Photo of Me

I am quantitative social scientist and policy researcher specialized in public health, social inequality and Bayesian statistics. As a graduate researcher at UCLA, my research focused on maternal and infant health and gender inequality. For example, I evaluated the impact of a Red Cross program on maternal health and infant care practices. In another study, I quantify the gender gap in US parents’ loss of income after having a first child, and test how state-level parental leave policies affect this ‘child penalty’.

A little bit 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 graduate degree in biological anthropology at UCLA. Here my research is focused on issues regarding gender inequality related to topics such as maternal health and women’s decreased earnings after having their first child. Furthermore, I gained six years of experience in using Bayesian statistics to understand complex relationships between individual-level and group-level variables, to test the effects of policy changes, model change over time, make predictions about new data, and estimate uncertainty.

You can download my 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 have experience with 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 simple Android apps in Dart. I've 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. 2023 will also be 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. Last year I raised about $4500, and this year I'm going for $6000! 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