I'm Olivia, and I like working on everyday problems that loom large. I find solutions that help people and build trust.
I’m currently a behavioral economists at Propel, where we build technology that is modern, effective, respectful, and 100% built for Americans with low incomes. For example, I just helped launch free and easy tax filing in-app, for our more than 5 million users who get food stamps (SNAP). I find it incredibly exciting and rewarding to make everyday interactions a little easier, and track the impact.
Recently, I've worked with Australia's largest bank to design, deploy and rigorously evaluate a data-driven technology platform to make it easier to claim government benefits for millions of low-income customers. I've helped launch a cloud platform housing massive medical imaging datasets for social good. And I've led a group of expert volunteers producing technical assistance for use by the White House, Treasury, and IRS, to improve delivery of the advanced Child Tax Credit.
I'm trained as a political scientist and behavioral economist. In 2020 I got my PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where I wrote a dissertation on how the design of public policies can promote, or undermine, trust in government. Since then, I've been a postdoctoral fellow, with my favorite economist Richard Thaler, at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the Center for Decision Research.
With the help of large-scale RCTs, survey experiments and field work in the United States, Sweden and Australia, I've studied social policy delivery, taxation design, public-private partnerships, and how citizens view government in their everyday lives. I draw on insights from political science, behavioral economics, psychology, public policy and public administration.
I've done prior work with unhoused populations, refugees, women experiencing abuse, formerly incarcerated individuals, and exploited workers in the US, Scandinavia and Latin America. I've helped teach the MIT undergraduate course on European Politics, as well as the JPAL Executive Education Course on Evaluating Social Programs. I'm also a visiting scholar at The People Lab at UC Berkeley, an affiliated researcher of Misum at the Stockholm School of Economics, and a member of the Harvard STAR Lab.
Before joining MIT, I worked as a research and policy associate at the Community Training and Assistance Center in Boston, where I focused on education policy and civil society. Prior to that, I graduated summa cum laude from Wellesley College with a BA in Peace and Justice Studies, Spanish, and Psychology. My degree includes studies of European law at the Universidad Carlos III in Madrid, running laboratory studies at the MIT Behavioral Research Lab, and field research on civil war and gang violence in Central America.
My work has been generously supported by MIT, Harvard University's Center for European Studies, the MIT Political Experiments Research Lab, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and the Harvard STAR Lab. I received the Alice Freeman Palmer Graduate Fellowship awarded by Wellesley College, and was awarded the Prince Bertil Prize by the Sweden-America Foundation.