Business Students Present at the National Conference on Undergraduate ResearchBusiness Students Present at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research
School of Business seniors presented their original research & scholarship at a conference that drew more than 3,000 students to Ithaca this Spring.

Her four years at Ithaca College followed a natural progression for Waimon Kyu ’11 to her presentation at the 25th annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research, held this year at Ithaca.

She’d never heard of sustainability until she arrived at Ithaca four years ago. Studying at the Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise taught her about energy-efficient buildings. An internship at a local company, Silicon Solar, developed her interest in alternative energy.

“I began to recognize the immense potential such investments could have for our global society,” said Kyu, who’s majoring in business administration, with concentrations in international business and marketing and a minor in legal studies. At NCUR, she delivered a paper on “Sustainable Energy Solutions in the Global Market.”

She was one of four School of Business seniors presenting their original research and scholarship at the conference that drew more than 3,000 students to Ithaca for a weekend this spring.

Their topics reflected the varied interests of School of Business students:

  • Matthew Pollinger, a dual major in applied economics and business administration with a concentration in finance, discussed “The World of Monetary Policy,” the topic of his senior thesis in applied economics.
  • Meghan Miller, a dual major in accounting and business administration, worked with a professor on “Valuing Intellectual Assets During the Acquisition Period,” studying the value of professional degrees and licenses in divorce proceedings.
  • Garrett Zendman, an accounting major, delved into research regarding management, with an interest in how first impressions can determine a job interview’s outcome. His paper’s title: “Body Art and Its Implications in Relation to the Interviewing Process.”

The University of North Carolina at Asheville conceived the idea for a national conference open to undergraduates and hosted the first one, in 1987. Ithaca has long participated in NCUR and, since 1997, has hosted its own Whalen Symposium, a full day for students to present their research, writing, and compositions.

At NCUR, students have 15 minutes to present their material and five minutes to answer questions.

“I learned that I am capable of presenting high-quality accounting research, drawing on everything I have learned at Ithaca College, as a professional,” said Miller. “In theory, this is something that I have been coached to do in the classroom, especially senior year, but for me this experience was the capstone, my final exam on my education at Ithaca College.”

Two of Kyu’s professors – Hormoz Movassaghi, in finance and international business, and Marlene Barken, in marketing and law – approached her to present on alternative energy. Sustainability had become the focus of her interests at Ithaca.

“I didn’t realize how unsustainable most of our society’s everyday practices were, and I began to connect how many of the social and political issues I encountered throughout my classes reflected this inequity,” Kyu said.

She began researching his presentation – an assessment of the best markets around the world for solar and wind – in December. Condensing her material into a 15-minute presentation was more challenging than the actual presentation, she said.

For Pollinger as well, preparation was harder: “It took me eight months to finish my research and complete my thesis. Making the actual presentation was easy because I have been living and breathing monetary policy for the last year.”

He presented on the Taylor Rule, named for Stanford economist John Taylor.

“The Taylor Rule is a monetary policy rule meant to prescribe the federal funds rate,” Pollinger said. “The name is a misnomer. The rule is by no means a rule; it is a policy guide.”

He explained the implications of his findings: “The Fed does not necessarily change its objectives with respect to its dual mandate, but rather dims the importance of one of its objectives and by proxy shifts emphasis to the other objective. The Fed's dual mandate is that it can pursue stable prices or maximum sustainable output and employment; the Fed cannot, however, pursue both of these objectives simultaneously.”

Pollinger will pursue his master’s in finance next fall, strengthened by this year’s experience. “Being able to conduct high-level individual research is extremely valuable in my intended fields of finance and economics,” he said.

Ithaca’s small class sizes help students develop professional relationships with faculty, said Miller. After she took two accounting classes with Jeffrey Lippitt, they decided to undertake a joint research project.

“I don’t know that I would have had this opportunity at a larger institution,” she said.

Lippitt and former professor Eric Lewis (now a dean at Union Graduate College) wrote a paper about valuing intellectual assets for a divorce. Miller and Lippit’s paper extended the research to situations when the marriage and subsequent divorce of a student spouse and a non-student spouse does not neatly occur before and after graduation.

Miller called the five-minute question session “a very useful learning experience for that boardroom presentation one day.’’

She explained: “It is a valuable skill to practice, learning to think on the fly, consider alternative situations and apply your findings to those situations, and communicate what you know in different ways to help others to understand you.”

Zendman began researching his topic in the fall.

“The longest part of the process was reading through a significant amount of literature regarding body art in the workplace, and narrowing down my topic to something that had a clear scope, had never directly been addressed, and could be presented in a concise manner,” he said.

His findings complement the suggestions NCUR offers to presenters on its website, telling them to “dress for success” by avoiding jeans, T-shirts, short skirts, and low cut tops.

Visible body art (piercings and tattoos) in a corporate interview affects an applicant’s chances of being hired, regardless of the applicant’s interview, Zendman said. “There are many stereotypes attached to those with body art, and these stereotypes seem to overcome the actual quality and personalities than an applicant has.”

Participating in NCUR as the host school was gratifying to all students.

Said Zendman, “Presenting within the School of Business in a classroom where I have had several core classes provided me with comfort and enabled me to be more excited than nervous.”


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