Meet the team
Dr Michael Plant
Founder and Director
Whilst studying for his PhD in moral philosophy at the University of Oxford, Michael realised there was a pressing need for more research on the most cost-effective, evidence-based ways to improve global happiness – he founded the Happier Lives Institute in 2019 as a result. As well as directing HLI, Michael is also a Research Fellow at Oxford’s Wellbeing Research Centre. Before that, he was a research assistant to Peter Singer, a researcher for the Rt Hon Sir Michael Fallon MP, and founded Hippo, a happiness-tracking app.
Dr Lily Yu
Lily has worked at the intersection of philanthropy, research, innovation, and international development over the past decade. During this time, she has managed and advised on a range of grant-based programmes, impact investing initiatives, and policy recommendations to promote inclusive economic development and social innovation across the Asia-Pacific and Europe. She has a PhD in Neuroscience from University College London and was a Fellow at the University of Tokyo.
Dr Ryan Dwyer
Ryan joined HLI after completing his PhD in Social Psychology at the University of British Columbia. He helped conduct the first randomized controlled trial to investigate the impact of cash transfers for people experiencing homelessness and has explored how large cash donations can impact happiness and the spread of generosity. His prior projects have explored the relationship between happiness and meaning, the impact of technology on our social lives, and the effect of volunteering on well-being.
Joel’s work focuses on analysing the cost-effectiveness of different ways that charities can help people. His meta-analysis of the impact of cash transfers on subjective wellbeing and mental health (coauthored with Kaiser and Bach-Mortensen) was published in Nature Human Behaviour. Joel has a Masters in Economics and Data Science from the University of Oklahoma, graduating top of his class.
Samuel researches the cost-effectiveness of different interventions in terms of subjective wellbeing. His research interests include the strengths and flaws of different research methodologies, causality, and decision-making. Samuel has a Masters in Cognitive and Decision Sciences from University College London, gaining a distinction.
Peter is the CEO of the anxiety management app Mind Ease. He is a veteran of the effective altruism community with a background in philosophy, entrepreneurship, and project management.
Dr Samantha Bernecker
Sam is a Research Scientist at BetterUp. She earned her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University. Before joining BetterUp, she was a Clinical Research Scientist at Happify Health and a management consultant at Boston Consulting Group.
Dr Caspar Kaiser
Caspar is a Research Fellow at the Wellbeing Research Centre and a Research Officer at the Institute for New Economic Thinking where he completed his DPhil in Social Policy in December 2020. His research focuses on the measurement and determinants of wellbeing.
Prof Julian Jamison
Julian is a behavioural development economist with a particular focus on health and welfare analysis. He is currently Professor of Economics at the University of Exeter and works with the World Bank and multiple governments around the world.
Karolina is the co-founder and Director of Programs at Charity Entrepreneurship. She also serves as a fund manager for the Effective Altruism Animal Welfare Fund and a board member and advisor for various effective altruism non-profits.
Prof Peter Singer
Peter is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. He works on practical ethics, and is best known for the book Animal Liberation and his writings about global poverty.
Dr Tatjana Višak
Tatjana is a philosopher specialising in ethics and political philosophy. She is currently based in the Department of Philosophy and Economics at the University of Bayreuth.
Summer Research Fellows
2022 Cohort: Thomas Beuchot, Harry Lloyd, Madhav Malhotra, Conrad Samuelsson
2021 Cohort: Matt Coleman, Frank Hong, Chihiro Ito, Niall Maher, Amarins Veringa, Akash Wasil
Former volunteers and team members who have supported our work:
Kaleem Ahmid, Jide Alaga, Justus Baumann, Ethan Bialick, Joy Bittner, Lucia Coulter, Carmen Csilla Medina, Clare Donaldson, Brendan Eappen, Derek Foster, Barry Grimes, Tom Houlden, Ulf Johansson, Florian Kuhlmeier, Marcin Kowrygo, Fin Moorhouse, Nikita Patel, Teis Rasmussen, Vanessa See, Sid Sharma, Rachel Strate, Jasper Synowski, Alan Taylor, Eemaan Thind, Sonia Vallentin, Caitlin Walker.