John (Jack) O’Leary is working with Professor Alejandro Estefan, who studies human development with the goal of informing policy decision-making in Latin America and elsewhere. O’Leary has worked on a variety of projects for Prof. Estefan, from exploratory research on conditional cash transfers to assisting on a randomized control trial studying the impact of virtual training on micro-franchises. Over the summer of 2021, O’Leary worked full-time with Prof. Estefan on a literature review and meta-analysis on the promise of digital training for business development in the developing world. Specifically relating digital training to past evaluations on in-person training and online schooling, the literature review acts as the basis for a variety of Estefan’s current and future projects.
In his senior year, O’Leary is supporting Professors Alejandro Estefan and Paul Winters in the background review, project design, and data collection of a series of projects studying the impact of digital training for entrepreneurs and farmers in and around the Amazon rainforest. Using his background knowledge on digital training and extension programs, O’Leary supports the team as they design an experiment testing how to increase user engagement on the training platforms. Simultaneously, O’Leary is writing a thesis on the use of digital training to contribute to the literature that will identify how digital training can be used as a means to promote business growth in the developing world.
O’Leary previously worked as a research assistant for the department of economics. With Dr. Isabel Hanish, O’Leary studied the effectiveness of monetary stimulus during the Covid-19 pandemic.
O’Leary has also used his economics background through work in microfinance with the Jubilee Initiative for Financial Inclusion. JIFFI is a student-run non-profit that provides micro-loans to the South Bend community as an alternative to predatory lending options.
Thesis Title: Increasing Farmer Engagement with SMS Extension Platforms Through Personification of the Advice