Gavin Huntley-Fenner ’90 

Company / School: Huntley-Fenner Advisors

Position / Degree: CEO


  • BA, Cognitive Science, Vassar College
  • PhD, Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Gavin Huntley-Fenner (he/him) is a human factors and safety consultant. He received his PhD in Brain and Cognitive Sciences (MIT 1995). Gavin became a university professor but left academia in 2001 to join management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. For the past 13 years, he and his wife, Beth, have run their own science and engineering consulting firm. They help corporate and law firm clients regarding risk perception and safety of motor vehicles, medical devices, and consumer products. Gavin is regularly sought out as an expert regarding human factors more generally, involving visual and auditory perception and decision-making and risk communication.

Gavin is passionate about public service at the intersection of science and public policy. Today he serves on the steering committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), Committee for Environmental Health Matters, and the NASEM Study Committee regarding Processes to Evaluate the Safety and Efficacy of Drugs for Rare Diseases or Conditions in the US and the EU. He is also a member of the Mattel Medical and Scientific Safety Council. Gavin served as an elected school board member in the City of Irvine, CA in the 2000s. He is an avid distance runner and an erstwhile drummer—among his proudest band moments? Opening for Fugazi in the Villard Room in 1990.

Advice to Students:

  1. Take risks. Most of us engage in risky actions, but few of us take risks mindfully. Don’t let fear of failure or fear of being dissuaded prevent you from assessing opportunities in a clear-minded way.
  2. The kids are alright. Consideration of young children’s perspectives and questions is a great place to embark on lifelong learning.
  3. It helps to reserve your greatest energy for those things that may stress you that are under your control.

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