Valerie Bostwick is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Economics at The Ohio State University whose research focuses on the economics of education, with a particular interest in policy-relevant issues affecting post-secondary students. She earned her PhD in Economics from the University of California Santa Barbara. Valerie and IRIS co-PI Bruce Weinberg recently published a NBER working paper (DOI:10.3386/w25028) which examines outcomes for female PhD students using IRIS UMETRICS data. We asked Valerie to share a bit about her research with IRIS. (Since this interview, she has moved to Kansas State University as an Assistant Professor in the Economics Department).
When did you start working with IRIS data and why?
I was introduced to the IRIS data through my post-doctoral position working with Bruce Weinberg. I think it provides a very interesting window into the huge black box within STEM graduate education that is the research/lab experience.
What are the implications of your research for other researchers/ academics in the field?
My recent research on the impact of gender composition on STEM doctoral persistence has obvious implications for fellow academics and economists. Economics has one of the lower enrollment rates of female doctoral students among STEM disciplines, so it is especially important that we make a conscious effort to foster a female-friendly environment within our universities and departments. We can also endeavor to encourage female undergraduates who we teach and/or mentor to consider pursuing STEM doctoral studies.
What excites you about IRIS data?
I’m excited at the prospect of connecting IRIS data to more transcript-style data (as we were able to do for Ohio in this paper). Having enrollment and demographic data linked to UMETRICS for the broad set of universities in IRIS would be incredibly valuable for studying the graduate student experience and the impact of research experience among undergraduates.