Angela Duckworth is a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, a popular science author, and in 2013 was named a MacArthur Fellow. Duckworth is best known for her research on grit: a strength she defines as passion and perseverance for long-term goals. Although unrelated to IQ, her work suggests that grit is a common factor among the high-achievers she has studied. Prior to her career in research, Duckworth founded a non-profit summer school for low-income children which won the Better Government Award for the state of Massachusetts and was profiled as a Harvard Kennedy School case study.
She has also been a McKinsey management consultant and, for five years, a math teacher in the U.S. public school system. Duckworth has received numerous awards for her contributions to K-12 education, including a Beyond Z Award from the KIPP Foundation. Her TED talk is among the most-viewed of all time, while Duckworth's book, ‘Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance’ is a #1 New York Times best seller.
Although Duckworth had never taken a psychology class before, she decided to enroll in the University of Pennsylvania’s graduate school for psychology after meeting with some of the program's top researchers in 2002. Sensing her rare abilities (Duckworth already had degrees from Harvard and Oxford) university leaders even waived the application deadlines to get her started that fall semester. For Duckworth, her interest stemmed from spending years working with students in poor urban neighborhoods. She thrived in the program at UPenn. She wrote a paper titled “Self-Discipline Outdoes IQ in Predicting Academic Performance in Adolescents,” which served as her first-year graduate thesis and was published in Psychological Science in 2005. By 2007, she had completed her Doctor of Philosophy degree in psychology as a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania.
After completing her studies, Duckworth decided to join the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania in 2007, accepting a position as an associate professor in the Department of Psychology. While at UPenn, her articles have appeared in such top publications as PNAS, the Journal of Educational Psychology, Psychological Science, and the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. She is also the Rosa Lee and Egbert Chang Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, faculty co-director of the Penn-Wharton Behavior Change For Good initiative, and faculty co-director of Wharton People Analytics. Considered a superstar among the faculty, she continues her groundbreaking research and also commonly accepts requests to be an invited speaker at public events held by her alma mater.