Wai is a research scientist at the Duke University Talent Identification Program, a visiting researcher at Case Western Reserve University Department of Psychology, and a faculty affiliate of the Berger Institute at Claremont McKenna College. He did his postdoctoral work at Duke University, holds a doctorate from Vanderbilt University, and graduated from Claremont McKenna College.
He studies how individual and contextual factors collectively impact the development of achievement and expertise across a variety of domains. He’s used historical, longitudinal, and experimental approaches to examine the multiple factors that contribute and take away from human capital development and how that’s connected to policies and conversations on enhancing creativity and innovation.
One stream of research focuses on the role of education, from K-12 through college and graduate school. Another stream focuses on the role of abilities, skills, and other factors on educational, occupational, and creative achievement and leadership attainment. Much of his work is related to STEM education and achievement. He is also interested in which educational interventions are most effective and how various factors can impact learning.
Wai’s research is complimented by his work in science communication, practice, and policy, including education policy. Some work in this area has focused on helping disadvantaged and neglected students in the current school system, such as those from low income backgrounds and in need of spatial skill identification and educational development.
His academic work has appeared in Journal of Educational Psychology, Current Directions in Psychological Science, Policy Insights From The Behavioral And Brain Sciences, Intelligence, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, Journal of Advanced Academics, Gifted Child Quarterly, and Frontiers in Psychology: Developmental.
His work has started international conversations, and has been discussed in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, CNBC, Financial Times, The Economist, Scientific American, Wired, Education Week, Nature, Science, and many others worldwide.
His public writing has appeared in Psychology Today, Los Angeles Times, Forbes, National Review, Education Week, NPR, Quartz, Business Insider, TechCrunch, The World Economic Forum, and others where his ideas have reached millions. His articles have been recognized as “best ideas” by The Aspen Institute and the American Enterprise Institute and “best of the year” by The World Economic Forum and have been cited by The New York Times and The Washington Post.
His academic papers have won multiple international Mensa Awards for Research Excellence and he has served on the board of directors of the MATHCOUNTS Foundation. He lives with his wife, kids, and cat. You can find his CV here (email).