Faculty/Instructor Profiles

MPP Students Gain Skills with MSU PhD candidate Katherine Harris

katieThis semester, students in Quantitative Methods II (PPL 802) will benefit from the instruction of Katie Harris. Harris is studying to receive a doctoral degree from Michigan State University’s Department of Economics. She is originally from Minneapolis and has worked as an analyst.

PPL 802 is the second course in the Master of Public Policy program’s quantitative methods sequence. In this course, students continue to develop deeper knowledge of statistical methods used in public policy research. Much of the course focuses on gaining a strong understanding of regression models. Students will undertake research projects to apply their skills to estimate policy or other effects.

“I hope they understand what information the estimates provide us and importantly, what limitations they might have in determining a causal effect,” Harris says.

These skills are an important part of understanding policy research. Students who are interested in performing their own quantitative research will build a foundation for future lessons. The quantitative methods series continues with Quantitative Methods III (PPL 803). MPP students are encouraged to take PPL 803 as an elective.


Harris recommends that students who may be interested in pursuing an economics PhD to consider the decision carefully.

“I would consult your advisors, professors and people who have economics PhDs to learn more about what an economics PhD entails and the opportunities it creates,” she says.

Harris’s fields of interest is Labor, Health and Behavioral economics. She is currently performing research that address questions of decision-making and rewards. Specifically, she is interested in “identifying whether or not individuals reward themselves for good decisions by making secondary self-indulgent decisions,” she explains. “For example, if you order a salad are you more likely to order a dessert than when you order a hamburger?”

In her spare time, Harris enjoys triathlons, hiking, snowboarding, and photography.


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