Cornell University: Policy student receives Mitchell Scholarship

Aadi Kulkarni ’22, a senior in the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy and the College of Human Ecology who co-founded a startup to help underserved populations access academic papers, led the Cornell International Affairs Review and founded the Office of Student Government Relations, has been awarded a George J. Mitchell Scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in social data analytics at University College Dublin in 2022.

Kulkarni, a policy analysis and management major, is one of 12 recipients selected out of 351 applicants for the scholarship, which honors former U.S. Senator George Mitchell’s contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process. The program is designed to connect future American leaders to the island of Ireland while fostering intellectual achievement, leadership and public service. He is the second Cornellian to become a Mitchell Scholar.

Kulkarni will use the scholarship for an interdisciplinary master’s program that provides students with computational, statistical and social science skills to analyze large or complex data sets related to human behavior.

“Policy analysis and management has shown me the data we get from humans is messy and incomplete,” he said. “It’s a challenge to use this data to make policy. This program brings to together economists, sociologists, data scientists, policymakers and lawyers to focus on using human-centered data.”

Kulkarni is working with assistant professor Karen Levy and Solon Barocas in the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science on a National Science Foundation project involving data science ethics. He is also writing an honors thesis with Max Kapustin, assistant professor in the Cornell Brooks School, on using machine learning to analyze federal regulatory comments.

He also co-founded the startup, which uses machine learning to summarize academic papers and disseminate them to underserved populations.

He was a campaign fellow for Biden for President, serving as an aide to the National Asian American and Pacific Islander director. He also completed internships with U.S. Senator Cory Booker, the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce and at the Harvard Law School Innovation Lab.

Kulkarni plans to dedicate his career to helping the government better use technology to deliver basic services. “We often think how difficult it is to go to the DMV or sign your child up for school,” he said. “These interactions are how we most directly experience our government, and I think it’s important to improve those interactions.”

To build successful e-government, Kulkarni said, he hopes to build proficiency in both technical and non-technical skills.