RJ Niewoehner

My Story: Jesus once said, "Whoever acknowledges me before others ... I also will acknowledge before God who is in heaven." (Matthew 10:32) I hope you see that my faith makes in difference in the way I treat people, both in and out of the classroom. I grew up in a great house with two loving parents and three younger brothers (no sisters). I always felt older than my age, and that responsibility drove me to work hard through my younger years, though I also did plenty of slacking off. Our family practiced our faith: we went to church regularly, and many of my friends growing up were other church kids. But it wasn't until I was in middle school that I started to make my faith, my own - before then, it was just my parents' faith that I was piggy-backing on. What I didn't know at that time was that following Jesus would *not* mean that my life would be easier. In fact, some things were probably more difficult. For example, when I collapsed from over-hydration 80% of the way through my first marathon, there was disappointment, no doubt - but I also I felt that God had let me down. When my first-choice graduate school decided not to admit me, I was heartbroken, and again - I felt that God had let me down. When I practically failed the qualifying exam at the end of the first year of my PhD program, yet again, I thought that God had moved me across the country only for me to fail spectacularly and get kicked out of the PhD program. The difficulties of these experiences were actually amplified by my faith - if I believe in a God who was kind and loved me, why would he let so many things (which I had no control over) not go my way? It certainly didn't feel like I was loved at those times. And yet, feelings can cloud our perception of what is real. Through the marathon experience, Jesus was teaching me to persevere: One year later I went back and finished that race - running alongside my younger brother and with my wife-to-be cheering me on from the sideline. In choosing my second choice business school for my MBA, I ended up in ... San Diego, perhaps the greatest city in the world! I now know I probably would not have pursued a PhD if I hadn't ended up at UCSD. And one year after almost getting kicked out of the PhD program, I received an award for research progress as a 3rd-year student - something our department had *never* done before (that award always went to 5th-year students)! Through my academic failures, Jesus was teaching me to be humble, while also affirming that I would make a great researcher someday. At the end of the day, I have learned that - in all things - Jesus is faithful. And because he is faithful, he is worth following, whatever comes our way. If it's good things? That's great - he has created a wonderful world for us to enjoy. And if it's trials or difficulties? Well then, at least I know I've got somebody watching my back. I wish that everyone could have the same sense of hope and optimism I have when I look at life. Hope that this world is not all there is ... that is a hope that can help someone conquer any mountain they face. Hope finds its source in the knowledge that life is worth living because Jesus lived perfectly for us. Thanks for listening to my story.

My Life

Favorite Quote

"You all are my batch. And once you are my batch, you are my batch - forever." - Hyoduk Shin

Friends describe me

Introverted, but friendly, and comfortable in a crowd

My hobbies

Snow skiing, CrossFit, dog training, and listening to podcasts on x1.8 speed (or x2.0 if I'm feeling frisky)

Fantasy dinner guests

Steph Curry, Zach Lowe, Peter Attia, Hugh Jackman, Stephen Dubner (of Freakonomics)

Best advice I ever received

An upperclassman at UNC told me I should come to UNC and work with Brad Staats (the world's greatest advisor)

My undergrad alma mater

Virginia Tech... Go Hokies!

My worst subject in school

I had a hard time with history growing up... I know it is more than dates and names, but sometimes that's all it felt like I was studying.

In college I drove

A black Nissan Xterra ... it still runs today!

If I weren't a professor, I would

Be a data scientist ... or work for ski patrol (if money was no issue)

Favorite books

Books are out, and podcasts are in. My favorite podcast is "Freakonomics Radio" ... closely followed by "#Greeny" for all-around sportstalk. For the basketball nerds, it is hard to beat "The Hoop Collective" ... and another good one is also "Plain English" with Derek T. at the Atlantic.

Favorite movies

Top Gun (both iterations, but the more recent one is amazing), Marvel's Endgame, Lord of the Rings, Book of Eli ... and most anything else with Tom Cruise.

Favorite city

San Diego, CA and Seattle, WA

Favorite coffee

Whatever is hot and available ... or better yet: hot and bottomless.

Nobody knows I

Am colorblind... or more accurately, color deficient. I have a hard time distinguishing between blue and purple.

My latest accomplishment

My second project was accepted for research publication!

Current Research

My research seeks to understand how human behavior and someone's working environment interact to affect their productivity. I primarily use empirical (or data-driven) methods to study people-centric problems in operations. Operations considers many facets of work, and my research empowers researchers to answer questions like "What work should we do?" and "Who should be doing that work?"