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The Mittal Institute’s Graduate Student Associates showcased their research, what they have been working on this semester, and highlights of past field work experiences at the annual Graduate Student Associate Showcase. GSAs Sarah Shaukat, Akhil Thomas and Ronak Jain all presented their scholarship to an audience. Sarah’s research explored female entrepreneurs in Pakistan. Akhil traced religious evolution in South Asia. And Ronak shared her work on academic performance and teacher expectations in developing countries. 

Sarah Shaukat
Sarah Shaukat is a third-year Ph.D student in the economics and public policy program at Tufts University. She gave her talk via Zoom as she was still based in Pakistan while concluding her research. Sarah researches networks for female entrepreneurs in Pakistan and the hurdles they face as well as the possible paths forward in helping small-scale female business owners grow. Next steps include creating networks for these female business owners via WhatsApp groups as well connecting women both online and in-person. 

Ronak Jain
Ronak Jain is a Ph.D. student in Economics at Harvard University and shared her research on teacher expectation and student outcomes via experimental evidence collected over the course of several months at select private schools in Pakistan. Ronak and her co-authors worked with roughly 1,500 students to assess their motivation and expectations in the classroom by developing methods to not only share expectations via the teacher, but also by custom-made graphics. Their results have indicated that teacher expectations on students helped increase performance; they also measured the effect of parental literacy and peer encouragement on test scores. 

Akhil Thomas
Akhil Thomas is a doctoral student in South Asian Religions. He shared his early research into Hindu south India and Indian Christianities with a focus on Syrian Christianity. Akhil also looks at the intersection of religious cultures and shared performances of Indian christian poems performed in traditional styles.  He discussed the post-colonial nature of the first Indian-Christian poem in Malayalam being written by a German Jesuit priest, Johann Ernst Hanxleden. Below are the videos Akhil shared: