Zack Barnett-Howell is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Political Science and Agricultural & Applied Economics at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. His research and teaching are in the field of international relations with a specific focus on the application of new methods. His dissertation, “Essays on decision-making and optimization under uncertainty,” examines how states and individuals make decisions when outcomes and the underlying state-space are unknown. His work on international migration uses remittance inflows to estimate latent policies that states implement to encourage out-migration. His more economic-facing work looks at the microeconomic determinants of migration and other forms of discrete decision-making, using machine-learning and lab experiments to further test the optimality with which people make choices.
His broader research interests include applications of quantitative methodology, including interdisciplinary work with other subfields and disciplines. His work in progress includes collaborating with climate scientists at Johns Hopkins to estimate the long-run impact of climate change of smallholder agriculture and working with political theorists to design lab tests of whether virtual reality can be used to prime participants' imagination, and how that can change their willingness to accept alternative viewpoints.