Research Team

Robert J. Blendon, Sc.D., Executive Director
Phone: 617-432-4502

Robert Blendon is the Richard L. Menschel Professor of Public Health and Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis, Emeritus. He also serves as Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis at both Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Dr. Blendon  served as the Senior Associate Dean for Policy Translation and Leadership Development at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He directs the Harvard Opinion Research Program. Dr. Blendon co-directs the Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) survey project, and a project for NPR and KFF on American attitudes toward health care. He is Past President of the Association of Health Services Research and winner of their Distinguished Investigator Award. He is also a recipient of the Baxter Award for lifetime achievement in the health services research field and the Warren J. Mitofsky Award for Excellence in Public Opinion Research.

John M. Benson, M.A., Senior Research Scientist and Managing Director
Phone: 617-432-1094

John M. Benson is a Senior Research Scientist and Managing Director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program. At Harvard since 1992, John has directed numerous national and international polling projects leading to more than 100 publications in New England Journal of Medicine, Health Affairs, JAMA, Public Opinion Quarterly, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Public Health Reports, Milbank Quarterly, Social Science Research, and other domestic policy and polling journals. He is also co-author of American Public Opinion and Health Care (CQ Press). John has managed survey projects with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, National Public Radio, USA Today, and the Boston Globe. He also played a key role in the design and analysis of a series of surveys with the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation on public knowledge, values, and attitudes on domestic policy issues. Previously, John was Associate Editor of Public Perspective and Senior Opinion Analyst at The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, where he was instrumental in the development of the POLL database, an essential research tool in the field of public opinion. He has an M.A. in History of Science from the University of Wisconsin.

Gillian SteelFisher, Ph.D., M.Sc., Senior Research Scientist and Deputy Director
Phone: 617-432-2859

Gillian SteelFisher is a Senior Research Scientist and Deputy Director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program. For more than a decade, her work has focused on understanding public response to infectious disease outbreaks. This includes key behavioral responses driving policies, including adoption of vaccines and medical countermeasures like antivirals, as well as non-pharmaceutical strategies like hand-washing, mask-wearing and social distancing. She has worked on H1N1, Zika, Ebola, Polio, and now COVID-19. With this focus, she also directs HORP’s international projects, aiming to better understand the ways that the public is responding to major public health issues across the globe. Dr. SteelFisher’s work has been instrumental in response and communications efforts for the CDC and UNICEF as well as state and local public health agencies across the United States. Dr. SteelFisher teaches applied survey methodology at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. She received her Ph.D. in Health Policy from Harvard University and her Masters in health behavior and communication from Harvard School of Public Health. She is the former President of the New England Chapter of the American Association for Public Opinion Research.

Hannah Caporello, Senior Research Projects Manager
Phone: 617-432-7032

Hannah Caporello is Senior Research Projects Manager for the Harvard Opinion Research Program. She manages HORP’s polling projects and other applied research activities designed to support public health agencies in real time during infectious disease outbreaks, including COVID-19, Zika, and polio. Before coming to HORP, Hannah was Program Associate at Citizens for Juvenile Justice in Boston working on policy advocacy for young people in Massachusetts’ criminal justice system. Hannah completed her undergraduate degree at New York University in public health and public policy. 

Mary Gorski Findling, Ph.D., Assistant Director

Mary G. Findling is the Assistant Director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program (HORP). She has been working with HORP for eight years, where she has designed surveys, written academic journal articles and polling reports, and tracked public opinion on health and social policies in the United States. Dr. Findling played a major role in designing The Impact of Coronavirus on Households Across America series, as well as Life in Rural AmericaSports and HealthWhat Shapes Health, and Workplace and Health with RWJF and NPR. Dr. Findling has contributed to more than 30 publications in journals including the American Journal of Public Health, New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA Pediatrics, and Obesity. Before joining Harvard, Dr. Findling worked on national food policy for the Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington, D.C. Dr. Findling earned a PhD in health policy from Harvard University in 2018. She also holds a Master of Science in social and behavioral sciences from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a BA in public health from Johns Hopkins University.

Rebekah Stein, Research Assistant 
Phone: 617-432-1093

Rebekah Stein is a Research Assistant at the Harvard Opinion Research Program. She supports research projects relating to health communication during COVID-19, and in particular, ways to reach people with limited English proficiency and how to build back trust in public health. She is particularly interested in studying health inequities and social determinants of health in order to reduce health disparities in the US. Rebekah graduated from Carleton College in 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a minor in public policy.

Chelsea Whitton Pearsall, Research Coordinator