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Interview with Francisco Cabrera-Hernandez, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at CInSt

"Only a handful of universities in the world could match the amount of resources invested by HSE in economics research". Francisco Cabrera joined the Center for Institutional Studies last year as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Education and shares his inerasible impressions of HSE and Moscow

Interview with Francisco Cabrera-Hernandez, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at CInSt

Please, tell us about yourself   
I am from Mexico City. I got a BSc. in Economics from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Chile and a MSc. and PhD. in Economics from the University of Sussex in the UK. I have worked as Research Officer at the Institute of Development Studies in the UK, as Assistant Professor (tenure-track) in the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics in Mexico, and as Director of Research at the Centre for Regional Cooperation on Adult Education in Latinamerica and the Caribbean. I have also served as assistant of the former Minister of Economics in Chile, Alejandro Foxley, as consultant for different international institutions such as the World Bank and Brookings Institution, and as Senior Economist for the British Embassy in Mexico.

I use the most recent methods in econometrics to answer questions that could improve education and labour markets in developing countries. My research is highly applied, aiming to answer policy questions such as: Is grade repetition good for children to learn? Does providing free childcare increase female participation in the labour market? By answering this type of questions I seek to provide evidence that could inform governments’ decisions on public programmes. 

Why did you apply for HSE Postdoctoral Research Fellow?   
Russia has a strong academic tradition and HSE, as one of the best schools of Economics in the country, it is highly competitive, well-funded and internationally recognized. HSE is also ambitious, aiming to become one of the best economics schools in Europe. I wanted to be part of this journey to international excellence and recognition.
Also, it is important to highlight that Research Fellows at CInSt are understood as full-time researchers able to develop their own research agenda. In other departments of the world, these positions entail administrative work and assisting on the project of a senior researcher, and if you have time, then you can develop your agenda. At HSE you are free and welcome to join the institutional projects or collaborate with senior colleagues, but you are also free to focus on your own research interests.

Why did you choose Center for Institutional Studies specifically?    
In my experience as researcher I have noticed that multidisciplinary departments are stronger. I enjoy working with economists but I also appreciate collaborating with, for example, sociologists or psychologists. CInSt is a multidisciplinary center and it has very strong ties with the departments of applied economics and computer science at HSE. I am getting the best of all possible worlds.      

What do you like the most at HSE University?  
Only a handful of universities in the world could match the amount of resources invested by HSE in economics research. The infrastructure and the amount of human resources devoted to support researchers is impressive here and only comparable to top universities in Europe. And I want to make it clear, it is not only about the money, I feel fully supported by the staff, colleagues and my supervisor. I do not have to worry about anything but doing my job.

What is your impression of Moscow?  
Russia is the fifth country where I have lived and worked. I will be brief, forget about Paris, Madrid or London. Moscow is the best city in Europe to live. The services, culture and quality of life in Moscow is even better than in some of the biggest capitals of the world. And here you can actually live as a decent human being. When I was living in the UK, for example, I had a scholarship and I was working as a research officer, teacher, and private tutor at the same time and no money was enough. The food was extremely expensive, the bus and train prices were prohibitive, culture was for the elites, and it was very difficult to rent a flat by yourself. As a migrant there I never felt capable. But in Moscow I already feel at home.

Is it difficult to work in Russia without speaking Russian?
Not at all. In HSE everyone speaks English. But if you want to get the best from Russia, you should definitely learn the language. Thankfully, HSE provides free intensive training in Russian language with very well-prepared teachers. And also, almost everyone on the street is eager to use google translate.

Is there anything you would like to share with applicants?  
Everyone has an opinion about Russia, but almost no one has an informed opinion. Forget all that you think you know about Russia. This is an amazing country, HSE is a superb place to do research, and the colleagues are open to collaborate and share. When I arrived here I immediately felt that I belonged.

We are happy to announce that the Center for Institutional Studies is hiring five postdoctoral research fellows.

Postdoctoral positions are open in the fields of: 
Applied Econometrics 
Banking 
Economic History
Educational Studies 
Scientometrics

Deadline is February 9, 2020.

Postdoctoral Fellowship: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
https://iri.hse.ru/faq_pd