Lin is using his MSCAPP skills as RegLab Research Fellow at Stanford Law School.
Headshot of Qiwei Lin
Qiwei Lin

“My interest in the intersection of policy and data started in my junior year of undergrad at the University of Michigan,” said Qiwei Lin, MSCAPP'22. “I was trying to find the bridge between my two majors, political science and statistics, when I took a course on conducting political research through randomized control trials. I subsequently used Bayesian models and machine learning algorithms in my honors thesis to discover factors that affect the risk of experiencing domestic violence for women in 53 developing countries.”

His honors thesis, Lin said, also showed him that translating research into actionable policy required more than knowledge of machine learning. “I also needed policy knowledge.”

Lin was drawn to the flexibility of the Master of Science in Computational Analysis and Public Policy (MSCAPP) program at Harris. “I was looking for a curriculum that was very technical but would still allow me the freedom to take elective courses that interest me. Other schools didn’t seem to have that flexibility. The MSCAPP program presented new skills in computer science and policy insights from faculty members skilled in addressing legal, ethical, and equity concerns about using computer science for social good.”

The summer after his first year at Harris, Lin held two short-term positions at the World Bank. “First, I worked as a Remote Sensing Analyst for the Social Sustainability and Inclusion division. I collected and analyzed publicly available data on Ukrainian sub-national units to identify environmentally or socioeconomically vulnerable regions. Then, I took on more of a data engineering role for the Development Impact Evaluation (DIME) division. I gathered data and conducted geospatial analysis to construct a wealth index that will allow the research team to track development at the neighborhood level in Delhi, India. Both roles showed me how data can best be used to address development challenges.”

While at Harris, Lin was deeply engaged in the Harris community. First, he served as a teaching assistant for Math & Coding Camp. “I would often take notes and send them to Chinese students who were unable to attend in person due to the stringent visa restrictions in place last year. Some had never coded in R before, and I encouraged them to reach out to me directly if they ever had any questions.” Lin also served as an Orientation Leader for the incoming class of 2023, where he emphasized the value of community. “Although most activities were remote, I actually had some very personal interactions with incoming students. Whether it was career planning, course recommendations, or just overall tips for success, I wanted to be a valuable resource for them.”

In his final year of the program, Lin served as a Research Assistant for the Center for Spatial Data Science where he automated the workflow for collecting and scraping data used in visualizations and reports. “Through the MSCAPP courses I took on database management and geospatial analysis, I’ve gotten more experience in data engineering: it was incredibly useful when tackling data infrastructure in that position.”

Now, as a Research Fellow with the Regulation, Evaluation, and Governance Lab (RegLab) at Stanford Law School, Lin is part of an interdisciplinary team of legal experts, data scientists, social scientists, and engineers who are building an evidence base and high impact demonstration projects for better government.  “I’m excited that I am able to continue addressing policy issues by developing and utilizing computational and machine learning methods.”