The End of the Enlightenment?

A free, one-day conference to explore the role of science in the public debate and how science itself is shaped by societal forces.

The USC Center for Economic and Social Research’s 10th anniversary conference

Discussant biographies

Joanne Yoong, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Research for Impact Pte Ltd

Joanne Yoong, PhD, is an applied micro-economist and interdisciplinary researcher working on consumer and household decision-making in vulnerable populations. Dr Yoong holds multiple faculty appointments and is the author of over eighty peer-reviewed articles in leading economics, medical and public health journals. She has worked on projects around the world including Singapore, the United States, India, China, Ghana, Kenya, Cambodia, Indonesia and Iraqi Kurdistan. Dr Yoong received her PhD in Economics at Stanford University as an FSI Starr Foundation Fellow after an early career in financial services, and her AB summa cum laude in Economics and Applied and Computational Mathematics from Princeton University. 

Néstor de Buen, Writer

Néstor de Buen is an independent writer and researcher. He holds a B.A. in political science from CIDE in Mexico City and an M.A. in social sciences from the University of Chicago where he focused mainly on ethics and epistemology. His writing on politics, science, and their intersection has been published in several Spanish and English language outlets

Paul Smaldino, Associate Professor of Cognitive and Information Sciences, University of California, Merced

Paul Smaldino is Associate Professor of Cognitive and Information Sciences at UC Merced and an External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute. His research focuses on the interplay between individual behavior and social structure. His book, Modeling Social Behavior: Mathematical and Agent-Based Models of Social Dynamics and Cultural Evolution, is due out in October 2023. 

Ishwar Puri, Senior Vice President, Research and Innovation, University of Southern California 

Ishwar K. Puri is Senior Vice President, Research and Innovation, and professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering at the University of Southern California. He oversees the USC Office of Research that guides the university’s research programs.

Puri is a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He is the author of over 200 archival publications and books that have been cited over 7,500 times on Google Scholar with an h-index of 49. Puri ranks among the top 2% of scientists globally based on the citations of those published between 1965 and 2019. He has founded and mentored startups, most recently Celerite Labs, a company that produces a rapid printer for cells and tissues.

Matthew Nisbet, Professor of Communication, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University

Matthew C. Nisbet is Professor of Communication, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University, editor-in-chief of the journal Environmental Communication, and a monthly columnist at Issues in Science and Technology magazine. He also writes regularly at Scientific

Norbert Schwarz, Provost Professor of Psychology and Marketing, University of Southern California 

Norbert Schwarz, Provost Professor of Psychology and Marketing and co-director of the Mind & Society Center at the University of Southern California, investigates the context sensitivity of human judgment and decision-making and its implications for public opinion, consumer behavior, and social science research. He is a fellow of the German National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Academia Europaea, and the recipient of scientific contribution awards in psychology, consumer behavior, and public opinion research.