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Heinz College experts are trusted voices in the most crucial policy debates

Heinz College Policy Impact

From Washington, D.C. to Silicon Valley, Heinz College experts create and inform policies that will shape the future of our nation, society, and world.

Martin Gaynor speaking to the FTC

Whether it's driving groundbreaking research, speaking on expert panels, testifying before Congress and other government bodies, elevating the use of technology in the public policy sphere, testing new ideas and programs, or sharing perspectives in the media, Heinz College's cross-disciplinary thought leaders are out in front on the most pressing issues of our time.

From health care and trade to criminal justice and national security, there is no shortage of consequential policy debates in the United States and abroad. Heinz College confronts such complex problems with novel approaches and innovative methodologies guided by evidence.

Heinz College doesn't just participate in these conversations. We lead them, shift them, and shape them.

Jump to a Policy Area:


Professor Dan Nagin speaking in a classroom

Heinz College is leading research in criminal justice including recidivism, policing, and the use of algorithms in sentencing; drug policy research includes studies of new cannabis markets, substance abuse, and the reduction/prevention of opioid deaths.

Key Experts: Al Blumstein, Jonathan Caulkins, Daniel Nagin


Alessandro Acqusiti giving a speech about data privacy

As the world becomes more connected and data is both generated and collected at unprecedented rates, the need for policy solutions in cybersecurity and privacy have grown tremendously. Key areas of research and influence include risk management, election security, and privacy economics.

Key Experts: Alessandro Acquisti, Rahul Telang, Randall Trzeciak


Mike Smith giving a TED talk

Many industries have been turned upside down by technology and big data, which has caused the rise of new business models as well as complex consumer behaviors and legal concerns. Our experts inform policymakers and industry leaders alike on how 21st century innovations like social media and digital streaming impact economics, politics, and culture.

Key Experts: Pedro Ferreira, Beibei Li, Michael D. Smith, Rahul Telang

Energy, Environment & SUSTAINABILITY

Karen Clay in her office

Rapid social and political changes have placed increasing demands on institutions to be agents of equity. Our energy experts, environmental economists, and sustainability leaders dig deep into the effects of climate change, regulations, and adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals on crucial areas like health; clean air, water and soil; child development; equality and justice; and the global economy.

Key Experts: Karen Clay, Akshaya Jha, Sarah Mendelson, Edson Severnini

Health care

Amelia Haviland speaking at CMU

Our faculty push the boundaries of what's possible in health care, whether its groundbreaking analysis of existing and emerging health care markets and models, or opening new frontiers in health care powered by technology.

Key Experts: George Chen, Martin Gaynor, Amelia Haviland, Rema Padman, Jeremy Weiss

LABOR Economics, Trade & Immigration

Lee Branstetter speaking at the Peterson InstitutePhoto: Peterson Institute/Jeremey Tripp

At the intersection of technology and society, the areas of economics, trade, and immigration face complex and evolving questions. Topics of research include the future of work—including economic disruption and labor displacement fueled by automation and AI—the effects of immigration on local economies, the rise of China as an economic power, and the impact of trade wars, past and current.

Key Experts: Lee Branstetter, Brian Kovak, Lowell Taylor


Karen Lightman speaking at a Brookings Institution eventPhoto: Brookings Institution/Paul Morigi

One of the most profound changes in the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be the coming online of smart cities and communities across the globe, which will create new possibilities for citizen engagement, public safety, economic growth, and quality of life. Heinz College is a global leader in advancing smart cities research and policy.

Key Experts: Stan Caldwell, Mark Kamlet, Karen Lightman, Sean Qian, Raj Rajkumar, Richard Stafford


Ramayya Krishnan speaking to Governors Association

Policy and technology have historically been separate domains, but more and more the lines between the two—and the demands they place on each other—are blurring. From the future of work to algorithmic bias, technology has the potential to reshape our society, and our experts are visionaries who advise policymakers and craft solutions that will ensure technology has broad and inclusive social benefits.

Key Experts: Ramayya Krishnan, Leman Akoglu, Lee Branstetter, Alexandra Chouldechova, Rayid Ghani, Christopher Goranson, Kristen Kurland, Rahul Telang


student developed policy proposals

Our students work alongside leading faculty researchers to explore critical policy questions and devise evidence-based, implementable solutions. Research projects are completed via independent study or in courses designed to promote policy analysis and research. Students are also encouraged to participate in student-run policy publications and initiatives, including the Heinz Journal and Heinz Radio.

Papers and Policy Proposals:


Our students and faculty regularly have meaningful engagements with leaders from the City of Pittsburgh, local and county agencies, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, national politicians including U.S. Representatives Mike Doyle (PA-18) and Conor Lamb (PA-17), and distinguished guest speakers and lecturers.

  • Representative Mike Doyle speaks at Heinz College
  • Representative Conor Lamb speaks at Heinz College
  • U.S. Senator Bob Casey speaking at Heinz College
  • Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman
  • Democratic Candidates for US Senate debate at Heinz College
  • Republican Candidates for Governor of PA debate at Heinz College


Heinz College has hosted several high-profile primary debates, as well as speaker series events with elected leaders.

Carmen Yulin Cruz speaking to students at Heinz College


San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz (HNZ '86) came to campus for conversations about energy resilience and leadership.

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Susie Lee in a classroom of elementary students


U.S. Rep Susie Lee (HNZ '90) recently won election to Congress from Nevada's 3rd district. She met with our policy students in DC to discuss how CMU shaped her approach to leadership.

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Barack Obama speaking at CMU


President Obama held the White House Frontiers Conference at CMU to discuss building America's capacity in science, technology, and innovation

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Our faculty and alumni are frequently called to testify before Congress. Recent appearances include:

Equitable Algorithms

Prof. Rayid Ghani speaks to the House Financial Services Committee as part of the Task Force on Artificial Intelligence.

Decoding Health Care Markets

Prof. Martin Gaynor testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on the Effects of Consolidation and Anticompetitive Conduct in Health Care Markets

China and Technology

Prof. Lee Branstetter testifies before the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission on how to address China’s alleged misappropriation of foreign technology without stirring up a...

Overcoming Pharmaceutical Barriers

Alumna Tara O'Neill Hayes (MSPPM 2014) of the American Action Forum testified before the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee.