Not one, not two, but three Mason affiliates have landed a spot on Forbes’ 2016 “30 Under 30: Law and Policy” list published last month.
The notification came as a surprise to all members, who included Andrea Castillo and Christopher Koopman of Mason’s Mercatus Center and Mason alumna Liya Palagashvili, who also worked at the Mercatus Center during her time at Mason.
Forbes accepted nominations and then sent hundreds of candidates questionnaires about their careers and ideas. Castillo noted that questions ranged everywhere from “When did you know what you wanted to do for a living?” to “Are you a morning bird or a night owl?”
“Apparently I made the cut!” she said.
Castillo, 26, is the program manager of the Mercatus Center’s Technology Policy Program. The program studies the intersection of economics, technology and innovation.
“We are particularly interested in studying the benefits of ‘permissionless innovation,’ which is an approach to policy that allows entrepreneurs to experiment by default,” Castillo explained. “This lets policymakers better observe outcomes to understand exactly how regulations can best promote safety and security instead of squashing innovation before it has a chance to take off.”
Castillo also helps select research projects and scholars to research technology policy debates. Additionally, she is a cyberspace expert and contributes to the economics and technology beat at Reason Magazine.
Castillo added that Mason students interested in policy and economics have an opportunity to get involved at the Mercatus Center.
“Our MA fellowship is a great deal,” she said. “A paid two-year degree program that equips you with cutting-edge tools in policy analysis, mentoring by our excellent Mercatus scholars, and opportunities to publish your own research before you even graduate.”
Koopman, 29, also touched on his unexpected spot on Forbes’ list.
“The work that I’m doing is fun and rewarding, but I never expected that it would get this type of attention,” Koopman said.
Koopman is a research fellow at the Mercatus Center and teaches two classes at Mason’s School of Law: Perspectives on Regulation and another seminar focused on state attorneys general.
Furthermore, Koopman’s bio on the Forbes’ list reads that his “research has been used by state, federal, and European governments to shape public policies in areas of occupational licensing, ride-sharing and healthcare.
“Primarily, at a state level, it has been policies focused on certificate-of-need regulations as well as how regulators should approach Uber and Lyft,” Koopman said of his research.
Palagashvili, 27, didn’t know of her accomplishment until the list went live and that “the announcement took her by surprise.”
Palagashvili, now an assistant professor at SUNY Purchase, earned her BS, MA and PhD degrees in economics from Mason. She’s also an “economist and theorist who writes about the effects of regulation on entrepreneurial capitalism and markets, in academic journals as well as publications like the Wall Street Journal,” according to her Forbes bio.
She has been published in U.S. News & World Report, Newsday, Yahoo Finance, Providence Journal, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Sun Sentinel, Real Clear Policy and Inside Sources. Her academic papers have appeared in numerous journals including History of Political Economy; Journal of Institutional Economics; Supreme Court Economic Review; Review of Austrian Economics; Journal of Law, Economics, and Policy; and Advances in Austrian Economics.
“They have inspired me to pursue my dreams, they taught me to think critically and to write, they are my co-authors, my career and life mentors, my biggest supporters and my friends,” Palagashvili said.
Palagashvili also offered a piece of advice to students.
“Work hard, find ways to stay inspired, have a good attitude, and cultivate your friendships and connections,” Palagashvili said. “Often you may not know what your ‘true passion’ or your ‘calling’ is, but if you continue to nurture your current path, your soul and mind, and your support base, you’ll start to see many opportunities and possibilities arise, and taking one path to another may lead you to your dream job.”