Current Research Projects

CAASI projects (2021)

From Grief to Action Initiative

Grief To Action (G2A) is a virtual community center with 100+ community members, as well as staff, alumni, faculty, and students from more than 5 universities. Each week more than 20 volunteers come together to work on projects related to systemic racism. For Spring 2021, we will continue our focus on police unions contracts and supporting Black-owned businesses. We communicate primarily on Slack channel and meet Fridays from 12-1pm on Zoom. G2A is open to all: register here for the Zoom link.

Reintegration of the previously incarcerated (FoH)

Field partner: Foundation of HOPE.

According to a study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, out of the 700,000 individuals released annually from prisons, 50% are rearrested within the first year. We design a randomized control trial (RCT) to examine the impact of encouraging released inmates to use a program that offers comprehensive support services (e.g. housing, transportation, job counseling, peer support groups, etc) . The field experiment examines 1) the extent to which small incentives can increase social service utilization rates and 2) the marginal impact of service utilization on recividism.

Funding is provided by Texas A&M College of Liberal Arts Seed Grant Program (PI Ragan Petrie, Marco Castillo), University of Pittsburgh Central Research Development Fund (PI Sera Linardi), and Rapoport Foundation (PI Sera Linardi).

Research Assistants: Joshua Timko, Xiaohong Wang, Vaibhavi Patria (UG'20), Nabila Hamzah (UG'19).

Designing a market to change travel behavior (PittSmartLiving)

Field partner: Port Authority of Allegheny County.

PittSmartLiving (PSL) is a $1.4M 3-year National Science Foundation project (NSF #1739413) hosted in University of Pittsburgh to reduce public transit congestion. The goal of the project is to design a market that connects rush hours travelers with local business discounts. Research is conducted in two labs: the PSL Data & Systems lab at SCI (led by project PI Alexandros Labrinidis (Computer Science) and Co-PI Kostas Pelechrinis (Information Science), and the PSL Human Behavior lab in CAASI (led by Co-PI Sera Linardi, GSPIA).

The PSL Human Behavior Laboratory uses applied economics theory and experiments to model the behavior of riders and businesses and design a market to connect the two. Projects includes:

  • effect of incentives on shifting travel time (Mallory Avery, Economics)

  • effect of incentives on queue joining and abandonment (Jing Luo and Leon Valdes, Operations Research)

  • estimating unobserved demand for buses (Kostas Pelechrinis and Tianfang Ma, SCI)

Spring 2019 UC Berkeley CITRIS talk: video

Unionization of low wage workers (SEIU)

Field partner: Service Employee International Union.

We are working on two projects with SEIU. The first is Pittsburgh Wage Study (Heinz Endowment, Integrative Social-Science Research Initiative Grant) with Jeffrey Shook, Ray Engel, Sara Goodkind, Helen Petracchi, and Sandy Wexler (University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work). This study involves in-depth semi-structured interviews and surveys with hospital workers and security guards. The goal is to assess the daily realities of making ends meet on low wages and assess changes after unionization and wage negotiations.

The second is a field experiment on messaging with Zoe Cullen (Harvard Business School), Ricardo Perez-Truglia (UCLA Anderson Business School), and Jeffrey Shook (University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work). This study explores ways to build long term engagement among union members.

Tipping and harassment

Field partner: Restaurant Opportunity Center

Are tipped workers harassed more? Do tipped workers tolerate more harassment? How does arrangements such as tip sharing or bearing credit card fee affect tipped workers? We have completed a set of interviews with restaurant servers and are following it up with lab/Mturk and survey experiments. This project is funded by the Social Science Research Initiative grant). The PI is Lu-in Wang (School of Law), and our Co-PIs are Carrie Leana (Katz School of Business), Sara Goodkind (School of Social Work) from the University of Pittsburgh and Zach Brewster (Wayne State University).

PhD students & RAs: Daniel Pieratt (GSPIA), Xiaohong Wang (GSPIA), Yolanda Yang (Katz).

Other projects

  • United Way 211 Project. With United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Natural language processing / decision support project with Diane Litman and Vanathi Gopalakrishnan (Intelligent Systems Program).

  • A network model of bureaucratic complexity. With Selman Erol (Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University).