Meet Marina Mavungu Ngoma, AG23

School: Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Degree: Ph.D. in Economics and Public Policy

Home: Wherever I’m closest to my loved ones.

What’s the focus of your studies?

My research is focused on development economics, with some overlap in international economics, cultural economics, and public policy. In my dissertation, I explored the role of international trade and industrial policy in shaping the process of structural transformation in low-income countries, particularly with regards to the rise of manufacturing employment. Policy has long been an interest of mine; it was the field I worked in back in my home country, Congo, and it’s something I’ve always been drawn toward.

Why Tufts?

I was completing a master’s program in policy economics and I was looking for a Ph.D. program in either economics or public policy—and then I found the Tufts program in both, so that was ideal for me. Also, I very much wanted to work with my current advisor, because I knew the work she does in Africa around questions of structural transformation and development in international economics. Now she’s my advisor for my dissertation. I’m grateful I had the chance to work with her and find other advisors who supported and guided me through this learning process.

What have you learned during your time here that surprised you?

There are many differences between the educational system here and the one in Congo. When I got here, I noticed differences especially in the intensity of the program, the availability of resources, and the place of research in academia. Also, I was surprised to learn about myself that I’m not as much of an introvert as I thought I was. I learned how to work in teams—and I learned that I wanted to work in teams; I’d always thought I wanted to work alone.

One word that describes you?

I’m a perfectionist. I think being in school for a long time might have affected that. You spend so much time working in a setting where you are graded that you naturally think about whether what you’re doing is good enough—and you end up trying to perfect it. Sometimes it’s not ideal, because you might have something to share but you hold yourself back because it doesn’t feel fully formed.

What’s next for you?

I’ll be joining Toronto Metropolitan University as an assistant professor of economics, and before then I’ll be working as a fellow at the World Bank.

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