Becky Ioppolo’s ’13 Earlham experience pointed her toward different fields and ways of thinking. And it gave her courage, all of which has proven helpful while pursuing a master’s in public policy and now working as a research assistant at RAND Europe.
“Being comfortable with multidisciplinarity and interdisciplinary is essential to being able to keep up in public policy research,” Ioppolo says. “No policy is strictly financial, sociological or political, and an effective policy professional needs to be comfortable translating quantitative and qualitative pieces of evidence to many different kinds of audiences. Earlham’s liberal arts curriculum offers natural exposure to lots of different fields and ways of thinking.”
RAND is a not-for-profit research institute that aims to provide objective, evidence-based research reports to inform policy and decision-making.
“RAND research covers just about any policy topic you can think of, but I work in a research team that focuses on innovation, health and science,” she says. “We bid for commissioned research projects from UK and EU government bodies, charities and universities, which means we compete against other companies similar to ours to answer really interesting questions these clients have posed. RAND doesn’t just have a reputation for being ceaselessly objective, we work really hard every day to present the facts as they are without commentary or agenda. I deeply value contributing to that kind of work.”
Ioppolo says she enjoys researching relevant topics “with incredibly smart, fascinating colleagues from all over the world.”
“For example, one of my projects I have been working on has been to explore international mobility patterns of people with Ph.D.s in the UK and Europe to understand what could change after Brexit is finalized,” she says. “I have also been working on a number of projects for government funders of university research who want to know what kind of real-world impacts their grant money is having outside academia. These projects mostly use qualitative research methods including interviews, workshops and case studies, but quantitative methods — like econometric or bibliometric analyses — also play an important role in demonstrating trends across populations.”
While at Earlham, Ioppolo says she loved the intimate seminar classes, playing Ultimate Frisbee and travelling abroad to New Zealand and to London for May Term.
Joining and leading August Wilderness, however, was “the best choice I ever made,” she says. “I built close bonds with my fellow students and trip leaders. We laughed a lot and built such a strong resilience to our new challenging reality. In 2009, it rained 17 out of the 19 trail days of the water course. Remembering the challenges of that course and how I overcame them has provided me with the confidence to take other risks that I might not have otherwise pursued, such as moving abroad. Moreover, the environment was stunning, the silence was comforting and the physical and psychological feat of it all is still something that stuns people I share the story with, and it is an accomplishment of which I still remain incredibly proud.”