I am a professor of economics and international studies at the University of San Francisco, where I have been since finishing my Ph.D. in 1996 at the University of California at Berkeley. I am also an affiliated researcher at the Kellogg Institute of International Studies at the University of Notre Dame and the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) at UC Berkeley. My research interests lie in the use of econometric, experimental, and game-theoretic tools to analyze the impact of development programs, especially in the areas of credit, education, and health. Some of my recent work examines the impacts of international child sponsorship (six countries), microfinance (Nepal), in-kind donations such as farm animals (Rwanda), wheelchairs for the disabled (Ethiopia), TOMS shoe donation (El Salvador), and clean-burning wood stoves (Guatemala). I am also interested in the role that hope, aspirations, perseverance, and other character traits play in escaping poverty traps.
I am also a writer for Christianity Today and try to be a semi-regular contributor to op-ed columns for San Francisco Bay Area newspapers. My first book Games In Economic Development is published by Cambridge University Press, and my recent economics novel, The Taste of Many Mountains, about a group of graduate students investigating fair trade coffee in Guatemala, is published by Thomas Nelson (HarperCollins). I also serve as one of the co-leaders of Mayan Partners, a small faith-based non-profit organization working in the western highlands of Guatemala, and as faculty advisor for the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at USF. I live in Berkeley with my wonderful wife Leanne and our two young daughters, Allie and Kayla. From January to July in 2015 we lived in Oaxaca, Mexico, where I was writing and doing field research with a randomized controlled trial exploring the role of hope and aspirations in the effectiveness of microfinance.