2020 Top 40 Teachers Under 40: Ye Li, School: University of California-Riverside, Anderson Graduate School of Management

Ye Li of the University of California-Riverside is a Poets&Quants Best 40 Under 40 MBA Professor

From the massive amount of Google Scholar citations to nearly 100 nominations, Ye Li has wowed us as much as he has students who have had the chance to see him in action in a classroom. The 36-year-old assistant professor of management at the Anderson Graduate School of Management at the University of California-Riverside has already built a research base with more than 2,000 Google Scholar citations. In her research, Li examines why people make decisions. But some of his most influential research and work examines the role emotions play in decision-making. An example of his work is how sadness makes people less patient and gratitude makes them more patient.

But what impressed us more than his mountains of research were the feedback from current and former students, especially about how sincerely and truly he cares for those he teaches. “Professor Li truly cares about his students beyond the classroom and encourages us to improve both academically and professionally by teaching us behaviors that would enable us to think rationally and systematically about various consumer or professional related situations,” one proposer said. “He is interested in the success of each student and has encouraged me as a student and a professional!

Another said: “He is a dedicated teacher who devotes a tremendous amount of time to ensuring his students succeed. He really cares about the content he teaches and he is passionate about passing it on to his students. »

But Li also fosters an environment conducive to learning, other nominators said.

“Professor Li’s teaching style encourages class participation, which allows for warm discussion and creates an engaging class atmosphere,” another proponent said. “It also makes it easier to understand class concepts. Its missions are effective and emphasize understanding by asking us to apply concrete examples to classroom concepts. »

Outside of the classroom, Li says he enjoys playing strategic board games.

Ye Li

Assistant Professor of Management

University of California-Riverside, A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management

Current age: 36

At the current establishment since what year? 2012

Education: BS, California Institute of Technology, Business Economics / Engineering and Applied Science (Double Major), MBA, Ph.D., University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Behavioral Science

List of MBA courses you currently teach: Managerial Decision Making (MBA), Judgment and Decision Making (Undergraduate), Organizational Behavior (Ph.D.)


I knew I wanted to be a business school teacher when… I fell in love with behavioral economics as an undergraduate research assistant for Colin Camerer. I had planned to get a doctorate in economics. study behavioral economics, but it turned out that my interests aligned better with business schools and I ended up following in Colin’s footsteps in the same program at the University of Chicago where he got his Ph.D.

What is your current research and what is the most important discovery you have made from it?

Broadly speaking, I study the reasons why people make various types of decisions, especially those involving trade-offs between sooner and later consequences. Some of my most influential work has focused on the role of emotions and cognitive ability in influencing these types of decisions. For example, sadness makes people less patient while gratitude (but not happiness) makes them more patient.

If I wasn’t a business school teacher… I would like to try designing a board game or carpentry. Something with a tangible output!

What do you think sets you apart as a teacher?

Rather than what I think, I looked at my most recent teaching evaluations. Students seem to appreciate my focus on their success in the classroom and in life (and learning the names of all 150 students in the first two weeks of each term I teach). It really helps that I can teach a subject that I am passionate about and think everyone should learn!

One word that describes my first teaching: Improveable.

I’m always looking to improve my teaching and keep the examples up to date, so if I let myself go, tinkering with my lessons can easily eat up all my time. Of course, the first few times I taught the course, it really took a lot of adjusting to accommodate our diverse and unique student body. UCR leads all major American universities in students with Pell scholarships and more than half of the students are first-generation students, so I consider my efforts to resonate with them in class time well. spent.

Here’s what I wish someone had told me about being a professor at a business school: Don’t tell students you don’t have real work experience! (Oh wait, they might read that too…)

Professor whom I admire the most and why: Too much, for many reasons. An abbreviated list: Daniel Kahneman, Amos Tversky, and Richard Thaler for laying the groundwork for the area of ​​research I love. My mentors at UChicago, George Wu, Reid Hastie and Nicholas Epley. My post-doctoral mentors at Columbia, Eric Johnson and Elke Weber. And so many amazing past winners on this list that I am deeply honored to join.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?

My favorite moments are when students report using classroom concepts in their life and work…I think even the best students will quickly forget most of the content of most courses once they graduate, so I I especially love hearing from former students years later about the impact I’ve had.

What is the most difficult?

Try to get students to learn the concepts well enough that they can retain them and use them in their future jobs and lives. That’s why I put so much emphasis on applying the concepts. Use it or lose it!

In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Curious (I tried to find a synonym for curious intellectual)

In a nutshell, describe the type of student you like the least: Disengaged

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Strict but fair. I provide a paragraph of individualized feedback on each written assignment and send individualized midterm and pre-final progress reports so students know exactly where they are at.


What are your hobbies?

Strategy board games! To steal a line from a colleague, when I’m not studying decision making, I like to take them in games.

How are you going to spend your summer?

Do some research and hopefully back to my office! All my summer academic conferences are already canceled so… =(

Favorite place(s) for your vacation: I’m the travel guide type and tend to pack my vacation with sightseeing and not just lying on a beach. My favorite destinations have lots of history, sights to see, and (of course) great food to eat. Some more exotic locations include Egypt, Cambodia, Laos, and Brazil.

Favorite books):

Fiction: The Heart Catcher

Nonfiction: Decisive, Nudge, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

What is your current favorite movie and/or show and why do you like the movie or show the most?

Black mirror. I’m a big fan of sci-fi in general, because it allows us to think about how people might behave in situations that humans haven’t encountered, while allowing us to think about what it says about our world today. Black Mirror does a fantastic job of bringing it into a future that seems very close at hand.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why?

I was a huge Indie Rock fan in school, but these days I mostly listen to podcasts and audiobooks while driving and exercising and classical/instrumental music while working. The Game of Thrones soundtrack is surprisingly good at writing music.


If it were up to me, the business school of the future would have a lot more… Classes in person! Online classes have their place but the discussions just aren’t the same on Zoom. I really hope we get back to normal soon (once it’s safe to do so, of course)!

In my opinion, businesses and organizations today need to do a better job at… Considering the long-term implications of their decisions, not only for themselves but for humanity and our planet. Incentives too often seem focused on short-term maximization.

I am grateful for… COVID-19 is happening in the internet age. I can’t imagine how bad shelter in place was during the Spanish flu.

Faculty, students, alumni and/or administrators say:

“He is a diligent and selfless teacher who gives students endless resources and additional guidance to help us excel. At each lecture, he provides very detailed research and data he has conducted to support each topic. »

“Professor Li has easily been among the best teachers I have had the opportunity to study with throughout my college career. He is dedicated, organized and passionate about his classes and his students. It would be an honor for me to support his nomination among the 40 teachers under 40.

“Li is the most memorable, engaging, involved, interested and passionate professor of my entire undergraduate career. Professor Li really showed that he cares about his students, not just as a grade or review grade, but as individuals. He gave us comments that were not a general copy-paste but addressed to each of the students. I really enjoyed his lectures and classes on judgment and decision making.


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