07 Jan 2022

New Faculty Profiles: Martin Wattenberg


HBS faculty comprises more than 300 scholars and practitioners who bring leading-edge research, extensive experience, and deep insights into the classroom, to organizations, and to managers. We asked new faculty at HBS about their background, their new roles, and their interests.

Martin Wattenberg, Harvard University professor

What is your educational background?
My degrees are all in mathematics: BA from Brown, MS from Stanford, and PhD from Berkeley.

What’s your area of research and what led you to it?
I’m interested in how technologies like machine learning and data visualization can help people understand the world. My initial interest was sparked while working in financial journalism, where I saw how difficult it was to convey quantitative concepts. Today, after spending many years in the software industry, I’m fascinated by the effects, good and bad, of technology in action.

What will you be teaching here?
I’ll be focusing on how to use technology to produce insight into complex systems—and how to use that insight effectively.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a professor?
I’ve led several industrial research teams, and I’ve spent time as an entrepreneur, a software engineer, a journalist, and an artist. If I had to try yet another career, I might write a novel.

Where are you from?
I grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts.

What is something you like to do outside of your academic work?
Anything that involves walking, whether strolling around city streets or hiking up a mountain.

What’s your favorite book, movie, or piece of art?
Any mobile by sculptor Alexander Calder will lift my spirits.

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