P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans


Russell Legate-Yang, 2024

PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Russell Legate-Yang is the child of immigrants from China and Canada

Fellowship awarded to support work towards a PhD in Economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Russell Legate-Yang was born in Boston, Massachusetts, as the son of immigrants from China and Canada. From his parents, who pursued graduate study in the United States, he inherited a love for education and science. His parents’ sacrifices for his schooling and opportunities in the United States inspire him to improve access to quality education. Similar sacrifices by other New American families drive Russell’s commitment to use research to improve society.

At the University of Chicago, Russell studied economics and mathematics and researched in economics, public policy, and political science. His work spanned school finance, energy, climate, national security, politics, and Covid-19. A concern for policy impact united and focused these diverse projects. Russell co-led a research group that partnered with governments, non-profits, and think tanks to provide practical research. In work as an economic consultant, Russell’s research also helped prosecute financial fraud. His thesis studied new ways to fund public education through government auctions and won the David S. Hu Award in Economics.

After graduating from UChicago as a Student Marshall, Russell joined Blueprint Labs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Research Fellow. At MIT, he worked with economists Josh Angrist and Parag Pathak to study school effectiveness in K-12 public education. In addition to his academic research, Russell worked with New York City Public Schools to revamp the city’s school ratings system for its over 1700 public schools and 1 million students. To understand how effectively schools help their students, the revamped system considers students’ starting points before enrolling in a school. 

Russell intends to pursue a PhD in economics to continue research that strengthens social institutions like schools, cities, and communities. His research aims to separate cause from chance in data and supply reliable evidence for policymaking. Russell hopes his research, outreach, and service will build partnerships and narrow the gap between research and practice.

  • BA Mathematics, Economics | University of Chicago 2022
  • PhD Economics | Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Student Marshal, University of Chicago
  • David S. Hu Award, University of Chicago
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow
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