Faculty Q&A: Lucy Sorensen
Name: Lucy Sorensen
Title: Assistant Professor
Department: Public Administration and Policy
What brought you to Rockefeller and how long have you been here?
I came to Rockefeller College three years ago to join the faculty as an applied economist after completing my PhD in Public Policy at Duke University.
Tell us about your research interests and why you are passionate about this topic?
I am primarily interested in education policy. My family moved a lot while I was growing up, and so I experienced many different types of environments and types of schools. Over time, I was struck by the enormous influence that where you live and where you go to school can have on your life’s trajectory. This observation motivated me to study in depth the sources of educational inequality, and to do research that could inform policy solutions.
What do you want the public to know about your research? Why is your topic important?
So much of education research looks at the effects of practices or policies on standardized reading and math test scores. This is largely because test score data is easy to get and use. But one thing I’ve learned through my research is that these are highly imperfect proxy measures for the outcomes we actually care about, such as success in the job market, informed citizenship, and physical and mental health. Finding interventions that meaningfully improve students’ long-term well-being beyond just test scores is a more challenging task, but it is the part of my future research that I am most excited about.
What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is getting to know students. For example, I teach the core MPA economics course, which is a class that many students are not excited about at the outset. Watching students throughout the semester as they embrace (or challenge) the main themes, find ways to relate their own personal and professional experiences to economics, and persevere through tough problem sets and exams is rewarding. I especially love to get emails and visits from students after they graduate to hear what they are up to.
Do you have any pets?
I have a dog named Lex (a Miniature Pinscher) and a cat named Timmy (a big jerk).
What are your favorite hobbies?
My favorite hobbies are board games, hiking, rock climbing, trying out new foods/restaurants, and watching Netflix.
What’s your favorite food to eat or cook?
I really like to cook and eat breakfast foods; I feel strongly that breakfast is an appropriate meal for any time of the day.
In which Hogwarts house would you be sorted?
According to a highly-reliable online quiz, I would be sorted into Ravenclaw. I suppose this makes sense for a professor, since the house’s founder Rowena Ravenclaw “prized learning above all else.”
What is your favorite sports team?
My favorite sports team is the Philadelphia Eagles. You may have heard of them from their 2018 Super Bowl championship win.