Explore Econ 2021 Best Research Poster – Aadya Sharma and Kimberly Nyamushonongora

Explore Econ 2021 was held virtually this year and was as engaging as ever. We caught up with Aadya and Kimberly on their winning poster (“Performance Pay in Health and Education – Can incentives transform efficiency in the public sector?”)


We are third year Economics students, and are graduating in 2021. We met in the first welcome lecture in Freshers Week 2018!

Why did you decide to apply for Explore Econ 2021?

We studied the module Economic Policy Analysis and within this module we got to do some research on Performance Pay in the Public Sector for a presentation. We really enjoyed this topic and wanted to do further research on it and share what we learnt with other people, as we thought it was a really interesting but also important topic. This drove us to apply for Explore Econ 2021.

Tell us about your submission.

We studied Performance Pay in Healthcare and Education, looking at its merits and weaknesses, and how policymakers can apply it. We found many weaknesses with performance pay in healthcare and education, however, more research needs to be done on the healthcare front. Some papers suggested that performance pay was not needed in the public sector as intrinsic motivation drove high performance, not financial incentives.

What was your experience like working on your research and then presenting?

We enjoyed having the opportunity to dive deep into our research. We did a 40 minute presentation on Performance Pay in Healthcare and Education in class, so it was a unique challenge to condense it into a poster and 3 minute presentation for Explore Econ! It was also an interesting challenge to present virtually. We have developed many new skills from this.

How has participating in Explore Econ impacted your studies this year?

Participating in Explore Econ bolstered our studies as we looked into key areas of Performance Pay in Education and Healthcare in more depth. This was one of the topics from our Economic Policy Analysis module, so, it helped us to hone our knowledge of the topic. This helped us in the exam!

What have you learned from your experience of Explore Econ and what aspects will stick with you moving forward?

We have definitely sharpened our research skills and presentation skills. We learnt how to condense information and make online presentations more interesting. As we move forward into our careers these are all very important skills to have. We also learnt a lot from attending the Explore Econ conference. We enjoyed watching our fellow classmates presentations, like Antara Roy’s presentation. We also found the Ignite Session really engaging and interesting!

What does winning this award mean to you?

It feels great to win this award in our final year at UCL. It shows how much we have learnt, developed and progressed over our three years studying Economics at UCL. It is also great to know that our research came out well after all the time and effort we spent on it.

Any tips for students thinking about applying next year?

Take advantage of professors’ office hours! We found that this really helped us when making our poster, the tips given by the professors were invaluable. Pick a topic you are genuinely interested in. We also found that picking a topic that you have studied within a module helped to guide our research. It also benefitted our studies as we built more knowledge on a within module topic.


We would like to thank our professor Pedro Carneiro for teaching the topic in our Economic Policy Analysis module. We would also like to thank Frank Witte for all his help in office hours. Last but certainly not least, we would like to thank Alessandro Toppeta, our seminar leader in the Economic Policy Analysis. He always gave great advice. 🙂

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