13 Apr 2022

Two Harvard Business School Community Members Named 2022 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows

As “New Americans,” Each Awarded $90,000 for Graduate School

Two members of the Harvard Business School (HBS) community, current doctoral student Laura Nicolae and incoming MS/MBA candidate Trang Luu (MS/MBA 2024), have been awarded a 2022 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, a merit-based graduate school program for 30 immigrants and children of immigrants.

Chosen from a pool of over 1,800 applicants, Nicolae and Luu were selected for their potential to make significant contributions to the United States. They will each receive up to $90,000 to support their graduate studies. They join 10 other Harvard affiliated students who are also being honored.

Luu will be pursuing an MS/MBA, a joint program between HBS and the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering & Applied Sciences (SEAS), in engineering sciences.

Nicolae is studying business economics at Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, in a PhD joint degree program that combines the Harvard Economics PhD program with support from HBS. We caught up with her to learn more about her research, her time here at HBS, and being named a Soros Fellow.

HBS doctoral student and 2022 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Laura Nicolae.

Tell us a little about yourself—what you did before HBS and how you came to be here.

My parents are immigrants from Romania. I grew up in Topeka, Kansas, where almost all of my best friends were children of immigrants, too. I left Kansas after high school to go to Harvard College; I graduated in 2020 with highest honors in applied math and economics. During college, I worked on several research projects with Harvard economics faculty, who inspired my interest in monetary policy and my desire to pursue a PhD in economics. After college, I worked for one year in economics research at Goldman Sachs in New York, where I researched and forecasted changes in the macroeconomy during the acute phases of the coronavirus pandemic, before coming back to Harvard to start my PhD in economics.

What is your area of research and what are you currently working on?

My research 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, I study how monetary policy and financial regulation can be improved to help stabilize the economy during recessions and boost economic growth while also preventing high inflation of the kind that we’ve seen in the US over the past year. I became obsessed with monetary policy in college after I read the research of several HBS finance professors, such as Sam Hanson and Adi Sunderam, and Harvard economics professor Jeremy Stein, all of whom are my mentors in the PhD program today.

What has your experience at HBS been like?

All of the faculty and staff at HBS are extremely kind and attentive to the needs of students. Both during my PhD and in college, I have often spontaneously emailed HBS faculty with questions about monetary policy at odd hours, and I have always gotten detailed and thorough responses. HBS faculty and visiting fellows have always been very willing to meet and discuss my random thoughts on monetary policy and the macroeconomy. I have also learned a lot from watching the faculty ask very sharp questions during our macro and finance seminars and reading groups.

What was your reaction when you found out you were named a Soros fellow?

One of my most deeply held beliefs is that immigrants make the US a much better place, so I very much admire the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship’s mission of supporting immigrants and the children of immigrants in pursuing advanced education. I know that I am only able to do so because of my parents’ support for my education from a very early age. I am confident that without my parents’ investment in my math education since childhood, I would not have been able to succeed as an applied math major at Harvard College. By recognizing new Americans, the Soros Fellowship recognizes the real source and reason for my academic successes.

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