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

Dr. 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 currently an Affiliated Researcher of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), a Nonresident Fellow at the Brookings Institution and a Research Fellow at the IZA Institute Labor Economics. Previously, she was a Senior Economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston where she conducted research on regional economic and policy issues for over a decade.

Dr. Modestino’s current research focuses on labor and health economics including youth development, skills mismatch, 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 $10 million in external funding, including grants from Arnold Ventures, the Doris Duke Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the William T. Grant Foundation.

Last year, Dr. Modestino launched Community to Community (C2C): Policy Equity for All, a new $4.8 million initiative across Northeastern’s global campus network. Working in partnership with city departments, state agencies, and community-based organizations C2C provides rigorous data and analysis to find solutions to the most urgent public problems at each campus location.

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
  • University Global Network Accelerator Award, Northeastern University, 2023
  • 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.


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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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).

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