The Wisconsin School of Business welcomes Xiaoyang Long, an assistant professor in the Department of Operations and Information Management. Originally from Guangzhou, China, Long received an A.B. in physics with a certificate (minor) in applied and computational mathematics from Princeton University in 2012. She completed her Ph.D. in operations management from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2017. Assistant Professor Long shares her thoughts on joining the WSB and University of Wisconsin–Madison community below.
WSB: How did you get into your field of research?
Long: In my undergraduate years, I spent a summer working for Professor Warren Powell in the operations research department at Princeton. My project was developing a dynamic pricing algorithm for electrical charging stations in New York City. It was the first time I realized that I could take the mathematical tools that I learned as a physics major and apply them to solve business problems in the real world. This experience set me on the path of becoming a researcher in OM—it is a perfect blend of scientific rigor, creativity, and real-world applicability. Along the way, I started to realize that human decision-makers—a key component in any business situation—often do not act rationally. Then the key questions are: what is the effect of people’s behavioral biases in operational contexts, and what are the best strategies to help them make better decisions? I try to answer these questions in my current research.
WSB: What do you hope to contribute to the Wisconsin School of Business?
Long: The Wisconsin School of Business is a very vibrant place, and I hope to add to the intellectual environment by sharing my ideas and discoveries with others. I also hope to develop strong relationships with my students.
WSB: What attracted you to UW–Madison?
Long: The people. My colleagues are all really nice and easy to talk to. They are also doing great research in very important operations management areas such as health care and supply chain management. I also love that the university has so many excellent departments and programs in different areas—for example, in my spare time I can attend music recitals and seminars hosted by the music school.
WSB: What was your first visit to campus like?
Long: There was a lot of snow! I was here for interviews in February, and—having lived in Hong Kong for the past five years—it was definitely a scenery change.
WSB: Favorite place on campus?
Long: Memorial Terrace.
WSB: What are you most enjoying so far about working here?
Long: I love living downtown and being so close to Grainger Hall as well as everything else. It is a very convenient city to live and work in.
WSB: Do you feel your work relates in any way to the Wisconsin Idea? If so, please describe how.
Long: Yes. My goal in research is to not only develop a fuller understanding of human biases in different operational settings, but also devise strategies that help decision-makers (e.g., managers, consumers, policy makers) counter these biases and make better decisions. Behavioral economics has successfully influenced government policy for years. I believe there is a lot of potential in applying what we know about human behavior to help improve the efficiency and sustainability of businesses.
WSB: What’s something interesting about your area of expertise you can share that will make us sound smarter at parties?
Long: People often have time-inconsistent preferences. This means that if you plan to study for that big exam rather than watch a movie on Friday night, there is a chance that come Friday, you’ll end up watching the movie anyway. Know your inconsistencies and watch out for them!
WSB: Do you have favorite hobbies or other interests?
Long: Scuba diving (I dived a lot when I lived in Hong Kong and could travel easily to Southeast Asia), reading, and playing the piano.