Lerner Named to Secretary of the Navy Advisory Panel

June 16, 2016
by Doug Gavel

Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Professor Jennifer Lerner has been named to the U.S. Secretary of the Navy Advisory Panel (SNAP).  She is the first behavioral scientist and one of the first women to ever serve on the panel.

Lerner, the recipient of many awards, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers – the highest award bestowed by the federal government to scholars at early-stages in their careers – is the first psychologist to receive tenure at Harvard Kennedy School. Drawing insights from psychology, economics, and neuroscience, Lerner’s research examines human judgment and decision making.  She served as founding director of the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory.  Together with colleagues, she has developed a theoretical framework that successfully predicts the effects of specific emotions on specific judgment and choice outcomes.  Lerner also pursues two related programs of research.  One examines mechanisms through which accountability and other authority systems shape judgment and choice outcomes; the other examines causes and consequences of stress.  Her work has revealed, for example, pathways through which bio-behavioral factors (e.g., testosterone and cortisol) predict stress and leadership rank among government, military, and corporate professionals.  Across all areas, her work aims to expand the evidentiary base for designing policies that maximize human wellbeing.

SNAP was established “to provide independent advice and recommendations on critical matters concerning the Department of the Navy…[including] administration and management, recruitment and training, equipment installation and maintenance, military and civilian manpower systems, basing and support infrastructure, and logistical support.”  Its members are considered “eminent authorities in the fields of science, research, finance, history, engineering, business, and industry.” They are appointed for terms of service ranging from one to four years.

“I’ve enjoyed teaching Navy and Marine Corps officers in my courses at the Kennedy School,” Lerner said. “I look forward to applying insights from behavioral science, especially from decision science, to critical system-level matters faced by the Navy and the Marines.”

As of the June 16, 2016 panel meeting, core panel members (in addition to Lerner) include:

  • Admiral William Studeman (Ret.) (Chair), former Director of the NSA; former CIA Deputy Director; also former CIA Acting Director;
  • The Honorable Denis Bovin, Senior Advisor, Evercore Partners, investment bank advisory firm; formerly CEO and Chairman of Stone Key Partners;
  • Dr. Jerrold Green, President and CEO of the Pacific Council on International Policy; also Research Professor of Communications and Business at the University of Southern California – Annenberg;
  • Ms. Virginia Kamsky, Chairman and CEO of Kamsky Associates, Inc, an international strategic advisory firm;
  • Mr. George Nolfi, writer (e.g., Bourne Ultimatum), director and producer of film and television;
  • Ms. Alicia Minana, CEO of Law Offices of Alicia Minana, transnational attorney;
  • Admiral Patrick Walsh (Ret.), formerly 59th Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, 35th Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Commander of US Naval Forces Central Command.

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Professor Jennifer Lerner

Jennifer Lerner, professor of public policy and management

“I’ve enjoyed teaching Navy and Marine Corps officers in my courses at the Kennedy School,” Lerner said. “I look forward to applying insights from behavioral science, especially from decision science, to critical system-level matters faced by the Navy and the Marines.”


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