

Before embarking on the Master of Arts in Public Policy with a Certificate in Research Methods (MACRM) program at the Harris School of Public Policy, Eloísa Ávila-Uribe earned her undergraduate degree in international economics and business from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Spain and started working as a Market Research Consultant focused on the African continent. “Doing research in African countries changed my perspective about the kind of work I wanted to do. I fell in love with the data, the conversations, and the insights I gained from surveys and talking to people.”

Ávila-Uribe’s initial experience with graduate education began in Pittsburgh. "I started an MPP program in 2019 but realized that I wanted a stronger focus on academic and research-oriented skills. That combined with the onset of COVID-19, and my work as a Government Policy Consultant through IDinsight in Senegal and Morocco, motivated me to seek a program that resonated more with my interests."

After one-and-a-half years of policy work, Ávila-Uribe chose the MACRM program because of its academic quantitative focus and the Harris faculty. “I also really appreciated that my areas of interest aligned with research being done by Harris faculty. After speaking with three MACRM students and Professor Raul Sanchez de la Sierra—whose research on corruption and conflict in Congo fascinated me —I knew the MACRM would be the experience I wanted.” Ávila-Uribe also noted that research by Professors Eduardo Montero and Luis Martinez played an important role her decision. 

Ávila-Uribe’s time at Harris, she said, pushed her boundaries and expanded her quantitative capabilities. "Econometrics III allowed me to independently understand the technicalities of the research frontier papers I learned about in Political Economy for Development, and my work as a Research Assistant allowed me to put some of those concepts in practice."

Ávila-Uribe said she especially appreciated the apprenticeship required by the MACRM program. “I identified a very data-intensive project about patronage within the Italian mafia that needed the exact tasks I wanted to work on, allowing me to work very autonomously on huge datasets. Then, in summer 2023, I worked with Professors Maria Angélica Bautista and James Robinson on projects that analyzed different forms of government in pre-colonial Nigeria, aiming to understand how institutions reacted to influences from more powerful kingdoms—and whether they adapted or innovated—depending on myriad cultural and socio-political factors.”

Currently, Ávila-Uribe works as a pre-doc for Professor Bautista and Professor Robinson, a role she will continue through the next academic year, and also as a preceptor for the Public Policy BA Thesis Seminar. "My preceptor work is extremely satisfying because I get to see how my advice impacts the new generation of students who transform their initial ideas into impressive research papers."

Looking further ahead, Ávila-Uribe will be applying for a PhD related to political economy, political science, and economics. "Professionally, research makes me happy. I want to contribute to this field academically, but also trying to find a way to promote collaboration and healthy work-life balances, which I think are not the norm yet. I want to focus on international development, promoting effective and efficient governments in Africa and Latin America.”

Ávila-Uribe’s advice to future Harris students is that they learn, as quickly as possible, to be comfortable asking for help. "If you don't know or can't figure something out, ask questions. Your classmates will learn by teaching. I was very fortunate to have an incredibly smart, kind, and supportive group of classmates, who are now really close friends. And at some point, when you get the chance to explain something to them, you'll put all your effort into it, because you'll know how hard it is to ask questions among a group of very smart peers. "