Dr. Ratna Sarkar was born in the city of Lucknow, located in the Uttar Pradesh province of India, in 1960. At the age of three, her family moved south to the city of Hyderabad, where she was raised and learned Telugu. At age 16, she entered the undergraduate engineering program at the Indian Institute of Technology, where on the first day of classes she would meet her future husband, Vivek Sarkar, also sixteen. After graduating at 21 in 1981, the couple moved to Palo Alto, California for graduate school. Both of them enrolled at Stanford University, with Dr. Sarkar pursuing a Master's degree in computer science, and Vivek pursuing a PhD in electrical engineering. In 1991, she returned to Stanford University to obtain a PhD in business, and in 1998, she moved to Stamford, Connecticut, where she worked as an assistant professor of Accounting and Control, and as a research fellow at Harvard Business School. She also worked as a consultant for CRA International Inc., a leading consulting firm. In August of 2007, her family moved to Houston, Texas, where she would teach courses and work as the Associate Dean of Engineering for Global Initiatives at the George R. Brown School of Engineering. At the end of 2011, she began working as the Director of Institutional Research at Rice University.