New Faculty: Professor Wendy Liu Joins Rady from UCLA

Wendy Liu

Wendy Liu joined the Rady School of Management in July as an assistant professor after holding the same title at UCLA Anderson School of Management. Her research is in the area of consumer behavior. Dr. Liu is interested in understanding the determinants of consumers’ perceptions and decisions. She also studies the role of life experiences and social events in shaping consumers’ preferences and economic behavior.

Dr. Liu’s research has been published in leading marketing and management journals such as the Journal of Consumer Research and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. Her work has also been featured in the national media. Below is a Q&A with Professor Liu.

What motivated you to become a professor?

After my B.A. in economics, I worked in consulting. I had been a research assistant to professors in economics as an undergrad and really enjoyed the research environment. I was leaning toward consulting or business research as a career. But I was not sure if I wanted to become a researcher for life and therefore decided to work in the industry first. This was a good decision because over time I saw that although I enjoyed working on solving imminent problems for client companies, I was also generally more interested in thinking about the science behind economic and social issues. This prompted me to consider becoming a researcher in an academic setting.

Why did you choose marketing?

Marketing came to me naturally through the confluence of two types of experiences. While I was doing consulting, most of my projects were marketing-oriented. The interesting thing about marketing compared to other fields is that it is the one area in the business organization that is customer-driven. It was fun to research customers and think about strategies to expand one’s markets or be more profitable with existing customers. A second factor is that after learning about research in marketing, I realized it is a great fit for my scientific intellectual bent. The idea of studying people and their behavior in the marketplace in terms of human cognition and motivation really appealed to me. So I chose marketing and behavioral science in particular, as my area of specialty.

How does your research and teaching contribute to the Rady School’s mission of educating leaders for innovation-driven organizations?

I feel that Rady is such a special place because there is such focus on science (not just natural science, but also social science) and innovation here. My research in consumer psychology is often about uncovering new insights about people’s behavior in innovative domains, such as social-cause marketing, social networks and the pursuit of wealth and happiness through consumption. I feel that I can bring a valuable perspective by looking at these domains with a fundamental understanding of the cognitive and affective underpinnings of people’s behavior and by teaching the methodologies that can be used to study these types of questions.

What type of experience can students expect to have in your classes?

My classes tend to be thought-provoking and interactive. I would like my students to come to class with a curiosity to learn and to be engaged in the thought process of the class. Another important aspect of the class is for students to learn from one another’s experiences and perspectives, so I will try to foster that as well.

To learn more about Professor Liu or other Rady faculty, visit our faculty directory.