Undergraduate Research Apprentice, Spring 2020

BITSS is recruiting three or more undergraduate students as part of the UC Berkeley Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (URAP). The apprentices will contribute to, and learn from the implementation of one or more case studies in the Open Policy Analysis (OPA) initiative.

Role description

Students can participate in one (or two) of the following three roles:

i) Data Visualization for Public Policy – develop interactive data visualizations in the form of web apps using R Shiny;

ii) Data Science for Public Policy – transpose econometric analyses into R code; or

iii) Public Policy Research and Outreach – identify policy analyses for potential application of OPA principles and support the development of common standards for OPA.

We ask that students indicate their preference for these roles as part of their applications by ranking them from 0-3, with 3 indicating their most preferred role, and 1 indicating their least preferred role, or 0 indicating a role they do not wish to take at all. We will try to delegate tasks based on students’ preferences and experiences.

Learning outcomes

All students will develop an advanced understanding of methods and analytic tools for policy analysis, as well as proficiency in critically assessing policy analyses. Depending on specific tasks and responsibilities, students may also become fluent in common tools and best practices for transparent and reproducible research, such as version control using Git, reproducible coding conventions, code and data sharing, and results reporting. Students will be working closely with BITSS Project Scientist Fernando Hoces de la Guardia.


All applicants should have at least a conceptual understanding of programming, preferably in R, Python, or Julia. Priority will be given to students who have successfully completed Data 8: Foundations of Data Science. Beyond this, preferred applicants should meet other desirable qualifications depending on the role for which they would like to be considered. We will also consider applications from highly motivated students who are willing to learn the skills specific to their role during their URAP engagement.

i) Data Visualization for Public Policy

  • Familiarity with R Shiny Knowledge of data visualization
  • Preferred background in Data Science, Computer Science, Economics, Public Policy or other quantitative fields.

ii) Data Science for Public Policy

  • Familiarity with cost-benefit analysis methods and/or microsimulation models
  • Familiarity with data cleaning and basic data manipulations
  • Preferred academic background in Data Science, Computer Science, Economics, Public Policy or other quantitative fields.

iii) Public Policy Research and Outreach

  • Good writing skills and the ability to critically assess and synthesize insights from policy reports;
  • Excellent web research skills, including the ability to quickly identify relevant datasets, code, and materials after reading a policy report;
  • Interest in learning the policy report format (e.g. California Legislative Analyst’s Office financial reports, World Bank Policy Research Reports, Congressional Budget Office, reports by policy think tank, etc.);
  • Preferred academic background in Economics, Political Science, Public Policy, or Journalism.

Weekly Hours: 9-11 hrs

How to apply

Follow the instructions and submit your application here. Applications will be open Jan. 14-27, 2020.