Katherine Milkman is the Evan C. Thompson Endowed Term Chair for Excellence in Teaching and a tenured associate professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She holds a secondary appointment at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine. Her research relies heavily on big data to document the systematic ways people deviate from making optimal choices. Her work has paid particular attention to what produces self-control failures (e.g., under-saving for retirement, exercising too little, eating too much junk food) and how to improve decisions. In her TEDx talk, she describes her findings about how to change behavior for good. Katherine has also explored race and gender discrimination, focusing on how a decision's context can alter the manifestation of bias; and, she has examined what types of stories are published and widely-shared in popular periodicals.
Katherine has received numerous awards for her research including an early career award from the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences. When under 30, Milkman was named one of the world’s top 40 business school professors under 40 by Poets and Quants. Her dozens of published articles in leading social science journals such as Management Science, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and The Journal of Finance have reached a wide audience through frequent coverage in major media outlets such as NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Financial Times, and Harvard Business Review. She regularly writes op-eds for national newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post and her work has been featured repeatedly by Freakonomics Radio.
Katherine has also been recognized with many accolades for her ability to communicate ideas to students. She received the excellence in teaching award for the Wharton undergraduate division in 2015 and 2016, was voted Wharton's “Iron Prof” by the school’s MBA students for a PechaKucha-style presentation of her research, and was one of ten finalists in 2014 and 2015 for the Anvil Award for Wharton’s most outstanding MBA teacher.
She is an associate editor for the Behavioral Economics Department at Management Science and an elected member of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making’s Executive Board. Katherine also co-directs the Behavior Change for Good Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, whose mission was described by this Freakonomics Podcast.
She has worked with numerous organizations on research and/or consulting, including Humana, Google, Wipro, Cummins Engines, the U.S. Department of Defense and the American Red Cross.
Katherine received her undergraduate degree from Princeton University (summa cum laude) in Operations Research and Financial Engineering and her Ph.D. from Harvard University's joint program in Computer Science and Business.