2022 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professors: Nur Sunar, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Nur Sunar

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

“She made a lasting impact on our class by teaching core Operations in a way that was understandable, relatable, and actionable. Her relentless optimism left no student behind, and she broke down case studies to ensue future leaders understand how to improve processes in ways that benefit all stakeholders. Through her dedicated research Nur also helps the business world understand what’s possible in sustainability, and how these creative practices can benefit both shareholders and society. Nur’s passion for teaching and research reflect great credit upon herself and the UNC community.” – Taylor Tally

Nur Sunar, 36, is Associate Professor of Operations at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.

She studies innovative business models, policies, and technologies and their impacts on sustainability and inclusion. A key theme of her current research is doing good with management science. She is particularly interested in renewable energy technologies (such as rooftop solar panels), sustainability practices of companies/organizations (such as voluntary carbon offsetting) and smart city technologies (such as the Internet of Things, smart meters and residential batteries).

She collaborates with a variety of companies for research, using machine learning, data-driven optimization, stochastic analysis, game theory and econometrics, among other methods. Her research has been published in journals such as Management Science, M&SOM and Operations Research. She co-chaired international conferences and tracks, such as MSOM Sustainable Operations SIG Conference and INFORMS MSOM Sustainable Operations SIG Track. Her research as been awarded the People’s Choice Award in the Early-Career Sustainable OM Workshop in 2019 and the INFORMS Data Mining Best Paper Award in 2020. She also received multiple meritorious service awards from Management Science and M&SOM. She is a senior editor of the Production and Operations Management journal. 


At current institution since what year? 2013


  • Ph.D. in Business Administration from Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford University
  • Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Bogazici University

List of MBA courses you currently teach:  Operations. This is the core operations management course for the first-year MBA students.


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I grew up in a family of MDs. When I was a kid, my parents used to share inspiring stories about their professors at the medical school. No surprise that I wanted to be a professor since elementary school!  During undergrad, I was fascinated by business research: the opportunity to make an impact, improve processes, organizations and the world deeply intrigued me. At that time, I knew that business school was my path. I fell in love with MBA teaching during my PhD studies. So, deciding to be a business school professor was not a hard decision at that point. 

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? My current research (which is a joint work with my co-author) evaluates the potential of telemedicine for inclusive care. Specifically, it aims to understand if telemedicine can be a remedy for socioeconomic health disparities. This is a pressing policy question because of two reasons. First, U.S. policymakers are currently on the verge of deciding if they should keep telemedicine as a feasible healthcare delivery channel for a considerable portion of the population. Second, the main priority of any public health policy is to reduce health disparities. Our research reveals that contrary to the common belief, introducing telemedicine can exacerbate health disparities between low-income and high-income patients for certain population structures. We find that interestingly, this conclusion is valid even in the absence of any telemedicine access disparities (e.g., technology access disparities or language barriers).

If I weren’t a business school professor… I would probably work as a management consultant for a while and then start my own company.

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? My passion for and dedication to research, teaching and the well-being of our students. 

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:  It takes substantial effort, but the job is a million times more fun than it seems!

Professor I most admire and why: There are many great senior professors in business schools. Thus, it is hard to give one name. I am grateful for being a part of such a wonderful community and I appreciate the opportunity to interact with all the exceptional scholars.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?  Our students are brilliant; they come from very diverse backgrounds and they bring with them a variety of wonderful experiences. My favorite part of teaching business students is the opportunity to interact with them and learn about their unique experiences and perspectives. 

What is most challenging?  Grading

In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Curious 

In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: The one who never questions anything, i.e., indifferent

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Fair


What are your hobbies? I generally have little time for hobbies. But, when I find time, I try to enjoy outdoors, check new music releases and learn about new cultures/languages.

How will you spend your summer? Doing research

Favorite place(s) to vacation: London and anywhere with a good beach and nice weather

Favorite book(s):  My favorite business book is “The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement.”

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? I have so many candidates for this. As of now, my all-time favorite movie is “Inception.”  I enjoyed it very much for three reasons. First, the movie was about a unique concept and hence the scenario was unpredictable. Second, the movie was full of intricate details, which gently challenged the audience. Third, it powerfully conveyed the emotions with the help of its exceptional soundtrack. I have similar feelings for the movie “Interstellar.”

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? I got stunned by the power of music while I was learning how to play piano in my early childhood. Since then, music has been an essential part of my life. I love all genres of music (e.g., classical, pop, rock, jazz). For the last few years, I have a slight preference for pop music, as it cheers me up and boosts my energy.  


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… Customization and interdisciplinary learning/collaboration

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… Evaluating the environmental and social impacts of their business models and policies

I’m grateful for… Everything: family, health, career and friends


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.