Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences, University of Pennsylvania ‘18
Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Pennsylvania ‘17
Sriram Sridharan (Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences ’18) values evidence-based decisions—whether in pursuit of the positive health outcomes that drive his work or in regard to his own professional choices. Before interviewing with ideas42, a non-profit design and consulting firm where he now designs and analyzes research projects in global health, Sriram examined a behavioral diagnosis framework developed by the company and applied it to his capstone project for the Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences (MBDS) program. “Using this framework exposed me to the organization’s methodology and gave me a good idea of what working for them would entail,” he explains.
Sriram’s decision to enroll in the MBDS program involved a similar trial. Majoring in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, Sriram first encountered behavioral economics when searching for a more empirical approach to his studies. He completed his undergraduate capstone seminar with S. J. Patterson Harvie Professor of Philosophy and Psychology Cristina Bicchieri, who was then developing the MBDS program. “Doing the undergraduate capstone seminar with Dr. Bicchieri gave me insight into this entirely new field that I had no previous exposure to, and how it might apply to real-world projects that achieve change,” Sriram explains. He also worked with Dr. Bicchieri on a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded project to influence social norms around sanitation practices in India.
Now, Sriram works with ideas42 to apply insights from the behavioral sciences to address complex health problems around the world: for example, incentivizing healthcare providers to use rapid diagnostic tests before prescribing malarial treatment and encouraging individuals to seek care and treatment for tuberculosis in the Philippines. “I’m surprised at how much of my education I’m applying on a day-to-day basis,” says Sriram, who supplemented his behavioral science curriculum with global health electives from Perelman School of Medicine and The School of Social Policy & Practice. “The MBDS program gave me the flexibility to explore cross-applications of behavioral science and public and global health, which is tremendously useful in my line of work. I’m very happy that I am using so much of what I learned this last year.”