What is the “What We Know” Project?

The “What We Know” Project is an online research portal based at Columbia Law School that marks a path-breaking convergence of scholarship, public policy and new media technology. Focusing on several pressing public policy debates, What We Know brings together in one place the preponderance of scholarly evidence that informs these debates so that policymakers, journalists, researchers and the public can make truly informed decisions about what policies and positions best serve the public interest.

How are the studies for the site chosen?

The studies are selected by the project staff, with the input of scholarly subject matter experts from universities across the U.S. and abroad, and with the counsel of the board of advisors. We use a strict set of criteria for credibility, relevance and usefulness. All studies must be peer-reviewed, published in a scholarly journal, and directly relevant to the policy question at hand. For more on our selection methodology, click here.

Who Operates the “What We Know” Project?

What We Know is a project of Columbia Law School. Its Director is Dr. Nathaniel Frank, an historian of American social and public policy. Its Principal Investigator is Katherine Franke, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School. It is governed by a distinguished Board of Advisors. Our bios appear below.


Faculty and Staff

Nathaniel Frank, Ph.D., Project Director

FRANK BOOK PICNathaniel Frank is an internationally recognized authority on LGBT public policy, having spent 15 years studying the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy restricting service by LGB people in the U.S. military. He has been a consulting research and communications strategist for LGBT organizations, including the University of California’s Palm Center and the Movement Advancement Project. Author of Unfriendly Fire, considered the definitive book on “don’t ask, don’t tell,” Dr. Frank served as an expert witness in two successful Constitutional challenges to the law in federal courts, and met with President Obama to discuss the policy weeks before it ended. He has appeared on “The Daily Show,” the Rachel Maddow Show and others, and he is a frequent contributor to Slate. His writings have also appeared in the New York Times, New York Magazine, Washington Post, Huffington Post, The Atlantic, The New Republic, USA Today, Los Angeles Times and elsewhere, including the Philadelphia Inquirer, his hometown newspaper.


Katherine Franke, Principal Investigator

Katherine Franke Photoine Franke is the Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, where she directs the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law. She is among the nation’s leading scholars in the area of feminism, sexuality and race. In the last 25 years she has authored briefs in cases addressing HIV discrimination, forced sterilization, same-sex sexual harassment, gender stereotyping, and transgender discrimination in the Supreme Court and other courts. In 2011 she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Professor Franke is on the Executive Committee for Columbia’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender, and the Center for Palestine Studies.


Ali Talan, Research Assistant

Ali Talan is a doctoral student in the Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Her practitioner experience is in program design and evaluation, with a focus on sexual health practices among LGBTQ youth. Her research interests focus on risk behaviors during adolescence and the transition into adulthood; health disparities in sexual minorities; HIV prevention; and the relationship between mental and sexual health. She is an Executive Committee member for the Tulane Society for Sexuality, Health and Gender.


Board of Advisors

Philip Cohen

Philip Cohen is professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park. He has conducted extensive research on families, gender, work, and inequality. He has consulted with the U.S. Census Bureau on household measurement issues, as well as publishing in demography and sociology journals on these questions. His book, The Family: Diversity, Inequality, and Social Change, was published in 2014. In addition to scholarly articles, his work has appeared in the New York Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Atlantic, Boston Review, and elsewhere. He is the co-editor of Contexts magazine, and has served on the boards of the Population and Family sections of the American Sociological Association.

Naomi Goldberg

NaomGoldberg pici Goldberg is a policy specialist at the LGBT Movement Advancement Project (MAP), where she leads the organization’s LGBT movement research analyses and also conducts research in support of MAP’s public policy work. Prior to joining MAP, Ms. Goldberg was the 2008-2010 Peter J. Cooper Public Policy Fellow at the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, where her research focused on adoption  and foster care, domestic partner benefits, and the issues affecting older LGBT Americans. She received a Master of Public Policy from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan and graduated magna cum laude from Mount Holyoke College. Her work has been published in the Journal of Health Psychology, Archives of Sexual Behavior, Journal of Family Theory & Review, PolicyMatters, Michigan Journal of Public Affairs, and TaxNotes.


Diane Mazur


Diane Mazur is Professor of Law Emeritus at the University of Florida and former Bigelow Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School. She serves as adviser to the National Institute of Military Justice, Senior Editor for the Journal of National Security Law and Policy and Legal Co-Director of the Palm Center. In 2010, she published A More Perfect Military: How the Constitution Can Make Our Military Stronger with Oxford University Press. Previously, Professor Mazur served as an aircraft and munitions maintenance officer in the US Air Force.


Kimberly Mutcherson

Kimberly Mutcherson is Vice-Dean and Professor of Law at Rutgers School of Law-Camden. Her scholarly work focuses on issues at the intersection of health law, bioethics, and family law with a particular interest in assisted reproduction and the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. Her writing has appeared in the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy, Harvard Journal of Law & Gender, Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, Nevada Law Journal, Minnesota Law Review Headnotes, and Yale Journal of Law and Feminism. Prior to joining the Rutgers faculty in 2002, she served as a Kirkland & Ellis Fellow at the HIV Law Project (HLP), where she focused on impact litigation and policy work for underrepresented populations. Professor Mutcherson is an associate with the Center for Children and Childhood Studies at Rutgers–Camden and, in 2006-07, was a fellow with the Rutgers Institute for Research on Women/Institute for Women’s Leadership Interdisciplinary Seminar on Health and Bodies. She has also served as a board member for the Women’s Law Project in Philadelphia. She is a faculty advisor for OutLaws, Rutgers’ association for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender law students and the Black Law Students Association. She received the Center for Reproductive Rights Innovation in Scholarship Award in 2013, the Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2011, and the Women’s Law Caucus Faculty Appreciation Award in 2011 & 2014.


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