Principal Investigators


Elizabeth Rhodes

Elizabeth Rhodes is the Research Director for the Basic Income Study at Y Combinator Research. She completed a joint PhD in Social Work and Political Science at the University of Michigan in 2016, where her research focused on health and education provision in informal settlements, workforce development, and poverty prevention and alleviation strategies. Elizabeth also holds an MSW from Michigan.


Alex Bartik

Alex Bartik is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Research Affiliate of the Poverty Lab at the University of Chicago. Bartik's research and teaching interests include labor economics, public finance, and applied econometrics. He received his PhD in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2017.

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David Broockman

David Broockman is an Assistant Professor of Political Economy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. His research brings field experiments to new domains in order to understand how individuals decide. He received his PhD from UC Berkeley in 2015.

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Sarah Miller

Sarah Miller is a professor of Business Economics and Public Policy at the University of Michigan. Dr. Miller received her PhD in economics from the University of Illinois. Her research explores the intersection of physical and financial health and the long-term health and human capital effects of public policy interventions.


Sandra Smith

Sandra Susan Smith is Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology and the Interim Director of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research lies at the intersection of urban poverty, race and ethnicity, joblessness, social capital activation and mobilization.


Eva Vivalt

Eva Vivalt is a Lecturer (i.e. Assistant Professor) in Economics at the Australian National University. Dr. Vivalt received a PhD in Economics and MA in Mathematics from UC Berkeley and has research interests in applied econometrics, development economics, and public policy.


Jessica Wiederspan

Jessica Wiederspan is a postdoctoral fellow at YCR. Dr. Wiederspan completed a Joint PhD in Social Work and Sociology from the University of Michigan, where her work focused on how families in the U.S. make ends meet economically and understand their financial hardships. She also holds an MSW from Michigan.



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Ed Dolan 

Edwin G. Dolan holds a PhD in economics from Yale University. He has taught in the United States at  Dartmouth College, the University of Chicago, George Mason University and Gettysburg College. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Niskanen Center and lives in Northwest Lower Michigan.

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Greg Duncan

Greg Duncan is Distinguished Professor in the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine. Duncan’s recent work has focused on understanding the role of school-entry skills and behaviors on later attainment and the effects of family income on children’s life chances.

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Natalie Foster

Natalie is the co-chair of the Economic Security Project, a two year fund to support exploration and experimentation of unconditional cash transfers, and an advisor to the The Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative. Previously, Natalie served as digital director for President Obama’s Organizing for America (OFA) and the Democratic National Committee.

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David Grusky

David B. Grusky is Barbara Kimball Browning Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, Professor of Sociology, Senior Fellow of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, Director of the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, and coeditor of Pathways Magazine.

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Lawrence Katz

Lawrence F. Katz is the Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics at Harvard University and a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research.  His research focuses on issues in labor economics and the economics of social problems.


Connie Razza

Connie Razza serves as Director of Policy & Research at Demos. Before coming to Demos, Connie worked at the Center for Popular Democracy as Director of Campaigns and Director of Strategic Research. Prior to CPD, Connie did strategic research for community organizations and labor unions.

Connie holds a BA from Georgetown University and an MA and PhD from the University of California at Los Angeles.

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Cecilia Rouse 

Cecilia Elena Rouse is the dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, the Katzman-Ernst Professor in Economics and Education and professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University. She also serves on the boards of MDRC and the National Bureau of Economic Research, and was a member of President Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisers. Rouse earned her Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.

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Rachel Schneider

Rachel Schneider is a Senior Vice President at the Center for Financial Services Innovation, and co-author of The Financial Diaries: How American Families Cope in a World of Uncertainty. The Financial Diaries connects the findings of the ground-breaking U.S. Financial Diaries research project, which collected highly detailed data about how 235 households save, spend, borrow and plan over the course of a year, with the broad trends upending the economic lives of American families.


Luke Shaefer

H. Luke Shaefer, Ph.D. is the director of Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan, an interdisciplinary, university-level initiative that seeks to inform, identify, and test innovative strategies to prevent and alleviate poverty. He is an associate professor at the University of Michigan, School of Social Work and Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

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Eldar Shafir

Eldar Shafir is the Class of 1987 Professor of Behavioral Science and Public Policy at Princeton University, the Inaugural Director of Princeton’s Kahneman-Treisman Center for Behavioral Science and Public Policy, and co-founder and scientific director at ideas42, a social science R&D lab. He studies decision-making, cognitive science, and behavioral economics. His recent research has focused on decision-making in contexts of poverty and on the application of behavioral research to policy.


Sandra Smith

Sandra Susan Smith is Professor of Sociology and the Interim Director of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research lies at the intersection of urban poverty, race and ethnicity, joblessness, social capital activation and mobilization.


Michael Strain 

Michael R. Strain is Director of Economic Policy Studies and John G. Searle Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. His research interests include labor economics, public finance, and social policy. He is also a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), and holds a Ph.D. in economics from Cornell.

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Tavneet Suri

Tavneet Suri is an Associate Professor of Applied Economics at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Her expertise is as a development economist, specialized in Sub-Saharan Africa. Tavneet’s work cuts across multiple sectors related to international development, such as digital financial services for the poor, agriculture, and governance.

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Alford Young, Jr.

Alford A. Young, Jr. is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Sociology, Afroamerican and African Studies, and Public Policy (by courtesy) at the University of Michigan. His research focuses primarily on low-income African American men and how they construct understandings of social reality, including social mobility, work opportunities, and successful family life.


YC Research

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Sam Altman

Sam Altman is the chair of Y Combinator Research, the President of Y Combinator and the co-chair of OpenAI. He was cofounder and CEO of Loopt, which was funded by Y Combinator in 2005 and acquired by Green Dot in 2012. At Green Dot, he was the CTO and is now on the Board of Directors. Sam also founded Hydrazine Capital. He studied computer science at Stanford, and while there worked in the AI lab.


Iti Bhargava

Iti is a research associate on the Basic Income Project. Prior to joining YCR, Iti worked as a research associate at J-PAL South Asia on three randomized evaluations in labor markets and education. Iti also worked as a project assistant at Indian Institute of Technology, Madras in the environment sustainability lab. Iti has a Masters in economics from Yale University.

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Chris Clark 

Chris Clark is YC Research’s head of operations. Chris previously ran operations at Loopt, which was funded by Y Combinator in 2005 and acquired by Green Dot in 2012. More recently, he was Mayor of Mountain View and still serves on the city council. Chris has a BA in Political Science from Stanford University.

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David Lansky

David is YC Research’s General Counsel. Previously, David was Of Counsel at Wilson Sonsini and, most recently, was an intellectual property litigator at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer. David also serves as General Counsel at OpenAI.  


Sam Manning 

Sam is the research manager for the Basic Income Project. Prior to joining YCR, Sam managed an evaluation of a childhood health program in India and worked as a research analyst with the Evidence to Policy Initiative at UC San Francisco. Sam has a B.A. in International Affairs from Northeastern University and a M.S. in International and Development Economics from the University of San Francisco. 


Elizabeth Proehl

Elizabeth manages operations for YC Research. Most recently, she worked as a public radio producer and reporter at KPFA in Berkeley, California. She has a BA in Near Eastern Studies and Psychology from Cornell.



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