Lauren Lanahan's research primarily focuses on public economics as it relates to innovation and entrepreneurship. With a passion for evidence-based analysis, her work investigates the role of public institutions in understanding the evolving, multifaceted R&D enterprise. Her initial interest in this line of research began prior to her graduate academic career while working at the National Science Foundation. Working in NSF’s Social, Behavioral & Economics Directorate gave her a distinct insight into the process by which academia governs and evaluates itself. Through this experience, she became interested in research questions that extend beyond R&D within higher education toward questioning what institutions and reward structures are most efficient at producing new scientific knowledge and consequent economic growth.