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Anatomy of a Great Professor: Meet Jackson Lu

Jackson (Guannan) Lu, Assistant Professor of Work and Organization Studies at MIT Sloan, just made one of the most enviable honor rolls in academia—Poets & Quants “Best 40 under 40 Professors.” At 29, he is one of the youngest to make the list.

Jackson Lu

Lu’s research focuses on the upsides and downsides of globalization for individuals, groups, and organizations. One of his projects focuses on astrological stereotypes and discrimination in China, where western astrological signs have become increasingly popular because of globalization. Virgos, for example, are now often discriminated against in job recruitment—and in dating—because they are stereotyped as having disagreeable personalities. Although Lu’s extensive data gathering has made clear that astrological signs do not predict personality, he is concerned that astrological stereotyping will become accurate over time through self-fulfilling prophecies.

Lu, who teaches Power and Negotiation at MIT Sloan, tells Poets & Quants that he resolved to become “not only an intellectual scholar but also someone who helps inform policies and practices in the real world.” Among his many nominators, a colleague noted that Lu “puts in great effort to ensure that the lectures are not only engaging and fun but evidence-based and practical. He is very receptive to student feedback and the efforts he puts toward the quality of his lectures show how much he cares about students’ experiences in the classroom.”

In its citation, Poets & Quants makes the point that youth, in Lu’s case, is not to be equated with inexperience: “Don’t let the age fool you. Lu has already been published in premier scientific journals such as Nature: Human Behaviour, Proceedings of National Academy of Science, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and has earned top marks in student reviews in the classes he has taught since earning his Ph.D. in Management from Columbia Business School. His research has been covered in publications like Wired, Pacific Standard, Forbes, and Quartz, among others.”

One of his nominators underlined the point. “Jackson is simply a superstar. He has published as much as anyone at this career stage and nearly all of his articles are big, impactful ideas. He also knocked it out of the park on his first try at teaching, getting 4.9/5 evaluations for both sections. He is a perfectionist and is committed to excellence in all that he does.”

When asked what he enjoys most about teaching MBAs, Lu quipped, “My students are smarter, cooler, and funnier than me.” Clearly, many of his students would take exception.

Read more about Jackson Lu’s research.

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