Personal Question Leads Scientist to Academic Excellence

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Portrait of Jennifer Lerner. (Image credit: Tanit Sakakini)

This ScienceLives article was provided to LiveScience in partnership with the National Science Foundation.

Jennifer Lerner’s work helps world leaders and other public officials, including members of NATO, understand the effects of social and emotional factors on judgment and decision making. She is the director of the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory and a professor of public policy and management at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Lerner is best known for her research on two topics: the effects of emotion on judgment and decision making, and the effects of accountability on judgment and decision making. Recently, along with a number of National Science Foundation-supported scientists, she appeared on the PBS program "Mind Over Money," a look at the 2008 stock market crash and the irrational financial decisions people make.

Her academic success began as a search for an answer to a personal questionthat led to a senior honors thesis at the University of Michigan; the subject of which was how children cope with chronic disease. "I actually think this is a good way to attract more girls and women into the field," she said in a recent interview, "to start with questions we care about." To discover the question that led Lerner to a thriving academic career, watch the following video where she answers the ScienceLives 10 Questions.

Name: Jennifer Lerner Age: 43 Institution: Harvard University Field of Study: Decision Science/Psychology

Editor's Note:This research was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the federal agency charged with funding basic research and education across all fields of science and engineering. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. See the ScienceLives archive.