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Dr Melati Nungsari

Dr Melati is an Associate Professor of Economics at the Asia School of Business (ASB) and a Research Affiliate at MIT Sloan School of Management. She is an applied microeconomist specializing in research on issues related to informality, pedagogy, entrepreneurship, and the labor market. She heads the ASEAN Research Center at ASB, dedicated to studying impactful topics and communities in Southeast Asia. Additionally, she leads RYSE (Rapid Youth Success Entrepreneurship/Employment Program), a social outreach and research program focused on comprehending and creating interventions for youth employment and entrepreneurship.

Dr Melati has published her work in prestigious academic journals such as the Journal of Refugee Studies and the Journal of Career Assessment, and she has presented her research at academic and practitioner conferences worldwide. Her research focuses on topics with significant public policy implications, particularly concerning vulnerable groups and education. She specifically examines informality-related topics, such as labor market integration of Rohingya refugees, interventions to reduce discrimination against refugees, the potential benefits of the gig economy for refugee workers, and small business owners in the roadside economy.

Throughout her career, she has collaborated on research projects with organizations like the UN Refugee Agency, UNDP, the World Health Organization, SUHAKAM (The Malaysian Human Rights Commission), and the International Detention Coalition. Dr. Melati also serves on the Board of Trustees for Yayasan Chow Kit, a foundation established to assist children from marginalized communities.

Melati earned her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where her research focused on two-sided dating platforms and pricing. Before joining ASB, she held professorial positions in economics at Butler University and Davidson College in the United States. She takes pride in her Penangite heritage.

To me, as an academic, impact means trying to answer research questions that have meaningful applied interest and applications to vulnerable communities. It means putting the pursuit of important answers before the pursuit within a specific field through embracing multidisciplinarity—viewing a topic from multiple academic lenses—and prioritising research dissemination back to the communities that you serve. Impact also means focusing on questions with conclusions that matter and can contribute to data-backed policy making rather than purely intellectual exercises.

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