What was it like having your work on education cited by President Obama in the State of the Union address?
It is terrific to see academic research having such a broad policy impact. This is the motivation for the work that we do.
How does it feel to be clubbed with the likes of Paul Krugman?
Past recipients include the US secretary of the treasury, the president's chief economic advisor, as well as Nobel laureates. It's truly an honour.
What were the findings of your research?
I realised that straightforward savings incentives don't work, kindergarten training matters, value-added tests really do mean something, and awareness of tax benefits is the key.
So, KG classrooms determine later success?
Yes, those lucky to have better teachers in childhood are more likely to attend college and have higher earnings.
You were offered tenure at Harvard at just 28. What motivated you?
Passion for research; supportive family, mentors.
Any plans of teaching in India?
My research has direct bearing on policy questions in India. I am interested in understanding how we can help disadvantaged groups.
How to improve India's education standards?
Improving elementary education (not just college education) might be a key answer.
Is there enough research in the sciences and economics?
I think the world would benefit from more advances in these fields.
Your role models?
Gandhi for his social vision, Michael Jordan for his determination, Paul Samuelson for founding modern economics.
I am currently studying how equality of opportunity varies across America to identify policies that can help poor kids succeed.