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Difference-Making Research

Marina Gorsuch ’08 came to Earlham because she wanted a rigorous liberal arts education while living in an inclusive and diverse community.

“It just felt right,” Gorsuch says of her campus visit. “I only applied to Earlham and one safe school.”

But her pursuit of an economics major wasn’t decided until returning from Earlham’s Mexico study abroad program and becoming active in student politics and advocacy groups on campus.

“As part of my study abroad program, I did an ethnographic study on the role of the traditional Mexican marketplace,” Gorsuch says. “I worked 10 hours a week in a fruit and vegetable stall and became really interested in the prices.

“Why did prices of some products change a lot while others never changed? Why do different people pay different prices? Why does a hurricane in southern Mexico affect tomato prices in central Mexico?” she wondered. “So, when I got back to Earlham, I took intro to microeconomics and never looked back.”  

Now a research scientist for the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota, Gorsuch works with an interdisciplinary team of economists, sociologists and public health researchers that integrates — or harmonizes — federal population data. The center’s work provides free datasets to thousands of researchers, policymakers, teachers and students.

“Our work can make a positive difference in the world,” Gorsuch says. “On the research side of things, I develop ways to reduce discrimination in the labor market, and through data dissemination, we make it easier for researchers to do high-quality research.”

After Earlham, Gorsuch earned her master’s degree in economics from Tufts University in 2010 and her Ph.D. in public policy from Duke University in 2015.

Her dissertation research used laboratory and field experiments to test different types of discrimination in the labor market. Her research has been published in the Review of Economics of the Household and the American Journal of Public Health.

"The economics major at Earlham prepared me extremely well for my graduate coursework in economics,” Gorsuch says. “At Earlham, my small classes routinely had lively debates and covered ideas from many different ideological standpoints. Compared to students who had come from larger universities, I had a far better grasp of the intuition of economic theory and was familiar with a much broader range of ideas.

“At Earlham, I was also able to participate in a number of research projects where I developed research skills I used in my graduate programs,” she says. “I had the opportunity to write a senior thesis that involved original data collection and I also worked on a collaborative research project with a professor. These experiences helped me hit the ground running with my graduate coursework." 

Marina Gorsuch

Marina Gorsuch 2008, Research Associate, Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota

Hometown: Plymouth, Minnesota

Major at Earlham: Economics

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