By Andrea Carter and Ethan Baron
April 20, 2015

(Poets&Quants) — Business school professors come in all stripes and colors. But the very best of the lot share a few common qualities: They are all supremely well educated, highly talented researchers, exceptional teachers, and, perhaps most important of all, they inspire students and their students inspire them.

With these qualities in mind, Poets&Quants has compiled its 2015 list of the very best business school professors under 40. Winning an Ig Nobel Prize is not enough to get a spot on this list. Neither is taking students to the Amazon. Or getting a class to show up wearing beer helmets. Or having your research featured on the John Oliver show. Or applying neuroscience to the negotiating process. But all of those things help.

The professors who made it onto this year’s list come with the full package: excellence in research combined with world-class teaching prowess.

Poets&Quants put out an open call for nominations, and readers responded. More than 100 nominations were submitted and we’ve narrowed it down to the top 40. These up-and-comers can be as hilarious as they are brilliant (take UCLA’s Danny Oppenheimer, who is currently winning a bet 5-2 on whether he can manage to sneak the strangest citations through peer-review each year, or New York University’s Deepak Hegde, who claims he hurt himself milking a cow).

Some have racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money to fund their research while others have penned books, spoken before Congress, and won prize after prize after prize. Their expertise runs the gamut, but Poets&Quants’ 40 under 40 professors share the same commitment to producing the next generation of great business leaders.

This year’s top professors shared with us the best and worst parts of being a professor. The pros: tying research to the real world, debating with clever students, those special moments when students grasp a tough concept, and getting to know students on a personal level. As for the least favorite part, well, let’s just say most would be thrilled to forego grading if they could.

And if these top young business professors weren’t business professors? Well, you’d get some marine biologists, some home renovators, a chef, and, according to the Katz School’s Cait Lamberton, one “fairly untalented poet.”

What’s remarkable about this year’s list is not what these professors share—they’re all intelligent, hard-working, and dedicated to their work—but what distinguishes them one from another. Yael Hochberg at the Jones School is a rock climber; Villanova’s Jeremy Kees was a college basketball star. Kellogg’s Lauren Rivera teaches management and operations, but she’s also a trained sommelier who rocks out to ‘80s power ballads but dances to jazz. Guillaume Roels of UCLA bakes his own bread every night, when he isn’t climbing mountains or running marathons. Babson’s Vikki Rodgers is a dedicated conservationist. Panos Patatoukas at Berkeley is a keen cook, has five degrees, takes immense pride in his Greek heritage, and listens to hip hop.

Poets&Quants based this year’s list on indicators like student feedback, awards and honors, quantity and reach of research, public speaking, and educational qualifications.

And after we selected the top 40 Under 40, we sent them questionnaires, so they could open up and tell us, and you, all about their lives and work. They were remarkably forthcoming (a root beer collection, Neil Malhotra, really?), and often surprising (out of compassion, we’re not going to draw undue attention to the professor who absolutely must listen to Britney Spears when she writes).

Here are the top 10 business school professors under 40. Check out the full list at Poets&Quants.


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