Assistant Professor of Marketing and Ben L. Fryrear Faculty Fellow
University of Pittsburgh, College of Business Administration
Peggy Liu landed on this year’s list of Best Undergraduate Business School Professors thanks to a very successful and impactful early teaching and research career at the University of Pittsburgh’s College of Business. With about a dozen nominations, Liu, who is an assistant professor of marketing, was one of our more popular professors to make this year’s list. And with nearly 1,000 Google Scholar citations at just 30 years old, she has also built a very robust body of research at a very young age.
Liu has won the Katz Excellence in Research Award the past three years and the Katz Excellence in Teaching Award two of the four years she’s taught at the University of Pittsburgh. “My research focuses on consumer behavior, especially as it relates to consumer welfare and well-being,” Liu says. “In my work on social connections, I have shown how consumers’ consumption decisions and firms’ marketing actions can cause consumers to feel offended. In contrast, I have also shown how consumption can serve as a way to build connections with other people, such as by choosing for others, gift-giving, and shared consumption. In another area of my work focusing on health and food consumption, I have shown the importance of considering both ‘what’ (type) and ‘how much’ (quantity) food to eat as inputs into overall consumer health outcomes.”
We’re thrilled to include Liu on this year’s list of Best Undergraduate Business School Professors.
Current age: 30
At current institution since what year? 2016
Education: Ph.D. in Marketing from Duke University – Fuqua School of Business; B.S. in Psychology from Yale University
List of courses you currently teach: Consumer Behavior
TELL US ABOUT LIFE AS A BUSINESS SCHOOL PROFESSOR
I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I loved attending psychology and business classes in college and really enjoyed working as an undergraduate research assistant in marketing, social psychology, and public health. I thought I would love spending my career combining these research interests and teaching students.
What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it?
My research focuses on consumer behavior, especially as it relates to consumer welfare and well-being. In my work on social connections, I have shown how consumers’ consumption decisions and firms’ marketing actions can cause consumers to feel offended. In contrast, I have also shown how consumption can serve as a way to build connections with other people, such as by choosing for others, gift-giving, and shared consumption. In another area of my work focusing on health and food consumption, I have shown the importance of considering both “what” (type) and “how much” (quantity) food to eat as inputs into overall consumer health outcomes. Finally, my research also uses psychologically-informed approaches to improve public policy, such as placing calorie information to the left instead of the right side of the menu and ordering calorie values from lower to higher values to promote healthier food choices.
If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be… A medical doctor.
What do you think makes you stand out as a professor?
I try really hard to bring research into the classroom. I update what I teach to reflect the latest in the field while also emphasizing studies’ uncertainties and limitations. I also really enjoy mentoring students at the undergraduate and doctoral levels.
One word that describes my first time teaching: Exciting
Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: That you can bring your research into the classroom to improve your students’ learning.
Professor I most admire and why: I very much admire my two marketing Ph.D. co-advisors, Professors Jim Bettman and Gavan Fitzsimons at Duke. They have encouraged me to follow my own research interests and challenged me to think “big” during many research meetings. They have also been very generous with their advice and guidance, both during my Ph.D. and afterward. I still reach out to them regularly for their career advice. I am also very indebted to and admire other mentors that I have had during and since my Ph.D., including Professors Kelly Haws, Jeff Inman, and Cait Lamberton.
TEACHING BUSINESS SCHOOL STUDENTS
What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?
I really enjoy teaching Pitt’s undergraduate business students because they are very bright, eager, and humble. I love that they are open to learning consumer psychology theories and thinking about how to apply them to business and policy problems. My favorite part of teaching them is when we spend time in class working on application projects, which involve applying the theories we’ve learned to real-life problems, often faced by local businesses. The students come up with very interesting applications as well as critiques of different applications.
What is most challenging? Grading
In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Engaged
In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Disengaged
When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Fair
LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
What are your hobbies? Baking, reading, watching TV
How will you spend your summer? Doing research and spending time with family
Favorite place(s) to vacation: Upstate New York in the summer with my family
Favorite book(s): The Harry Potter series
What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much?
The Office – it’s one of my longstanding favorites.
What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why?
Pop music – Ed Sheeran is one of my favorites.
THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS
If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… I think students should be encouraged to think more about testable ways to create wins for businesses, society, and consumers. I also think business schools should teach students to be thoughtful readers of academic work, as there are many interesting ideas that can be applied to improve business and policy practice.
In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… Realizing that many business school students care about working for companies and organizations that also do societal good.
I’m grateful for… the support of my family, especially my mom and dad, whose support has been vital for me to have the time I need to conduct research and teach with a toddler son.
Faculty, students, alumni, and/or administrators say:
“Professor Liu has an enthusiasm for learning and a passion for helping students that is apparent from the moment you meet her. Her strong character and wonderful personality are unwavering, which made my experience as her student exceptional. Despite the unusual circumstances of this semester, Professor Liu never missed a beat. She handled the transition from in-person learning to virtual learning very gracefully, ensuring students still gained immense value from her course. She was understanding, kindhearted, and dedicated, as each student adapted to the “new normal.” Furthermore, Professor Liu’s dedication to her students does not stop when she is done teaching for the day. I felt the impact of this personally, when I asked her if she could share an internship opportunity with our class. She readily and excitedly shared the internship, despite the hectic circumstances of the spring semester, confirming her unshakable devotion to what she does.”
“As a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh, I had the opportunity to enroll in classes with amazing professors who I have learned a lot from. I enrolled with little background information on my Professor, Peggy Liu, for Consumer Behavior. I was pleasantly surprised with the class and found that Professor Liu became one of my favorite professors. She was always very attentive to students, ensuring any questions we had, she could answer. Professor Liu honestly went above and beyond with every slideshow, as she would always provide multiple examples in defining the terms she was talking about, so that we could mentally and visually process the information. She also encouraged groupwork which was extremely beneficial to our development. Whenever we needed her, she was available both in person and outside class. For these reasons, I believe that Professor Peggy Liu would be a great addition to P+Q’s Best Professor List.”
“Since joining the University of Pittsburgh in 2016, Professor Peggy Liu has distinguished herself has an impactful thought-leader in the fields of marketing and consumer behavior. Only earning her doctoral degree two years ago from Duke University, Peggy has quickly climbed the ranks in top journals in business, psychology, and management. She has published 26 journal articles and is among the most prolific and well-cited assistant business professors in the world. She is the recipient of the Excellence in Research and the Excellence in Teaching Awards at Pitt Business, and the Association for Consumer Research-Sheth Foundation Dissertation Award. Within the business school, we have not witnessed such rapid and prolific progress from any faculty member in his or her first three years. Peggy’s research productivity is simply in a class of its own. Peggy is frequently referred to as a “rock star” or “superstar” by her colleagues and peers. She is an equally gifted teacher and a solid citizen in terms of service. In short, I cannot think of a more deserving candidate for the P+Q 2020 Top Undergrad Professors list.”
Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.