Steven W. Popper

Photo of Steven Popper
Senior Economist; Professor of Science and Technology Policy, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D. in economics, University of California, Berkeley; B.S. in biochemistry, University of Minnesota

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Steven W. Popper is a senior economist at the RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. As associate director of the RAND Science and Technology Policy Institute (1996–2001), Popper provided research and analytic support to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and other agencies of the Executive Branch. His current work is on decisionmaking under deep uncertainty, science and technology policy, broadly based strategic decision processes, foresight and future studies, and security planning. He coauthored the flagship study of the RAND Pardee Center for Longer Range Global Policy and the Future Human Condition, Shaping the Next One Hundred Years: New Methods for Quantitative, Long-Term Policy Analysis (2003), which provides a new methodological framework for decisionmaking under deep uncertainty that has been applied to an expanding set of policy issues. His research also focuses on regional economic development and international economics. He has served as a consultant to the World Bank and OECD. He is past chair of the Industrial Science and Technology section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and serves as an external advisor to the Ohio State Battelle Center for Science and Technology Policy, the Shoresh Institution and the Israel Innovation Policy Institute. He is the current chair for education and training of the international Society for Decision Making under Deep Uncertainty. Popper received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.S summa cum laude in biochemistry from the University of Minnesota.

Concurrent Non-RAND Positions

Chief Operating Officer, Evolving Logic, Inc.

Recent Projects

  • Strategy under uncertainty
  • Computer-assisted reasoning
  • Energy strategy
  • Science and technology–based regional development
  • Innovation adaptation

Selected Publications

Vincent Marchau, Warren Walker, Pieter Bloemen, Steven Popper (eds.), Decision Making Under Deep Uncertainty: From Theory to Practice, Springer Verlag, 2019

Liisa Ecola, Steven W. Popper, Richard Silberglitt, and Laura Fraade-Blanar, The Road to Zero: A Vision for Achieving Zero Roadway Deaths by 2050, (RR-2333), 2018

Steven W. Popper, Nidhi Kalra, Richard Silberglitt, Edmundo Molina-Perez, Youngbok Ryu, Michael Scarpati, Expediting Future Technologies for Enhancing Transportation System Performance, Transportation Research Board (NCHRP Report 750, Volume 3), 2013

Keith Crane, Howard J. Shatz, Shanthi Nataraj, Steven W. Popper, Xiao Wang, An Outline of Strategies for Building an Innovation System for Knowledge City, RAND (MG-1240), 2012

Steven W. Popper, Claude Berrebi, James Griffin, Thomas Light, Endy Y. Min, Keith Crane, Natural Gas and Israel's Energy Future: Near-Term Decisions from a Strategic Perspective, RAND (MG-927), 2009

Steven Popper and Robert Lempert "High Performance Government for an Uncertain World," in Robert Klitgaard and Paul C. Light, eds., High-Performance Government: Structure, Leadership, Incentives, RAND Corporation (MG-256), 2005

Steven W. Popper, Robert J. Lempert, David G. Groves, and Steven C. Bankes, "A General, Analytic Method for Generating Robust Strategies and Narrative Scenarios," Management Science, 2006

Robert J. Lempert, Steven W. Popper, Steve Bankes, Shaping the Next One Hundred Years: New Methods for Quantitative Long-Term Policy Analysis, RAND Corporation (MR-1626), 2004

Honors & Awards

  • Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science


Hungarian; Russian; German


  • Participants are seen in silhouette as they look at a screen showing a world map with climate anomalies during the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, December 8, 2015

    Paris Gets the (Decision) Science Right

    The framework for the Paris negotiations is in sync with what science tells us about how to make effective public policy decisions. This alone makes them historic and may provide a model for both local and global action on more than climate alone.

    Dec 18, 2015 The RAND Blog

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko (2nd L) attend a signing ceremony during a session of the Supreme State Council of the Union State at the Kremlin in Moscow, March 3, 2015

    Europe Must Spend More on Arms to Deter Putin

    Demonstrations in Greece and elsewhere suggest that the European public may have little sympathy for governments not devoting most efforts to domestic discontent and foreign indebtedness. But the longtime downward trends in European defense spending matter now that Russia has chosen to flex its military might, diminished though it may be.

    Mar 3, 2015 Newsweek

  • EPA administrator Gina McCarthy announces steps under the Clean Air Act to cut carbon pollution from power plants during a news conference on June 2, 2014

    New Coal Plant Rules Need Sustained Support to Succeed

    Stopping climate change will require the United States and the rest of the world to virtually eliminate emissions over the course of the 21st century. Getting anywhere close to zero emissions demands sustained political and public support, driven by an energy production sector given enough incentives to make carbon reduction succeed.

    Jun 30, 2014 The Sacramento Bee