I am a Ph.D. student at MIT, where I currently focus on epistemology, decision theory, and normative ethics (especially as they relate to global priorities research). Given that many of the faculty members at ANU focus on consequentialism and decision theory, I believe that this would be a great space to continue my training in these subfields over next summer (July-August 2024), while creating new connections and hopefully producing new research ideas. Decision theory and consequentialism are key aspects of research into global priorities (https://80000hours.org/career-reviews/global-priorities-researcher/), which is an important and neglected career path.
I hope to spend two months at ANU (likely July and August 2024). The funding for this project would allow me to finance my flights and accommodations.
What are this project's goals and how will you achieve them?
I've already reached out to faculty members at ANU who I'd be interested in working with, and they have agreed to work with me over the two months that I'll be there. Given that it will be winter in Australia, this will be a great time to visit, as most students will be in the area.
How will this funding be used?
Roundtrip flight from Boston to Canberra: $2000
Accommodations, food, misc. expenses: $3000-$4000
Who is on your team and what's your track record on similar projects?
I believe that I have the potential to produce quality research in this field.
I graduated summa cum laude with an A.B. in Philosophy from Princeton University in 2021. At Princeton, I received a 96/100 (“high A”) on my senior thesis and was awarded the Class of 1869 Prize for writing the best thesis in moral or social philosophy in the Class of 2021. (Such grades are rare: they “go to work comparable to that of good advanced graduate students, work of a kind more common in doctoral dissertations than undergraduate papers of any kind.”) In 2023, I received competing graduate school offers from NYU, Princeton University, Rutgers University (including the Presidential Fellowship), the University of Oxford, UC Berkeley (including the Chancellor’s Fellowship), and Yale University, but decided to go to MIT on a Presidential Fellowship.
What are the most likely causes and outcomes if this project fails? (premortem)
I believe that this project is extremely unlikely to fail completely: at worst, I'll have only created new connections that will greatly increase my likelihood of succeeding in academia. However, ideally I will also generate new publishable research ideas through my work with faculty members at ANU. Research is hard, and producing truly novel and impactful ideas is rare, so the possibility that I'll fail on this front is non-negligible.
What other funding are you or your project getting?