Here is the first round of winners of the new Emergent Ventures initiative at Mercatus, led by me. The list is ordered roughly in the order grants were made, and reflects no other prioritization. All project descriptions are mine alone and should not be considered literal attributions of intent to the project applicants. Here goes:
Anonymous grant for writing in Eastern Europe.
Pledged grant to San Francisco’s Topos House, conditional on finding a “social science prodigy” to live in the house for a while and interact with the other Topos fellows. Topos is a San Francisco house where several tech prodigies live and periodically seminars and larger group interactions are held there or connected to the house.
Travel grant made to 18-year-old economics prodigy, to travel to San Francisco to meet with members of the “rationality community.” The hope is to boost her career trajectory.
Grant to Harshita Arora to help her pursue work in brain science, including brain-computer interfaces to help disabled people manipulate and move objects. Harshita is a 17-year-old Indian prodigy, who first received attention for her programming work in the app space. Harshita made her bio and proposal public: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1j5Zf2RIiKVUUZzJb6qGQdx2WmG7q4NS9/view
Leonard Bogdonoff has a project to scrape Instagram and create a searchable concordance of street art around the world. His website is here and his blog is medium.com/@rememberlenny. One use of this project is to amplify the voice of “protest art” against the constraints of censorship from autocratic governments, but it is also a new way to glean usable information from Instagram.
Travel and conference grant to Juan Pablo Villarino, from Argentina, sometimes called “the world’s greatest hitchhiker.”
Ben Southwood, public intellectual from England, support for his writing and research on why progress in science has slowed down.
Eric Lofgren has worked at the Pentagon for seven years and now will spend a year at Mercatus/George Mason to develop the skills, including blogging and podcasting, to become the nation’s leading public intellectual on defense procurement.
A two-year pledge to Gaurav Venkataraman, at University College of London, to support his doctoral work on the idea of RNA-based memory. This research also has exciting implications for the design of artificial intelligence.
Joy Buchanan, economist, a grant to conduct research on why people become entrepreneurs and initiate start-ups, using the methods of experimental economics.
Michael Sonnenschein, Masters student at MIT in development economics (and a television screenwriter) a grant for research to reform and improve the Haitian lottery system, and turn it into a means to combat poverty.
Stefan Roots is writing and editing an on-line and also paper newspaper to cover local news in Chester, Pennsylvania, aimed at the African-American community.
Jeffrey Clemens, professor at UC San Diego, a grant to help him develop his on-line writing in economics.
Kelly Smith has a project to further extend and organize a parent-run charter school system in Arizona, Prenda, using Uber-like coordinating apps and “minimalist” educational methods.
David Perell, to encourage and support his work in podcasting and social media.
We are in the midst of processing several other awards as well, so do not worry if you are not yet mentioned.
I am delighted to welcome this very prestigious and accomplished “entering class” of Emergent Ventures fellows. If you are considering applying, please note that we are interested in other topics and methods as well.