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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Academic with Trinidadian roots wins Rhodes scholarship

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Justin Haddad – Photo courtesy of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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Scholar Justin Haddad, of Trinidadian descent, has been awarded the 2022 Rhodes Scholarship. He is one of 32 recipients selected to honor 876 applications.

The 22-year-old is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH), where he majored in economics and applied physics and studied Latin. While there, the university said he created SplitTime, a scheduling program that integrates machine learning and economic theory to help companies manage employee shifts. He also co-founded UNCUT, a story-telling platform that highlights student-athletes’ lives off the field, to tackle their mental health.

Nationwide, UNC-CH said, Haddad helped Silicon Valley companies design Carbon and Zoomo algorithms to analyze 3D-printed parts and develop infrastructures for theft recovery.

He also served as a research fellow at Louisville Forward, where he developed new financial policies for immigrants in Kentucky. After graduation, he worked for a real-time simulation software company, Unity, where he designed software for low-tech industries.

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The Rhodes Fund, which issues the grant, said it is also the head of the Propertius Project, which makes “Elegations,” a historically inaccessible text, publicly available and free to use.

She said Haddad will receive a master’s degree in economics from Oxford University, where his research will focus on helping put refugees into environments in which they thrive using economic resource allocation algorithms.

Under the guidance of Oxford Associate Professor Alex Teitelboim, Deputy Director of Sustainability Economics at Oxford Martin School, and his interdisciplinary group of fellow Rhodes researchers, Haddad believes the experience at Oxford will prepare him to continue his studies, a statement from his university said. A passion to improve life, but this time on a global scale.

There are currently as many as 20 million refugees in need of homes. The economy provides a framework for placing these refugees in places where they can find new lives and new jobs. The first person to work on that algorithm is at Oxford. love everything [Teytelboym] He is doing, and I want to learn under him for as long as possible. This will be the next step I need to serve people more broadly and I am excited to take this next step because I am confident that I can be successful in this field.”

Haddad’s parents, Christopher Haddad and Christine Abdullah Hadid, were raised in Trinidad. Joanna Joseph, Haddad’s aunt, said Christopher was born and raised in Trinidad until the age of 11 when his family immigrated to the United States.

My sister was born here, went to the monastery of the Holy Name, and taught in Trinidad. Christopher returned to attend his brother’s wedding, where they met, and left Trinidad when she married when she was 24 years old. That was 1990, the same year the coup happened.”

Although Haddad was quoted as saying that his family fled from Trinidad to Ohio due to the upheaval caused by the coup, Joseph said it was just a coincidence.

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“The year of the coup is when I got married, he used it because he got into the refugee recruitment field, and it showed that they are refugees too. It’s a very good field he enters and it is a wanted field.”

Haddad is currently an academic visitor at the University of Zurich where he is researching how economic theory can improve the situation of refugees in new societies.

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