Doctoral Students Provide a Taste of their Research over Lunch

5/9/2014

The Howe School of Technology Management’s Ph.D. program is well known for producing the kind of in-depth research that’s sought after by industries of virtually every flavor.

It’s also building a reputation for its lunches.

That’s not an accident, said Dr. Thomas Lechler, director of the doctoral program. The Howe School hosts a lunch in the fall, to welcome new doctoral candidates, and in the spring, to congratulate those who’ve completed their studies and defended their dissertations.

“It is our tradition, and also our signature,” he said.

“When you work together over so many years, you are happy to see them move to the next step in their careers … but you are also sad to see somebody who was here, and was really a person who was pleasant to be with, move on.”

The most recent lunch, held May 7, honored in particular the four Howe School doctoral students who have completed their studies. In a sign of how busy Howe students are, only one of the four — Yegin Genc — was able to attend. Jie Ren and Rongjuan Chen both had job commitments, while Ting Gao traveled home for the first time in months to see her family.

Lechler spoke highly of Genc, whose research interests center around information systems, but earned a rebuke from the student when he referred to him by his first name. 

“It’s Dr. Genc now,” he said, getting a laugh from the audience.

As faculty and staff from the Howe School ate Chinese food, they got to listen to about a dozen Ph.D. candidates discuss their research and present updates on their findings.

Among the presentations during the event:

  • Elias Aleman, who studies diversity in executive teams with his adviser, Dr Ann Murphy. He’s examining CEO hiring decisions at Fortune 100 companies to get a sense of how executives value diversity. This research has been presented recently at the Strategic Management Conference Society.
  • Huaye Li, who focuses on data mining, social media analytics and decision making online, among other areas. Li got a laugh when she said, “It’s the first time in my life I’ve ever eaten a chicken dumpling,” and discussed some of the papers she’s worked on with her adviser, Dr. Yasuaki Sakomoto.
  • Siwei Zhu, a first-year Ph.D. student who’s investigating differences between funded and unfunded startup projects. Part of how he’s doing that is observing Introduction to Entrepreneurship, a course run by his adviser, Dr. Peter Koen, that requires engineering students to develop a business by thinking about a problem from an entrepreneurial standpoint.
  • Gechen Jiang, who is interested in developing a risk model for electricity prices, which he argues are set inefficiently. His research, with Dr. Germán Creamer and Dr. Ricardo Collado, looks to build models of the pricing of electricity and commodities, then use expert weighting to effectively help forecast pricing trends.

Visit the doctoral studies page for more information on the Howe School’s Ph.D. program.