In this week’s interview on The Mixtape with Scott, I had the opportunity to meet with the James Orin Murfin Professor of Political Science at Princeton University, Dr. Rocío Titiunik. Within the world of applied econometric methodology, Dr. Titiunik is well known for her theoretical work on regression discontinuity design. Her work with coauthors like Sebastian Calonico, Matias Cattaneo, and Max Farrell has shaped the landscape of applied econometrics through their innovative work in econometrics as well as their construction of numerous software packages in R, Stata and now python of practical utility. But she is a dual threat quarterback who is both an important contemporary quantitative methodologist as well as an influential political scientist whose applied work explores the intersection of political institutions and causal inference. That work has been instrumental in expanding our understanding of political participation, legislative behavior, and the intricacies of elections and representation.
However, there's more to Rocío than the accolades on her resume. Beneath the scholarly achievements and methodological innovations is the story of a journey that will, I think, surprise many listeners. We often look at accomplished people and just assume that all the pieces fell into place for them from the moment they stepped foot into academia. But Rocío tells a different story about her path. She talks openly about her first introduction to economics occurring, not through statistics and econometrics, but theory and literature. Her entrance into Berkeley’s celebrated ag Econ PhD program happened almost serendipitously. And even while there, she was unsure how all the different parts of her personality might form within her — or if they ever would. During our conversation, she opened up about the struggles, uncertainties, and the feeling of being lost in the vast tapestry of the economics profession. Her openness and authenticity were refreshing and the interview provided a stark reminder that even the most successful among us grapple with similar doubts and fears, just like the rest of us.
This conversation offers more than just an overview of Rocio's professional accomplishments. It paints a portrait of a person who, despite her status in academia, remains grounded and relatable. Her story is one of perseverance and self-discovery that will resonate with anyone who has ever questioned their path or grappled with finding their unique fit in their chosen field.
Join me in this week's episode as we journey through Rocio's life, her work, and the lessons she's gleaned along the way. As much as it is an exploration of her contributions to political methodology, it is also a celebration of the human experience in all its complexity. And if you want to learn more from Dr. Titiunik’s work, you can come to her upcoming workshop at Mixtape Sessions where for three days she will be teaching about regression discontinuity design. Please remember to like, share and subscribe!
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