Brad Hackinen

 
Faculty of Arts
Francesco Trebbi
Quadra Island
Canada
 

Research Topic

Using computational text analysis to gather new data on the behavior of various actors in political systems

Research Description

I have a few different projects in progress. The common theme is using computational text analysis to gather new data on the behavior of various actors in political systems. So I am researching polarization and partisanship using data from Twitter, helping my advisor analyze the effect of lobbying on changes in the text of US federal banking regulations, and exploring the voting behavior of regulatory advisory panels and commissions using meeting minutes and reports.

What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

I enjoy being surrounded by people who are excited about their research and willing to share their insights. 

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

I have lived in Vancouver before. It is less rainy than I remembered. 

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

UBC has a great economics program, with many talented professors. They were also willing to accept me straight out of undergrad.

 

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

After high school I worked in the computer games industry. After a few years I became bored and frustrated. I was interested in science, history, politics, and the environment, and games began to seem dull in comparison. So I went back to school at the age of twenty-three and became tremendously excited about economics. I decided to pursue a PhD when I realized that a career in economic research was a real, achievable goal.

What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?

I’m sure there will be more distant challenges, but the most intimidating thing at the moment is the job market. Getting a job in economics is a highly structured process, and you really only get one attempt to start your career.

How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?

The UBC economics program focuses on getting students good job placements. We receive lots of guidance, and I have a real sense that the professors are looking out for us.

What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

The most valuable thing I learned in my career before returning to school was how to manage my time and work independently. But the basic programming skills I learned have turned out to be pretty useful as well.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I try to get outside when I can. Vancouver has many great hiking trails within an hour or two of the city. But it is also nice to just relax with friends and fellow students.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Reach out to your fellow students at the start of your program. I was lucky to be in a cohort with some people who made a big effort to include everyone in a few simple social events. It was enough to start a tight group of friendships that have helped us all cope with the ups and downs of the program.