Skip to content Skip to navigation

Meet our PhD students

Meet our PhD students

February 5, 2019

Meet five of our current PhD students, who shared their rich backgrounds and research interests with us. For a full list of Management Science & Engineering PhD students, see our PhD Directory.


(from left: Yujia Jin, Khonika Gope, Wanyi Li, Laura Taylor-Kale, William Cai)


KhonikaKhonika Gope

BS in Electrical Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology
MBA from Goizueta Business School, Fulbright Scholar, Emory University

Khonika studies with the Stanford Technology Ventures Program in MS&E. She is a 2018 recipient of the Gerald J. Lieberman Fellowship. Prior to joining Stanford, she worked as a lecturer and assistant professor at the University of Dhaka's Institute of Business Administration, the leading business school in her home country, Bangladesh.

Broadly, Khonika's research interests focus on the strategies of innovative entrepreneurs and team dynamics in new ventures. Particularly, she is interested in how institutions affect entrepreneurship and innovation. Besides Lieberman fellowship, she received numerous other grants and awards, such as Fulbright Scholarship, Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED) Ph.D. I-Award, Stanford Center for South Asia (CSA) Fellowship and Heitz Fellowship.

Laura Taylor-Kale

BA in Economics and Anthropology from Smith College,
MPA from Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University,
MBA in Finance and Management from NYU Stern School of Business


Laura studies with the Center for Work, Technology and Organizations in MS&E. She is a 2018 recipient of the Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education Fellowship. Prior to attending Stanford, she spent over fifteen years in foreign policy and international development finance as a diplomat in the U.S. State Department, at the World Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the U.S. Department of Commerce. From 2017-2018, she was an International Affairs Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) where she was deputy director of CFR’s independent task force on the future of the U.S. workforce, as well as co-author of the task force’s published report “The Work Ahead: Machines, Skills and U.S. Leadership in the Twenty-First Century.”

Laura’s research is focused on augmentation and human collaboration with matching algorithms in the field of blended finance and artificial intelligence and interorganizational collaboration.

Wanyi LiWanyi Li

BS in Physics and a minor in Computer Science from Wellesley College, Massachusetts


Wanyi is a PhD candidate in operations management in MS&E. Her research theme is market design for environmental issues. She studies mechanism design, contract theory, and queueing theory. She is a 2018 recipient of the Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellowship. Apart from her academic work, she also serves as the director of academic diversity on the 2018-19 executive cabinet of the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU).

Wanyi's current research designing incentive-compatible contracts for natural capital, or, the so-called "Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES)". Given that natural capital differs from conventional production goods, her work considers how to balance the dynamics of conversation and consumption.

In addition to PES contract design, she also studies how real world physical constraints impact waiting times in the service industry, especially the intricate relationship between how servers post waiting time announcements and how consumers react to such information.

William Cai

BS in Computer Science from Yale University


William studies computational social science in MS&E. He is a 2018 recipient of the Stanford Graduate Fellowships in Science & Engineering.

William is broadly interested in understanding and improving social systems using the unprecedented availability of data in the present day.

His recent projects include:

  • studying news production in a way that applies machine learning to understand which events and topics different publications choose to cover every day,
  • improving comprehension of numbers in the news by providing contextualizers (for example, 2 cubic meters -> the volume of a refrigerator),
  • documenting people's aversion to randomized controlled trials even when they find all possible outcomes acceptable,
  • analyzing police co-offender networks to see if bad behavior is transmitted through social contagion.


Yujia JinYujia Jin

Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from Fudan University


Yujia studies operations research in MS&E. She received the highest department and university honor as an undergraduate. She is a 2018 recipient of the Stanford Graduate Fellowships in Science & Engineering.

Yujia is interested in the theory of algorithms, with applications in complex networks, online learning, and machine learning.