"PhD is an exciting intellectual journey. Immerse yourself in research..."

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Alp Sungu

PhD in Management Science and Operations

What is your doctoral research about?

My doctoral research seeks to understand some of the fundamental trade-offs for expanding poverty eradication, with applications to technology, sustainability and social disparity.

Could you tell us more about an exciting project you worked on?

Little is known about junk food habits in low-income areas and how government food policies affects these choices. To experimentally investigate this we tracked individuals’ shopping baskets across a network of informal groceries in a disadvantaged community, and opened up a storefront in the same community to distribute food subsidies.

We discovered that the less affluent spends an exorbitant amount of money on packaged snacks, possibly indicating sub-optimal health investments. Intriguingly, when provided with food subsidies, their purchase of junk food declined, and they bought more complementary items like spices. This suggests that beyond filling individuals’ stomachs, subsidies may also encourage a shift in the nutritional decisions of the poor, from snacking outside towards home-cooked meals.

During this study, I spent several months in an impoverished community in India, forging personal connections with the local community.

Do you have any advice for applicants and prospective Ph.D. students?

PhD is an exciting intellectual journey. You will be pushing the frontiers of scientific knowledge in your field, and there is no syllabus. Immerse yourself in your research, and enjoy looking at the world through different lenses.