David Yokum, JD, PhD is Director of The Policy Lab at Brown University, where he leads a wide portfolio of work leveraging scientific methods to improve public policy and operations. David is also an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Watson Institute and Senior Advisor to The Lab @ DC.
David was previously the founding director of The Lab @ DC in the D.C. Mayor’s Office and, before that, a founding member of the White House’s Social & Behavioral Sciences Team and director of its scientific delivery unit housed at the U.S. General Services Administration. President Obama institutionalized the latter work in Executive Order 13707, “Using Behavioral Science Insights to Better Serve the American People.” All three ventures were exemplars of building internal-to-government scientific capacity and partnerships with universities, which have since inspired replications across the world.
David’s work—from the world’s largest field experiment of a police body-worn camera program, to building algorithms that predict the location of rats, to a Form-a-Palooza initiative systematically re-designing all government forms—has been published in diverse outlets (e.g. Nature Human Behavior, PNAS, Health Affairs, Governing Magazine), received widespread media coverage (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, etc.), and impacted individuals and communities across the country. Upwards of 100 field experiments have now been completed under The Policy Lab, The Lab @ DC, and the Office of Evaluation Sciences.
David was the host of The Podcast @ DC and currently a new podcast called 30,000 Leagues, which explores work at the nexus of science, public policy, and life in general. His public speaking won the Excellence in Teaching Award from the University of Arizona, and his applied work has received numerous accolades, including the COSSA Public Impact Award.
He earned a J.D. and Ph.D. (psychology: cognition and neural systems) from the University of Arizona, a Master’s degree in Bioethics & Medical Humanities from the University of South Florida, and a B.S. in Biology from Birmingham-Southern College. He lives in Providence, RI with his spouse, Sara, and their two children, Ethan and Aaron.