Yan Chen is a professor in the School of Information and coordinator of the Incentive-Centered Design specialization of the Master of Science in Information program. She is director of the STIET program. She also holds an appointment as research professor with the U-M Institute for Social Research. In addition, she is associate director of the Smith Experimental Economics Research Center at Shanghai Jiaotong University.
Before coming to the School of Information, she was on the faculty of the U-M Department of Economics.
Her research interests are in information economics, including experimental economics, mechanism design, voting theory, and public finance.
The fundamental challenge her research addresses is the design of robust economic mechanisms when agents are not perfectly rational. Mechanism design theory assumes people are perfectly rational and can reach an equilibrium instantly in an economic situation. Chen's research looks at questions of how people really learn in such situations, what types of mechanisms aid that learning, and whether such learning can eventually lead to the states of "equilibrium" predicted by theory. She conducts both theoretical and experimental research, bringing human subjects into the laboratory to work with economic games.