Senior Research Scientist
Dr. Sarah Helfinstein leads analytics and insight generation to drive policy and program design in a number of Surgo priority areas. She is passionate about using data to understand human behavior, and believes that understanding what drives individuals’ behavior within a system is essential to effecting transformational change. Along with her colleagues at Surgo, Sarah aims to provide data-driven solutions that can improve health interventions.
Sarah comes to Surgo with many years of experience both in the private sector and in academia. Prior to joining Surgo, Sarah worked as a Senior Data Scientist for an online marketplace, applying machine learning techniques to large-scale data to understand key drivers of consumer behavior. Before this, she was a Research Assistant Professor with the Maryland Neuroimaging Center at the University of Maryland College Park, where her work focused on understanding how the brain encodes information about risky decisions, in particular information about the risk-taking behavior of one’s peers. Sarah completed her postdoctoral training at the University of Texas at Austin, where she used predictive modeling techniques to predict, based on neural activity, whether an individual would go on to make a risky or safe choice in a risk-taking game. She received her PhD in Neuroscience and Cognitive Sciences from the University of Maryland College Park, and BAs in Biology and Psychology from the University of Chicago.