Our Team

The Yardi Scholarship team works to create a dynamic student experience for each Yardi Scholars cohort.

Dr. Kirk Bansak

Yardi Scholarship Faculty Director

Kirk Bansak is the inaugural Faculty Director of the Yardi Scholarship and oversees the Yardi academic program, including the design of the Berkeley Changemaker cohort course and capstone course. He is an Assistant Professor in the Travers Department of Political Science, and also a faculty affiliate of the Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative (BIMI) and the Immigration Policy Lab (IPL) at Stanford University and ETH Zurich. Professor Bansak’s research interests are in causal inference, experimental design and analysis, refugee resettlement and asylum politics, algorithmic decision-making, and public opinion.

Professor Bansak is excited to join the Yardi Scholarship team and support its commitments to social change, democracy, and harnessing technology for the benefit of society. These are themes that resonate deeply with Professor Bansak’s own scholarly goals. Much of his research has focused on studying how algorithmic decision-making can be applied to improve the geographic placement of refugees and asylum seekers. In this work, he has developed novel methods focused on promoting refugees’ and asylum seekers’ potential to thrive in their new countries. In related research, he also works to better understand the sources of public support for (and hostility towards) forced migrants.

Mirroring the interdisciplinarity of the Yardi Scholarship, Professor Bansak also has an interdisciplinary research agenda and signature. This is reflected in the diversity of his work, to include publications in general science journals as well as outlets in political science, statistics, and operations research. His peer-reviewed work has been published or is forthcoming in Science, Nature, PNAS Nexus, Nature Human Behaviour, American Political Science Review, Journal of Politics, Political Analysis, Statistical Science, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A, Political Science Research and Methods, Legislative Studies Quarterly, and the ACM Conference on Economics and Computation (EC). His research has also been featured in various media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, BBC, Forbes, Bloomberg, and The Atlantic. Profesor Bansak earned his Ph.D. in Political Science and M.S. in Statistics from Stanford University, M.A. in Law and Diplomacy from Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and B.A. in Anthropology from Harvard University.

Headshot of Professor Kirk Bansak

Joanie Ly

Yardi Scholarship Program Manager

As Program Manager for the Yardi Scholarship, Joanie Ly coordinates Berkeley’s newest student cohort program, including cultivating the Yardi Scholar experience and supporting the scholarship’s academic program. For almost nine years, Joanie has worked to connect college level students, staff, and faculty at the university level through building programs, events, and resources. Joanie most recently served as Stanford University’s Associate Director of New Student Programs where she led the onboarding orientation program for more than 2,000 incoming students and families each year. Joanie then pivoted to more direct advocacy work by working with both Queer and Asian non-profits to build programs that can support these communities outside of the university setting. Joanie received her undergraduate degree in Political Science from UC San Diego and her Masters in Education from Rutgers University.

Headshot of Joanie Ly

Dr. Amy Gurowitz

Berkeley Connect Faculty Director in Political Science

Amy Gurowitz is the Faculty Director of Berkeley Connect in Political Science, overseeing the design of the first-year Yardi Scholars courses, and working with the Berkeley Connect graduate mentor. She is a lecturer in the Travers Department of Political Science teaching in the areas of international relations, international ethics, human rights, reconciliation, and immigration. In addition, she co-runs the Political Science Honors Program, and has taught a Berkeley Changemaker course.

Dr. Gurowitz is delighted to join the Yardi Scholarship team and support its commitments to social change, democracy, and the use of technology in support of those goals. She is especially excited to work with incoming students interested in this area, and to support them with the structure of a peer cohort and mentorship.

After receiving a Ph.D. in Government from Cornell University, Gurowitz returned to Berkeley, where she had earlier received her B.A. in Political Science. She has taught in the department for over 20 years. She has published in World Politics, International Politics, and the Journal of Asian Studies and she has several book chapters. In her non-teaching time, Gurowitz volunteers with East Bay Agency for Children and is a former CASA for Alameda County.