Duke TIP

Dr. Jonathan Wai

Dr. Jonathan Wai
Research Scientist
Author, Psychology Today: Finding the Next Einstein

Research Description

Jonathan Wai researches and writes about the development of talent, broadly conceived, and its impact on society. His interests focus on the role of cognitive abilities, education, and other factors that contribute to the development of expertise in education, occupation, and innovation. Additionally, he is interested in policy implications of developing (or failing to develop) talent, and connecting his work with the larger global conversation.
Dr. Wai’s work has started international conversations, and has been covered in Science, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, CNBC, Financial Times, The Economist, Scientific American, Wired, Education Week, and newspapers all over the world. In addition to academic publications, his public writing has appeared in Psychology Today, Los Angeles Times, Forbes, Education Week, and many others. He is a contributing writer to Psychology Today, Business Insider, Quartz, and others, where his ideas have reached millions of people.

His work has won multiple international Mensa Awards For Research Excellence. He currently serves on the board of directors of the MATHCOUNTS foundation.


Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Duke University
PhD and Master of Science, Psychology, Vanderbilt University
Master of Arts, Cognitive Psychology and Evaluation, Claremont Graduate University
Bachelor of Arts, Psychology and Mathematics, Claremont McKenna College

Selected Publications

Wai, J. October, 2012: Don’t believe the myth of the billionaire college dropout. Business Insider

Wai, J. (September, 2012). The scary smart are the scary rich. Forbes.

Wai, J. (July/August, 2012). Of brainiacs and billionaires. Psychology Today. Pages 78-85, 92.

Wai, J. (July, 2012). The SAT needs to be harder. Education Week.

Wai, J., & Putallaz, M. (in press). The Flynn effect puzzle: A 30-year examination from the right tail of the ability distribution provides some missing pieces. Intelligence. PDF

Wai, J., Cacchio, M., Putallaz, M., & Makel, M. C. (2010). Sex differences in the right tail of cognitive abilities: A 30-year examination. Intelligence, 38, 412-423. PDF

Wai, J., Lubinski, D., Benbow, C. P., & Steiger, J. H. (2010). Accomplishment in science technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and its relation to STEM educational dose: A 25-year longitudinal study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102, 860-871. PDF

Wai, J., Lubinski, D., & Benbow, C. P. (2009). Spatial ability for STEM domains: Aligning over fifty years of cumulative psychological knowledge solidifies its importance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101, 817-835. PDF

Halpern, D. F., & Wai, J. (2007). The world of competitive Scrabble: Novice and expert differences in visuospatial and verbal abilities. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 13, 79-94. PDF

Wai, J., Lubinski, D., & Benbow, C. P. (2005). Creativity and occupational accomplishments among intellectually precocious youths: An age 13 to age 33 longitudinal study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97, 484-492. PDF

Dr. Wai’s Curriculum Vitae 170.84 KB