Alexander Arnon

Senior Data Analyst

Alexander Arnon came to The Penn Wharton Budget Model with a background in public policy and economic research. Prior to coming to Penn, he worked as an analyst at the Congressional Budget Office, where he focused on macroeconomic policy and labor markets. He has authored or coauthored papers on monetary policy, factor income shares, and self-employment. Alexander graduated from McGill University with an honors B.A. in economics.

Efraim Berkovich

Senior Economist

Efraim Berkovich comes to The Penn Wharton Budget Model after teaching as an assistant professor of economics and finance at a liberal arts college in New York. Before going into economics study, Efraim worked in information technology, having held the position of technical architect at AXA Financial and CTO at an internet start-up. Additionally, Efraim worked at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.’s global equities group and on projects for NASD (now FINRA) and the U.S. Treasury.

Efraim’s published work includes a study of index options in the Journal of Derivatives and an analysis of welfare implications of payment cards in the Review of Network Economics for which he was interviewed on NPR. He also has a number of publications and patents in computer engineering. Efraim earned his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, his M.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park, and his B.S. magna cum laude in Mathematics from Georgetown University.

Kimberly Burham

Managing Director of Legislation and Special Projects

Kimberly Burham focuses on the development, presentation, and communications strategy of The Penn Wharton Budget Model as well as tracking policy options and writing whitepapers. Her prior research includes work on pensions, retirement savings, retirement preparation, investor demographics and behavior, Social Security claiming behavior, and expenditures by the aged. Prior to coming to Penn, Burham worked as an economist in the retirement and investor research division at the Investment Company Institute and as an economist in the Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics at the Social Security Administration. Burham is a graduate of Hastings College and holds a PhD. in economics from the University of Notre Dame.

Jagadeesh Gokhale

Director of Special Projects

Before joining The Penn Wharton Budget Model, Jagadeesh held senior positions at the Cato Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

Jagadeesh has (co)authored many studies on fiscal policy covering issues in health care, labor productivity, national saving, life‐insurance, financial planning, and the effect of government policies on intra‐ and inter‐generational resource distributions. His work has appeared in top‐tier academic journals such as the American Economic Review, Journal of Public Economics, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Review of Economics and Statistics and in the U.S. Budget’s Analytical Perspectives. Jagadeesh has also testified on policy issues before committees in the U.S. Congress and state legislatures, and has written many articles in popular print and online media such as the Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, American Spectator, and Forbes.

Leah Hirsch

Admin Coordinator

Leah Hirsch came to The Penn Wharton Budget Model after dancing professionally with the Pennsylvania Ballet for four years. She has performed at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, the Vail International Dance Festival, and the Kennedy Center. Leah also performed in Manna’s annual benefit performance at the Forrest theatre and volunteered at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Leah is currently pursuing an Economics degree at the University of Pennsylvania.

Michael Kianka

Application Developer Senior

Michael Kianka brings a broad range of software development experience to The Penn Wharton Budget Model. Michael has ten years of experience doing economic cost/benefit studies for various EPA Clean Air Act regulations. He also worked at OMR systems in Princeton NJ, developing commodities trading software. Michael was a senior software architect at Princeton Gamma Tech. PGT produced gamma ray detectors used in both scanning electron microscopes and astronomy. Michael developed imaging software and X-Ray analysis algorithms for materials analysis. Michael has also toured the world a few times either performing with, or in support of various musical artists including Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel, Roger Hodgson (SuperTramp) and One Direction. Michael has a BS in physics from The College of NJ.

Peter Lu

Junior Programmer

Peter Lu joins The Penn Wharton Budget Model with a background in computational engineering. Prior to coming to Penn, Pete did business development for MathWorks, the private software company behind MATLAB. Pete earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees in engineering from MIT. He is a retired Tim the Beaver mascot performer who still secretly practices the dance moves.

Chris Palenchar

Application Architect

Chris Palenchar brings to The Penn Wharton Budget Model over 20 years of experience in software development. Prior to coming to Penn, he was the cofounder and CTO of Navtrak. Under his guidance, Navtrak grew from a small 2-man development team into one of the largest companies providing a Location Intelligence Platform. Chris earned a BS degree in Physics with a concentration in Micro-Electronics from Salisbury University.

John Ricco

Research Associate

John Ricco comes to The Penn Wharton Budget Model with a background in applied public policy research. Prior to coming to Penn, he worked as an analyst at the International Monetary Fund, contributing to departmental research on policy-relevant fiscal issues. John has co-authored papers on the macro-fiscal effects of terrorism and military spending, and is especially interested in urban economics. He earned a BSBA in economics from Duquesne University, graduating magna cum laude.

Andrew Sacher

Director of Data Warehouse

Andrew Sacher brings to The Penn Wharton Budget Model a background in public policy, financial markets, and technology.

Prior to coming to Penn, he worked in global‐economic consulting at the Lindsay Group (TLG) and SGS, and developed the first Android e‐book app. He also worked at the White House’s National Economic Council and at Caxton Associates, a global‐macro hedge fund. Andrew graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in Economics, finishing in three years.

Nirvan Sengupta

Research Associate

Nirvan is a recent graduate from Johns Hopkins University where he studied applied mathematics/statistics and biophysics. He spent a year working as a data scientist for a research group at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health developing machine learned algorithms to predict infant mortality in rural Bangladesh. As a student, he has done research in bioinformatics utilizing high performance computing clusters to analyze the evolution of norovirus populations in response to anti-viral drugs. He also interned at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center developing software for satellite sensors. He joins The Penn Wharton Budget Model excited by the opportunity to apply his experience in data analytics and computing to assist in deploying mathematical models of public policies.

Sophie Shin


Sophie Shin holds a PhD. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. Her areas of expertise are Empirical Microeconomics, Search and Matching Theory, Labor Economics, Family Economics, and Demography. Sophie's scholarly research papers can be found on SSRN.