Katherine Milkman

Katherine Milkman


Associate Professor of Operations, Information, and Decisions

Katherine Milkman is an associate professor at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and she has a secondary appointment as an associate professor at the Perelman School of Medicine. Her research relies heavily on “big data” to document various ways in which individuals systematically deviate from making optimal choices. Her work has paid particular attention to the question of what factors produce self-control failures (e.g., undersaving for retirement, exercising too little, eating too much junk food) and how to reduce the incidence of such failures. (Watch Katherine give a 5-minute presentation about her research on motivating exercise.)

She 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 in The New Yorker as well as what New York Times stories and science stories are most widely shared. (See a presentation about what types of science stories spread.)

Katherine is the recent recipient of an early career award from the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences, and when under 30, Milkman was named one of the world’s top 40 business school professors under 40 by Poets and Quants.  Her over two dozen articles in leading social science journals such as Management ScienceProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and The Journal of Finance have reached a wide audience through multiple op-eds in The New York Timesand frequent coverage in major media outlets such as NPRThe Financial TimesHarvard Business ReviewThe Huffington PostThe New York Times, and Forbes. She is the author of two of the 800 most downloaded papers (out of 500,000) on the Social Science Research Network and is also an associate editor for the Behavioral Economics Department at Management Science and a member of the Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes Editorial Board.

Katherine has received numerous awards for her ability to communicate ideas to students. She is a recipient of the excellence in teaching award for the Wharton undergraduate division, 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 has worked with numerous companies on research and/or consulting, including Evive Health, Quickflix, Google, the American Red Cross, Cummins Engines, Wipro, HelloWallet, and StickK.

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.