Fay Lomax Cook to Deliver April 26 IPR Public Policy Lecture

By Roger AndersonApril 16, 2018

National Science Foundation Assistant Director Fay Lomax Cook is being welcomed back to Northwestern this month as the Institute for Policy Research (IPR) Distinguished Public Policy Lecturer.

"I can think of no more perfect speaker for IPR’s Distinguished Public Policy Lecture series than Fay Lomax Cook," says economist Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, IPR director. "As the head of the National Science Foundation’s Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate, Fay combines her extensive academic experience with a deep understanding of how ideas get incorporated into policy."

Cook, a professor in Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy and an IPR faculty fellow, is a social policy expert whose research focuses on the interrelationships between public opinion and social policy, the politics of public policy, public deliberation, and the dynamics of public support for programs for older Americans, particularly Social Security.

She has been on leave from Northwestern since accepting a leadership role at NSF in September 2014. She is also currently serving as co-chair for the White House National Science and Technology Council's interagency Social and Behavioral Sciences Subcommittee of the Committee on Science and as co-chair of the federal interagency committee to assess research needs related to the nation’s opioid crisis. Cook previously served as IPR director from 1996 to 2012.

"It is an absolute joy to welcome Fay back to campus,” says James Druckman, Payson S. Wild Professor of Political Science and IPR associate director. "Her legacy as IPR director for 16 years is everlasting — she built on IPR’s strong foundation to create an even more collaborative interdisciplinary culture that is without peer."

Cook will use her talk to briefly describe NSF’s 10 “Big Ideas," before focusing on one in particular, "The Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier.” She will describe some of what humanity does, and does not know about how rapidly emerging technologies from artificial intelligence (AI) to robotics are changing the workforce and workers’ lives. She will also explore how social and behavioral scientists can work with computer scientists, engineers, and educators to develop technologies that can work collaboratively with humans — for example, as cognitive and physical assistants.

The free public lecture will take place April 26 from 4-5:30 p.m. at Hardin Hall, located in the Rebecca Crown Center, 633 Clark St., Evanston. Registration is required by April 23. For more information, please contact Ellen Dunleavy.