P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans


Laura Nicolae, 2022

PhD, Harvard University

Laura Nicolae is the child of immigrants from Romania

Fellowship awarded to support work towards a PhD in Business Economics at Harvard University

Born in Topeka, Kansas, Laura Nicolae is the daughter of immigrants from Romania who came to the United States to complete their medical training and find work as physicians. Her father defected from the Romanian communist regime, while her mother immigrated to the US after the regime fell during the Romanian Revolution of 1989. Laura’s family members often told her stories about the surveillance, oppression, and restrictions on civil liberties that they experienced under the Romanian communist regime, inspiring Laura’s early interest in public policy.

Laura graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 2020, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts with highest honors in applied mathematics and economics and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. She won several awards for her undergraduate thesis, including Harvard’s John T. Dunlop Prize for the top undergraduate thesis in business and government and Harvard’s Thomas Temple Hoopes Prize for outstanding senior theses.

Laura is currently a PhD student in business economics at Harvard University, where she studies monetary policy and macroeconomics. She focuses on how changes in the interest rates controlled by monetary policy transmit through the financial system to affect lending, inflation, and employment. In particular, she studies how monetary policy and financial regulation can be improved to help stabilize the economy during recessions and boost economic growth.

Growing up, Laura’s interactions with recent immigrants in her community exposed her to the financial hardships that immigrants face because they lack family connections and financial support in the US, making them particularly dependent on loans to invest in education or small businesses. These observations convinced Laura of the importance of ensuring access to credit and financial opportunities, which are key priorities for monetary and fiscal policy.

  • PhD Business Economics | Harvard University 2026
  • AB Applied Mathematics | Harvard University 2020
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