Lei Gao

George Mason University Costello College of Business Faculty Lei Gao
Titles and Organizations

Associate Professor, Finance

Contact Information

Email: lgao9@gmu.edu
Phone: (703) 993-6806
Office Location: Enterprise Hall 328
Office Hours: By appointment

Personal Websites


Dr. Gao is an associate professor of finance at George Mason University, where he teaches courses on corporate finance, investments, and empirical methods in finance. Dr. Gao has taught at Iowa State University, University of Memphis, University of Georgia, and Michigan State University. Dr. Gao is an active member of the American Finance Association and Financial Management Association. His research interests include market structure, investments, lending, corporate finance, and FinTech. His research has been published in top journals such as the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA (PNAS), Journal of Financial Economics (JFE), and Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis (JFQA) among others. Dr. Gao's research has been featured in national news media, including ABC, Bloomberg, CNN, Financial Times, Fortune, NBC, Washington Post, and academic press, including ASSA, etc. His publication at PNAS about COVID-19 is one of the outputs of his COVID-19 project, which the CDC has adopted to forecast the mortality of COVID-19 in the U.S. and fight the pandemic. His publication at PNAS about Fair Lending is ranked by the Financial Times as #15 in its "Top 100 Business School Research with Social Impact" globally. Dr. Gao has given a speech at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) about fair lending. He has also been invited to be an expert witness before the U.S. Congress and his research has been the base for the testimony. His publication at JFE about "Market Intraday Momentum" is one of the most downloaded papers at SSRN in concurrent research. His research about short-selling regulation at JCF has been featured in the Cato Institute Research Brief. Dr. Gao has been a Financial Economist at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), where he provides economics analysis and memos to support the Commission's enforcement and regulation, protecting investors; maintaining fair, orderly, and efficient markets; facilitating capital formation. Dr. Gao earned a Ph.D. in Finance from the University of Georgia, an M.S. in Industrial Math from Michigan State University, and a B.S. in Computer Science from Peking University.

Dr. Gao has served as a reviewer for the NSF CAREER Award and top academic journals, including American Economic Review: Insights, Management Science, Review of Finance, The Accounting Review, Journal of Corporate Finance, Journal of Banking and Finance, and Journal of Business Ethics, etc. Dr. Gao has delivered many presentations and talks at academic conferences, University seminars, Governments, and research institutions.

Research Interests 

  • Market Structure 
  • Investments 
  • Corporate Finance 
  • FinTech/Big Data 


  • Ph.D., Finance, University of Georgia, Athens, GA  
  • M.S., Industrial Mathematics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 
  • B.S.,  Computer Science, Peking University 

Teaching Interests 

  • Corporate Finance 
  • Investments 
  • Empirical Methods in Finance 
  • Security Analysis and Portfolio Management 

Research and Awards 


  • AFA - ANZ (The Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand) Best Paper Award
  • Research Proposal Seed Grant
  • Outstanding Paper Award Eastern Finance Association(EFA) 
  • Best Paper Award Semi Finalist Financial Management Association  
  • Best Paper Award Finalist Financial Management Association Asia Pacific 
  • US SEC IPA Grant 
  • US Census CPRDC Research Grant 
  • Principal Financial Faculty Professional Development Grant 
  • Research Acceleration Grant 
  • Summer Research Grant 

Working Papers

  • "Seeing is Believing: Annual Report 'Graphicity' and Stock Returns Predictability",  with Wesley Deng, Bo Hu, and Guofu Zhou, Under Review
  • "Common Ownership along the Supply Chain and Corporate Earnings Management", with J. Han, JB. Kim, and Z. Pan, 3rd Round,
  • "Local Religiosity and Financial Advisory Misconduct ", with Cowan, A., J. Han, and Z. Pan, 3rd Round,
  • "The information content of short selling and put option trading: When are they substitutes?" with X. Deng and D. Kemme, R&R,
  • "Online Information Acquisition and Investor Trading.", with Oliver Li, and Eric Yeung

Published Research

Dr. Gao’s scholarly papers can be accessed here.

  • "CEO Political orientation and the information disclosure" , with A. Elnahas, N. Hossain, and JB Kim, Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, (2023), Forthcoming
  • "Individualistic CEO and Corporate Innovation: Evidence from U.S. Frontier Culture", with J. Han, Z. Pan, and H. Zhang, , Research Policy (FT50, AJG4*) (2023)
  • "Count on your subordinates: Executives' horizons and innovation", with Christine Jiang, and Mohamed Mekhaimer, Journal of Banking and Finance (2023)
  • "Evaluation of individual and ensemble probabilistic forecasts of COVID-19 mortality in the US”, with Cramer et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA, (PNAS); forthcoming; 
  • "Standing out from the Crowd via Corporate Goodness: Evidence from a Natural Experiment." (Media Coverage: Harvard Law School Forum), with J. He and J. Wu, Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, (2022)
  • "Lending practices to same-sex borrowers," has been circulated as "The Rainbow of Credit: Same-sex Mortgage Discrimination and Two-sided Spillover Effect", with H. Sun (2019), Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA, (PNAS);  (2018);  Paper Link ( media coverage: AEA / ASSA Video, HUD, Washington Post,  NBC, Bloomberg, Fortune, CNN, ABC, The Salt Lake Tribune, EurekAlert) 
  • "Market Intraday Momentum",  with Yufeng Han, Sophia Li, and Guofu Zhou (2018), Journal of Financial Economics, Link to Paper  
  • "Short Selling and Stock Price Crash Risk: Causal Evidence from a Natural Experiment," has been circulated as "The Pathogen, Scapegoat, or a Miracle Drug? Short Selling and Stock Price Crash Risk." with Xiaohu Deng and Jeong-Bon Kim (2020), (Media Coverage: Oxford Business Law OBLB, reprinted in Cato Institute Research Briefs in Economics Policy)", Journal of Corporate Finance,  Link to Paper 
  • "Peer Firms’ Earnings Predictability and Pricing Efficiency—Evidence from IPOs", with Zabihollah Rezaee and Ji Yu (2020), European Journal of Finance,  
  • "Return Predictability: The Dual Signaling Hypothesis of Stock Splits", with Ahmed Elnahas and Ghada Ismail (2019), The Financial Review
  • "Does Local Religiosity Affect Organizational Risk-Taking? Evidence from the Hedge Fund Industry", with Ying Wang, and Jing Zhao (2017), Journal of Corporate Finance, (Lead Article); Eastern Finance Association (EFA) Outstanding Paper Award, Link to Paper (Media Coverage: Science X, EurekAlert, phys.org) 

Media Clippings