2023 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professors: Szu-Han (Joanna) Lin, Terry College of Business, University of Georgia

Congrats to Szu-Han (Joanna) Lin of the Terry College of Business, University of Georgia for being named a 2023 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professor.


Szu-Han (Joanna) Lin

Terry College of Business, University of Georgia

Joanna has been my favorite professor at UGA. She would teach challenging content but always made it interesting which is something most professors do not take the time to do. She has shown great intentionality and passion in not only teaching but also continually developing the management field with research. Her determination to help students understand while also trying to better understand the scope of management as a whole is remarkable and deserves to be awarded. If I had the opportunity to take another class with Professor Lin, I would take it in a heartbeat.”Morgan Pope

Szu-Han (Joanna) Lin, 35,  is an associate professor at Terry College of Business, University of Georgia. 

She is a prolific academic with 20 published articles in refereed journals and three high-impact book chapters. Among her publications, 13 are featured in top-tier journals, with nine of those appearing within just five years after she graduated from Michigan State University. 

She has received the Institute for Leadership Advancement Research Scholar Award and Junior Faculty Seed Grant in STEM at the University of Georgia. Additionally, she was honored with the Isenberg Outstanding Researcher Award at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She now serves as an editorial board member at Journal of Applied Psychology and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.


At current institution since what year? 2020


  • Michigan State University, Eli Broad College of Business, Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • University of Florida, Hough Graduate School of Management, Master of Arts in International Business
  • National Chengchi University, Bachelor of Arts in Public Finance, College of Social Sciences, Bachelor of Science in Accounting, College of Commerce


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… Given that my mom is a teacher, I always have had a passion for teaching, though I was uncertain about the specific field I wanted to pursue. As a graduate student at the University of Florida, I was fortunate to meet David Long, Le Zhou, and Mo Wang. They included me in their research projects, which I found immediately fascinating and interesting. Their openness to help me in applying for a PhD program are experiences I will always cherish.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? My research has been focused on leadership and motivation. My first stream of research is to understand how different leader behaviors influence leaders and followers. For example, my coauthors and I are working on understanding the costs and benefits faced by women leaders when engaging in different types of leader behaviors. My second stream of research is to understand voice behavior. For example, my coauthors and I are trying to understand how followers respond and react when leaders endorse their coworkers’ voice and suggestions. 

If I weren’t a business school professor… I will probably be an accountant as I always love numbers!

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? A recurring theme in my teaching evaluations is enthusiasm. I consistently bring positive energy to the classroom, striving to ensure that students enjoy the course. Also, I truly enjoy discussing with students about their work experience. As someone who has spent considerable time in the academic world, I greatly appreciate hearing about students’ real-life work experiences. I believe that through these exchanges, we learn from one another! 

One word that describes my first time teaching: Nervous

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor:  Being a young woman who has a strong accent is undoubtedly a challenge in the MBA classroom, especially since many students are much older than I am. However, I truly appreciate the students here at Terry College of Business for their open-mindedness and learning orientation. They are eager to learn the research findings on topics of interest and are willing to explore and even apply those insights to their own work.

Professor I most admire and why: There are lots of professors that I admire. 

First, I truly admire my dissertation chair, Russ Johnson, for his unbiased perspective on people. When I initially joined the Ph.D. program, my English skills were lacking, and my research abilities were limited. I am grateful that he was willing to work with me and guide me through the process. His support has inspired me to do the same for my future students.

Second, Fadel Matta is someone I deeply respect. He represents my ideal self, as he is incredibly intelligent and possesses not only strong research skills but also exceptional emotional intelligence and “people skills.”

I also admire Joel Koopman for his impressive publication record and his strong dedication to helping others. In the academic world, lots of people could be successful but what sets Joel apart is his willingness to share his insights and tips with others, which I find truly commendable.  

Finally, Adam Grant is someone I deeply admire. Though I was never his student, I have always been inspired by his work. He is not only a top-notch researcher but also an influential figure in the real world, making a significant impact beyond academia.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? I particularly enjoy the discussions we have in class. I love when students share the work challenges they are currently facing or have faced in the past.

What is most challenging? The most challenging part is addressing conflicts within teams and helping students work through their struggles.

In a word, describe your favorite type of student: proactive

In a word, describe your least favorite type of student: disengagement

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


What are your hobbies? Traveling

How will you spend your summer? I will travel back to Taiwan and give two research talks. I hope to help students in Taiwan develop their research skills. Additionally, I plan to work closely with my PhD students, Emily Poulton and Justin Woodall, on various research projects.

Favorite place(s) to vacation:  Puerto Rico, Italy

Favorite book(s): 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? I really enjoy Grey’s Anatomy, particularly the episodes where they encounter a rare illness and must diagnose and treat it. This process sometimes reminds me of conducting research: identifying questions and finding solutions!

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? I rarely listen to music, possibly because I have two young children who always want to listen to Cocomelon! However, I do love Taiwanese singers such as Mayday, Fish Liang, and Jay Chou.


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… I hope students can adopt a greater learning orientation rather than a performance-proof orientation. Many students care more about grades than the learning process. However, I sincerely hope students can “learn” something in class and apply it to their work!

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… Expressing gratitude and appreciation for employees’ work.

I’m grateful for…  I am truly grateful for my time at Michigan State University, especially my dissertation chair, Russ Johnson, and two other senior students at that time, Joel Koopman and Fadel Matta. Their mentorship and training during my Ph.D. program and beyond have been invaluable, and I am forever thankful. In addition, I am incredibly fortunate to have had the best first Ph.D. student, Emily Poulton. I am truly appreciative of her decision to move from the University of Massachusetts to the University of Georgia with me. I am also thankful for the supportive colleagues I have. Last but not least, my family has been my rock, and I deeply value their constant support in my life.



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