Meet our speakers

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Syon Bhanot

Assistant Professor of Economics, Swarthmore College 

Syon is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Swarthmore College, studying behavioral and public economics. Syon obtained his PhD in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School in 2015. In addition to his doctoral work, he completed an M.P.P. at the Harvard Kennedy School in 2009 and a B.A. in Public Policy and International Affairs at Princeton University in 2006. His research focuses on designing, implementing, and evaluating field experiments that use behavioral concepts to influence decision making.

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Yvonne McCarthy

Economist, Central Bank of Ireland

Yvonne is an economist at the Central Bank of Ireland. She recently set up a new unit, the Behavioural Consumer Finance Unit, at the Central Bank, to understand how behavioural insights can inform policy formulation. She holds a PhD from University College Dublin. Her research interests include consumer finance, household indebtedness, and the role of behavioural factors in household financial decisions.

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Michael King

Assistant Professor at the Department of Economics, Trinity College Dublin.

Michael is Assistant Professor at the Department of Economics, Trinity College Dublin. Michael’s research interests focus on banking and household finance in developing countries, development policy, in particular policy coherence for development and impact measurement, and national competitiveness. Between 2007 and 2012, Michael held the position of Senior Research Officer at the Institute for International Integration Studies (IIIS) at Trinity College Dublin.​​ Michael holds a Masters in economics and international development (MPAID) from Harvard University and a BA and PhD in economics from Trinity College Dublin.

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Gordon Kraft-Todd

Human Cooperation Lab, Yale University

Gordon is a PhD student in Psychology, working in the Human Cooperation Lab at Yale University. He received his BA from Harvard in 2007 where he designed his own major in Leadership. He has three primary lines of work: investigating the spread of non-normative (i.e. rare) prosocial behaviors, testing the limits and power of empathy in promoting prosocial behavior, and exploring how evolutionary pressures shaped the psychological mechanisms which facilitate the resolution of social dilemmas. He studies these phenomena using a combination of inter-disciplinary methods, including online and in-lab incentivized economic game experiments, hypothetical vignette studies, and real-world field experiments run with non-profit, for-profit, and government partner organizations.​

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Susanne Schwarz

PhD candidate in the Politics Department at Princeton University

Susanne is a PhD candidate in the Politics Department at Princeton University, with a substantive focus on American political development and public policy research. However, her research interests span a wide variety of topics, including gender-based violence, women in politics, as well as voter mobilization efforts. Before she started her doctoral studies, Susanne received a Masters in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where she was a McCloy Fellow, and a B.A. in Political Science from Freie Universität in Berlin.

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Becky Fortgang

Post-doctoral fellow in Harvard University’s Department of Psychology

Becky Fortgang Becky is a post-doctoral fellow in Harvard University’s Department of Psychology. Her research focuses primarily on self-control, impulsivity, and effort. In different lines of work, she studies how these phenomena relate and contribute to psychopathology, risk-taking, and self-harming behaviors. In her work, she uses approaches including behavioral tasks, genetics, medical record abstraction, and most recently real-time monitoring methods. She received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Yale University and her BA in Linguistics from Cornell, and she also completed an Intramural Research Training Award fellowship at the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.

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James Vancel 

VP of Advisory at the Busara Center for Behavioral Economics

James Vancel James is the VP of Advisory at the Busara Center for Behavioral Economics and has experience working with private industry, non-profits, and government to apply behavioral insights in emerging economies, and has conducted large-scale behavioral trials in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Peru, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Sierra Leone. Prior to joining Busara, James worked as a consultant for the World Bank and a Project Coordinator for Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) in Busia, Kenya.

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Tyler Soutendijk

Research assistant for Professor Syon Bhanot at Swarthmore College

Tyler is a senior at Swarthmore College pursuing a double major in economics and philosophy. He is a research assistant for Professor Syon Bhanot at Swarthmore College investigating topics ranging from conservation behavior in high-income populations to prosocial messaging on business license renewals. After Swarthmore, Tyler will be joining Ernst & Young’s Quantitative Economics and Statistics Team to continue a career in policy analysis. He has previously interned in corporate strategy roles for a public services outsourcing firm and a real estate technology startup.  

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Mehra den Braven

Teaching assistant for Professor Syon Bhanot's behavioral economics course at Swarthmore College

Mehra is a senior at Swarthmore College majoring in economics and minoring in Black Studies and Spanish. She is a teaching assistant for Professor Syon Bhanot's behavioral economics course at Swarthmore College. She is also a captain of the Swarthmore varsity volleyball team and a participant at the SCI Chester Think Tank, where she develops workshops with incarcerated people to pursue policy change. Mehra has previously interned with the Philadelphia Behavioral Science Initiative and Opportunity Insights in Cambridge, MA.