Photo of Me

I am a data scientist with a background in quantitative social science and policy research, specialized in Bayesian statistics and various approaches to causal inference. I recently completed my PhD at UCLA, where I led a 6-year collaborative research program using Bayesian multilevel regression modeling, machine learning and various approaches to causal inference to test the efficacy of US public policy solutions to gender-based income inequality. For example, in one study I quantified the gender gap in US parents’ loss of income after having a first child, and tested how state-level family leave policies affect this ‘child penalty’.

A bit more about my professional background: I am an anthropologist and psychologist by training. After graduating Cum Laude from my master's degree in cultural anthropology and development sociology at Leiden University (The Netherlands) I spent some years working for non-governmental organizations in the Netherlands and the Philippines. In 2017 I moved to the United States to pursue a PhD in biological anthropology at UCLA, and I graduated this summer. I'm very excited to now start a new chapter working as a senior data scientist at Covered California!

You can download my full resume here.



Social inequality and policy

Recently I have focused on applying my anthropological background to studying the actual and potential impact of social policies on people’s lives. In one study, I examine how increased access to education in low- and middle-income countries has affected women's bargaining position in marriage and has downstream consequences for the prevalence of intimate-partner violence. As part of another project I examine the US 'child penalty': the earnings parents - especially mothers - lose after having a first child. And as a research fellow at the WORLD Policy Analysis Center I evaluated the impact of disability policies on the economic situation of people with disabilities in low- and middle-income countries.

Behavioral ecology

As an anthropologist and graduate researcher UCLA I was trained in critically evaluating information and connecting data to on-the-ground stories about human experiences. My formal graduate education is in behavioral ecology. This field seeks use evolutionary theory to explain and predict how individual-level and population-wide socio-ecological factors shape people’s behavior. My dissertation research is focused on issues regarding gender inequality-related to topics such as maternal health among women in rural Namibia, and the gender difference in temporal income dynamics when parents have a first child.




Using the rigorous training in multi-variate regression models I received at UCLA, I sought out my own education in statistics for the social sciences. There are so many amazing resources that exist for this online! I learned the basics of Bayesian inference through Richard McElreath's online course Statistical Rethinking and further built on this knowledge using free online sources such as Bayes Rules! by Alicia Johnson, Miles Ott and Mine Dogucu, Andrew Heiss' blog, and Causal Inference: the Mixed tape from Scott Cunningham.

Data visualization

Good visualization of data and statistical results is crucial to clear science communication, and I like to explore new ways to show information. Below are a few examples of visualizations I've made for previous projects. I also like to create interactive dashboards where users can point-and-click to choose the information and plot types they want to see.

Visualizing change over time.
Visualizing spatial data.
Visualizing posterior distributions of effect sizes.
Visualizing variable distributions.


I identify as an R lady! There are just so many things you can do with R: data cleaning, statistics, data visualization... even website building! Besides my love for R I enjoy working in Python, am very comfortable using SQL for data management, Ubuntu and Unix for working on secure high performance computing servers, and I've created a few Android apps in Dart. Take a look at my GitHub to see some examples of projects in R and Python. Lastly, I've also built a few websites with html - such as this one, so you can be the judge of my skills ;) I enjoy learning new languages and am excited to increase this list!



I will list my publications here later. For now, check them out on Google Scholar!



Cycling is an important part of my life. I was a collegiate rower in the Netherlands, and when I moved to LA this became my main hobby. At this moment I'm captain of Velo Club La Grange's women's road race team. 2024 was also my second year participating in AIDS/LifeCycle, a ride from San Fransisco to Los Angeles to raise funds for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment in these cities. I've raised a total of almost $10,000 dollars towards this cause, and am signed up again for next year! You can learn more about the ride and sponsor me here.

Trying to look good on a bicycle.
Just some of my best cycling buddies.
Me and my partner on the kick-off of AIDS/LifeCycle.
Climbing some mountain in Malibu.
Los Angeles, CA
Email: reneehagen (at) gmail.com