Who We Are


The Philadelphia Behavioral Science Initiative is a partnership between members of the City government and behavioral scientists from Philadelphia-area colleges and universities, including the University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore College, Temple University, and Princeton University. 

Syon Bhanot

Syon Bhanot is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Swarthmore College, studying behavioral and public economics. He is also an academic affiliate at the Busara Center for Behavioral Economics and the Applied Cooperation Team at Yale University. His areas of research include pro-social behavior, environmental conservation, development, and personal finance decisions. Syon has worked with startups, social enterprises, cities, and international organizations, including the World Bank and the U.S. Agency for International Development, to apply the tools and methods of behavioral and experimental economics to solve real-world problems. (Email: sbhanot1@swarthmore.edu; Website: syonbhanot.com


Anjali Chainani


As Director of Policy, Anjali works closely with the executive team to forward the Administration’s priorities under Mayor James F. Kenney. Anjali coordinates policy development to ensure the success of important long-term city investments and works closely with City Council to sustain a shared agenda that will improve the education, health, and prosperity of Philadelphians. Anjali was instrumental in garnering support for Mayor Kenney’s first budget proposal, which introduced a new revenue source, the Sugar Sweetened Beverage Tax. As a Results for America Local Government Fellow, Anjali is working cross-departmentally to develop a 2 -3 Policy Roadmap to increase the use of data-driven solutions in City government.


Dan Hopkins

Dan Hopkins is currently an Associate Professor in the Political Science Department at the University of Pennsylvania, with a secondary appointment at the Annenberg School for Communication. He is a political scientist whose research centers on American politics, with a special emphasis on racial and ethnic politics, local politics, political behavior, and research methods. Before joining the University of Pennsylvania, he was a member of the White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team. (Website: danhopkins.org)



Yuan Huang


Yuan serves as the Assistant Director of Policy at the Mayor's Office of Policy and Legislation. She works to advance the current Administration's policy priorities. Yuan’s work focuses on addressing policy issues regarding sustainability,  education, and transportation. During the passage of the sweetened beverage tax, she led communication between Berkeley, CA and national health researchers. Yuan is a graduate of Temple University in Geography and Urban Studies.



Evan Nesterak

Evan Nesterak is the Co-founder of The Psych Report, a nonprofit online behavioral science news magazine. Evan earned his BA from Swarthmore College in 2009, where he studied psychology and statistics. While working with Barry Schwartz, Evan developed an interest in applying psychology to social, economic, and political issues. Recently, he researched character development with Angela Duckworth at the University of Pennsylvania. Currently, he is the Project Director for the Mindset Assessment Project, which aims to understand and facilitate youth development through sports. (Email: evan@thepsychreport.com)



Nandi O'Connor


Nandi serves as the Policy and Digital Content Manager in the Mayor's Office of Policy and Legislation. Prior to the administration, Nandi worked as a staffer on Mayor James F. Kenney's successful general election campaign. Prior to that, Nandi worked to organize and mobilize community members in North Philadelphia in the capacity of a Field Fellow for President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign while studying at Temple University. Nandi currently supports the work of the Policy office by conducting qualitative and quantitative research to better inform policy priorities. In her role, Nandi has the opportunity to analyze policy trends from other cities and evaluate feasible options for Philadelphia.



Susanne Schwarz


Susanne Schwarz is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Political Science at the Department of Politics at Princeton University, with a substantive focus on political behavior and psychology. Susanne holds a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, where she was recognized as a McCloy Fellow, and a B.A. in Political Science from Freie Universität Berlin. In the past, she worked as a consultant for the Gender and Development Group at the World Bank, and interned with the German Development Cooperation (GIZ), the European Union Delegation to the United States, and the European Parliament. (Email: susanneschwarz@princeton.edu



Marisa Waxman

Marisa Waxman serves as First Deputy Revenue Commissioner for the City of Philadelphia. Ms. Waxman began her government career with the Philadelphia City Controller’s Office. Additionally, she held positions with the City of Philadelphia in the Office of Property Assessment and the Office of the Director of Finance. Ms. Waxman has also been a Senior Project Manager for the New York City Department of Finance, focusing on revenue collection and administration, and on staff at the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, focusing on government performance improvements, budget analysis, and civic engagement. Ms. Waxman holds a Bachelors degree and Master of City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a member of American Planning Association, maintains accreditation with the American Institute of City Planning (AICP) and is active in several civic and non-profit organizations.



The City of Philadelphia, the Fels Policy Research Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility at Swarthmore College have come together to support the Philadelphia Behavioral Science Initiative.

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