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Associate Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and Economics; Research Director, Dukakis Center

Alicia Sasser Modestino is an Associate Professor with appointments in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and the Department of Economics at Northeastern University, where she also serves as the Research Director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy. She is also a Research Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Woman and Public Policy Program, a Non-Resident Fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, and an Affiliated Researcher of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at MIT. Previously, Dr. Modestino was a Senior Economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston where she led numerous research projects on regional economic and policy issues for over a decade.

Dr. Modestino’s current research focuses on labor and health economics including youth development, changing employer skill requirements, childcare, and the opioid crisis. Much of her research is interdisciplinary and involves large-scale empirical evaluations to determine underlying causal relationships using a variety of data, methods, and techniques. She has amassed over $8 million in external funding, including grants from the Arnold Foundation, J-PAL, the National Science Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the Social Innovation Fund, and the William T. Grant Foundation. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed publications and her research has been covered extensively in the media. In her capacity as Research Director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, she has developed robust researcher-practitioner partnerships with both city and state agencies to translate her research findings into new policies and practices.

Dr. Modestino holds both a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University, where she also served as a doctoral fellow in the Inequality and Social Policy Program at the Kennedy School of Government.

View CV
  • Outstanding Faculty Research Team Award, College of Engineering, Northeastern University, 2020
  • Outstanding Teaching Award, College of Social Science and Humanities, Northeastern University, 2019
  • Principal Investigator. “The Long-Term Impacts of Summer Youth Employment Programs on Outcomes.” Arnold Foundation, Total=$273,667, January 2022-August 2023.
  • Co-Principal Investigator (with Jared Auclair). “BioConnects New England.” Economic Development Agency, Build Back Better Regional Challeneg, Total=$500,000, January 2022-December 2023.
  • Principal Investigator. “Building a more holistic and inclusive workforce development system for Boston’s Youth.” William T. Grant Foundation, Total=$649,557, July 2021-June 2024.
  • Co-Principal Investigator (with Mohsen Moghaddam, Kemi Jona, Stacy Marsella, and Nick Wilson). “FW-HTF-P: Training an Agile, Adaptive Workforce for the Future of Manufacturing with Intelligent Augmented Reality (IAR).” National Science Foundation, Total=$2,100,00, September, 2021-August, 2024.
  • Co-Principal Investigator (with Gary Young and Md Noor E Alam). “Strategies to Improve Adherence for Treatment with Buprenorphine/Naloxone” Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Total=$194,100, January 2021-August 2021.
  • Co-Principal Investigator (with Taskin Padir, Kristian Kloeckl, John Basl, and Kemi Jona). “Collaborative Robots to Impact Seafood Processing (CRISP): Designs, Tools and Methods for Enhanced Worker Experience.” National Science Foundation, Future of Work at the Human Technology Frontier program, Total=$2,500,000, September 2019-August 2023.
  • Co-Principal Investigator (lead, with Gary Young and Md. Noor-E-Alam). “A Community Health Center Buyback Program to Reduce the Supply of Opioids to Secondary Users.” Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Total=$48,552, February 2019-December 2022.
  • Principal Investigator. “A Multi-Year Evaluation of Boston Summer Youth Employment Program Features to Reduce Inequality Across Groups.” William T. Grant Foundation, Total=$280,714, July 2017-June 2019.
  • Co-Principal Investigator (with Agnes Chan). “Increasing Qualified Cybersecurity Educators: Market Study on Shortages of Educators.” National Security Administration, Total=$150,000, May 2017-December 2017.
  • Co-Principal Investigator (lead, with Daniel Shoag). “Upskilling: Why Do Employers Demand Greater Skill When Workers Are Plentiful?” Russell Sage Foundation, Total =$34,477, January 2016-December 2017.
  • Co-Principal Investigator (with Trinh Nguyen). “Citi Community Development Concept Proposal: Youth Credit Building Initiative.” Citi Community Development Foundation, Total=$260,750, January 2016-December 2017.

Publications:

Working Papers:

  • Research Fellow, Women and Public Policy Program, Harvard Kennedy School, 2020-
  • Affiliated Researcher, Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at MIT, 2020-
  • Non-Resident Scholar, Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C., 2016-

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Courses

Course catalog
  • Offers an opportunity for student teams, in partnership with a local, state, or federal agency or nonprofit institution, to assess an urban or regional problem, produce a thorough policy analysis, and present it and recommended solutions to the agency or institution. Course readings focus on materials needed to assess the problem and provide solutions. This is a faculty-guided team project for students completing course work in urban and regional policy studies.

  • Introduces the fundamentals of macroeconomics and microeconomics as well as the role of key economic institutions, such as the Federal Reserve. Includes analysis of government’s role in a market economy and introduces methods of economic analysis.

  • Covers the theoretical and empirical issues surrounding current topics in the area of labor economics. Topics may vary each time the course is offered and may include discrimination, efficiency wage theory, labor legislation, life cycle analysis, and the use of microdata (panel studies, search behavior, intergenerational earnings mobility, and employment and training policies).

Alicia Sasser’s Colleagues

Max Abrahms

Associate Professor of Political Science

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Amílcar Antonio Barreto

Professor & Chair, Cultures, Societies, and Global Studies; Professor & Interim Director, International Affairs; Professor, Political Science; Affiliated faculty member of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies; Affiliated faculty member in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs

Headshot of Barry Bluestone

Barry Bluestone

Russell B. and Andree B. Stearns Trustee Professor Emeritus of Political Economy; Founding Director of the Dukakis Center; Founding Dean of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs

Christopher Bosso

Professor of Public Policy

Headshot of Alan Clayton-Matthews

Alan Clayton-Matthews

Associate Professor Emeritus of Economics and Public Policy

William Dickens

University Distinguished Professor of Economics and Public Policy

Joan Fitzgerald

Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs

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Stephen E. Flynn

Professor of Political Science; Founding Director, Global Resilience Institute

Headshot of James Alan Fox

James Alan Fox

Lipman Family Professor of Criminology, Law, and Public Policy

Headshot of Brian Helmuth

Brian Helmuth

Professor of Environmental Science and Public Policy

Timothy Hoff

Professor of Management, Healthcare Systems and Public Policy

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William Kay

Associate Professor of Political Science

Headshot of David Lazer

David Lazer

University Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Computer Sciences, Co-Director of NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks

Headshot of Dietmar Offenhuber

Dietmar Offenhuber

Associate Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and Art + Design

Headshot of Kwamina Panford

Kwamina Panford

Associate Professor of Cultures, Societies and Global Studies