Milosh wants to apply the skills she gains in the MSCAPP to address questions that directly apply to her home country of Russia.
Headshot of Maria Milosh
Maria Milosh

“I guess when you grow up in Russia, you just have to ask yourself a lot of questions about why people behave the way they behave,” said Maria Milosh, a second-year Master of Science in Computational Analysis and Public Policy student, “because some of the things people do collectively are very weird: like not voting. Many young people don't really participate in political activity. I didn't see any easy, available answers to why this was, and that led me to social research and eventually public policy.”

Milosh’s interest in social research began with her BA in political science in 2018 from National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow. A passionate researcher and programmer, Milosh sought multiple teaching assistant (TA) and research assistant (RA) positions during her undergraduate studies. “I was fortunate in that many of those positions consisted of performing research and data analysis linked with my interests in civil conflicts, political violence and repressions, and media in autocracies.”

Milosh’s undergraduate experience also included a somewhat nontraditional experiential research component. “In 2017, I attended an anti-corruption protest: it was the first time I ever attended a protest. After that, I became fascinated by the question of how people decide to participate in any kind of potentially dangerous social action. I'm still fascinated by it, which is one of the reasons I chose to pursue the MSCAPP at Harris. I want to apply the skills I gain here to address questions that directly apply to my country.”

Milosh said she initially considered pursuing a PhD after earning her BA but sought work and life experience before making the decision. “I found a Research Assistant position at UChicago with [Assistant Professor] Austin Wright and moved to America. The experience was great exposure to what social research looks like and how exactly it's done on a daily basis, and Wright was absolutely amazing as a mentor, researcher, and teacher.” In her RA role, Milosh oversaw data gathering, cleaning, visualizations, and more. She also worked with John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor Konstantin Sonin on numerous projects and was featured in a byline of a working paper in the Washington Post in April for a collaborative project about how people’s choice to wear or not to wear masks is related to their political preferences.

Milosh reconsidered her academic and career future in light of her Harris experience. “After my introductory experience at Harris, I realized I wanted to apply myself where I could make a difference more directly. I really want to do something good for people around me in my lifetime, and many things I am inspired to do are the result of this desire. When I realized my interests could do the most good in a field related to tech policy, I was inspired to apply to the MSCAPP program at Harris.”

While skill-based courses like math and microeconomics have been key to the program, Milosh said she has enjoyed exploring topics new to her, such as urban economics and discrete mathematics. "Urban economics was a fascinating course that explained a lot about social dynamics in a city that I wasn't aware of, and discrete math provided a new way of structuring my way of thinking. I appreciate that the University provides a lot of opportunities for that exploration. It’s definitely part of what makes the MSCAPP everything I wanted. I know I’ll be able to meld my interests in programming and social research to do good for others.”