Stanford University

To make real impact in the world, I believe you need the support of a terrific organization. I feel fortunate to have been affiliated with Stanford for almost 25 years -- since 1993. Along the way I've been inspired by peers, challenged by students, and guided by Stanford's ethos of making the world a better place.

On the teaching side of things, I’m currently appointed in Stanford’s Graduate School of Education. Previously I taught my classes in the Department of Computer Science. At times I contribute at the d.School and the Symbolic Systems Program. No matter the department or program, I welcome students from across campus to join my courses and to do research in my lab. Most are graduate students, but I like working with smart and motivated undergrads as well.

Our Stanford Lab

At the Stanford Behavior Design Lab I work with eight students from various disciplines to tackle today’s toughest challenges that relate to behavior change. During the summer and fall of 2020, our lab is focusing on three projects: 


Climate Action Project:


Our Stanford lab is researching how to best train climate professionals in behavior change methods so they can be more effective in saving our planet. Before the end of 2020, my team hopes to develop and share a free online curriculum for professionals working in this area.

Screentime Reduction:


Our lab’s Screentime Reduction Project builds on our groundbreaking work in 2019. After compiling the world’s largest database of methods for reducing screen time, in 2020 we entered a new phase of running experiments in order to evaluate those methods and improve our online tool. We want to help people around the world reduce unproductive time spent with technology. You can find more here:


Vaccination Project:


Our lab’s newest project builds on my 2020 Stanford course, “Behavior Design for Coronavirus Challenges.” In anticipation of an effective and safe vaccine, our lab team is spotlighting the opportunities and challenges of global vaccination. Using Behavior Design, we are offering experts new ways to understand existing research on vaccination campaigns, as well as giving guidance on how to prioritize efforts both globally and locally. 


My Teaching

For about 10 years I taught my models and methods for Stanford's Department of Computer Science. As my interest evolved away from technology, I also changed departments. Today my teaching appointment is in the Graduate School of Education.


Usually I keep my class sizes small, and students apply to join by doing a small project that shows their skills in judgment and communication. I try to admit a diverse group--from different majors, ages, ethnicities--because I believe this makes a better class for everyone. (And sorry: I don't allow auditors, though sometimes I will welcome a guest to join one or two classes.)

Each year I create a new course to teach -- something that has never been done before. My classes always relate to human behavior in some way, but I explore from different angles. The first day of class I tell students that my courses are like a start-up. We have a plan for now, but I'm quite sure that plan will change. And I don't know if we will succeed. Why? Because no one has ever explored this topic before, and no one has ever taught a class like this before. They need to be flexible; they need to help the class move forward in a good way. And then I invite them to drop the class by saying, "If this kind of class scares you, then you need to drop and find a class that is more traditional."


So what happens? Almost no one drops. Most students love the idea of a groundbreaking class. And I do too. For 10 weeks we get to explore an important new area together. 


A Few Former Students

Below I highlight some of my former students and lab members. As a teacher for all, and a mentor for some, I am grateful for the opportunity. I always challenge my students to use what they've learned from me to make the world a better place.