Muhammad Al Amin, Data Services Specialist: Q&A
Muhammad Al Amin, a native of Bangladesh, works as a Data Services Specialist at Princeton University Library. Muhammad received his Ph.D. in Political Science with a specialization in international political economy from the University of Mississippi. Additionally, he holds Master's and Bachelor's degrees in Economics. Muhammad has an extensive background in social science research methods, statistical software, and computer languages. His primary coding expertise is in Stata, R (RStudio), and SAS. Muhammad previously worked as a Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) – a leading think tank in Bangladesh. Muhammad has published widely on a number of economic, policy, and political topics. When not working, Muhammad likes to travel, watch movies, and explore new foods with his wife and daughter.
What is your role as Data Services Specialist and what field(s) do you specialize in?
As a Data Services Specialist, I provide instruction, guidance, and consultation with econometrics, quantitative research methods, and statistical software to students and scholars engaged in quantitative data analysis in a variety of academic disciplines in the social sciences, particularly in economics, finance, politics, public policy, and sociology. More specifically, I provide consultation on the choice, application, and interpretation of quantitative research methods, and with the use of statistical software such as R and Stata. I also update and develop data analysis tutorials/libguides and conduct data analysis workshops on a regular basis.
What interests you about working with data and statistics?
Before starting my doctoral studies in the U.S., I was working as a researcher at the CPD. During my five years of work at CPD, I got plenty of opportunities to engage in various policy-oriented research projects and work with different kinds of data (e.g., primary, secondary, small, and large). While working on those projects, I discovered my passion for working with quantitative research methods and exploring different statistical packages for data analysis. Consequently, I spent most of my time at CPD conducting the data analysis part of the research projects. I find it fascinating that by applying appropriate quantitative methods and utilizing various statistical software we can extract meaning from data to answer important real-world problems, enabling policymakers for informed decision-making that can eventually improve human well-being.
Could you tell us about some of your research work?
My research interest is in international political economy, with a focus on foreign aid and the politics of international development. In my Ph.D. dissertation, I empirically examined the economic and political effects of Chinese foreign aid. The first two essays of my dissertation suggest that similar to Western foreign aid, Chinese aid may improve human development outcomes if recipient countries have better domestic political institutions. On the other hand, findings from the third essay suggest that official finance from China potentially props up non-democratic leaders in recipient countries, undermining the fundamentals of the liberal world order.
In some of my other research works, I investigate the relationship between public goods provision and the onset of civil conflict, the role of domestic veto players in debt restructuring negotiation outcomes, and the relationship between international finance and arms race.
How do you hope to support members of the Princeton University community?
An essential part of my job is to help Princeton juniors with their junior independent work, seniors with their thesis paper, and graduate students with their dissertation work. Students have fascinating research questions and access to extensive data. Getting the best out of available data and answering research questions in the most scientific way need well-rounded use of quantitative methods and statistical software. I am deeply committed to providing support to the students with utmost sincerity, creativity, and accuracy in the coming days. In addition, I want to ensure that every student I consult with feels welcome, comfortable, and included.
I was born and raised in Bangladesh. My diverse background as a graduate student in the United States made me realize the imperative to recognize differences in us and nurture inclusivity to reap the benefits of higher education. I have a strong drive to mentor and encourage students who are underrepresented in higher education, including but not limited to students of color, students with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, international students, and first-generation college students.
Questions? Contact Muhammad via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Published on January 18, 2023