Graduate Student Researcher (California Policy Lab)

The California Policy Lab (CPL) creates data-driven insights for the public good. Our mission is to partner with California’s state and local governments to generate scientific evidence that solves California’s most urgent problems, including homelessness, poverty, crime, and education inequality. We facilitate close working partnerships between policymakers and researchers at UCLA and UC Berkeley to help evaluate and improve public programs through rigorous empirical research and technical assistance.

We are seeking a Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) to assist with research related to social safety net programs administered by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), such as CalFresh, CalWORKS, MediCal, and WIC. The state seeks to better understand who is participating in those programs, whether families take-up all the benefits available to them, whether there are relevant differences across counties and demographic groups, and how well the state is doing to close the poverty gap. This is a great chance to work on policy-relevant research using a rare linked administrative dataset. The GSR will have the opportunity to work with Professors Hilary Hoynes and Jesse Rothstein.

For interested PhD candidates, there is some potential that this could turn into a dissertation, although this initial research would not be for publication and we have no commitments from CDSS as to ongoing data availability.


The GSR will contribute to data management, analysis, and writing for deliverables focusing on social safety net programs for California’s low-income families. As the data reside in Sacramento, the position would require regular travel to Sacramento, approximately 2-4 days per week during the summer.

Tasks include:

  • Compiling, cleaning, and analyzing data on CalFresh, CalWORKS, MediCal, WIC, and other social safety net programs.
  • Building a framework for further analysis of the data by, for example, writing data dictionaries.
  • Summarizing findings and their relevance. Presenting to policymakers and analyzing potential policy solutions.
  • Managing, organizing, and formatting citations.

Required skills and experience:

Desired skills and experience:

  • Experience creating maps and graphics with Tableau, R, or GIS
  • Background in issues and policies relating to the social safety net


10-20 hours per week through spring semester, then 20-40 hours per week over the summer, with possibility of renewal at 10-20 hours per week for fall semester. As the data reside in Sacramento, the position would require regular travel to Sacramento, anywhere from 2-4 days per week over the summer.

How to Apply:

Send a resume, cover letter, and writing sample to Evan White at The application deadline is Friday, April 21st but applications will be accepting on a rolling basis before then.