Debjit Gupta and Yegyu Han, two Ph.D. candidates in the Department of Marketing.
Debjit Gupta and Yegyu Han, two Ph.D. candidates in the Department of Marketing.

Debjit Gupta and Yegyu Han, two Ph.D. graduates from the Department of Marketing at the Pamplin College of Business, have been named to faculty positions at distinguished universities. Gupta will be joining the State University of New York at Binghamton as an assistant professor of marketing and business analytics, while Han will be an assistant professor of marketing at Instituto de Empresa University in Madrid, Spain. Both are expected to begin their positions when the institutions reopen for the fall semester.

Han received her bachelor’s degree in business administration as well as an M.S. in marketing from Korea University. Her research utilizes psychological principles and associated experimental methods to study various aspects of consumer behavior. She examines consumer relationships with emerging technologies such as smart agents and consumer behavior in new technology-driven environments.

“Marketing provides great opportunities to work with different faculty members throughout the program,” explained Han. “I was able to expand my research interest and understanding of the field not only through coursework and seminars, but the diversified knowledge and expertise of each professor as well. My dissertation advisor encouraged me to think about the future of our field, based on the rapidly changing technologies and our life. The emerging technologies have drawn various interesting phenomena so far, and this will further guide how people think, perceive, and behave.”

Gupta received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Jadavpur University in India and an M.S. in quantitative economics from the Indian Statistical Institute. His research uses Bayesian methods to examine how firm actions impact market response in various contexts.

“I am interested in how platforms function,” said Gupta. “With individuals spending much of their time online, the importance of such platforms has exploded in recent times. However, we still do not fully understand how individuals and platforms function and the effect of the actions of one over the other.”

As with all levels of students throughout the world, the coronavirus pandemic provided unique challenges for the pair during their final semester in Blacksburg.

“I could say it has been challenging if I'm only focusing on the downsides, since I had to change many things for my teaching and dissertation research,” said Han. “I had to change all lecture formats online. Additionally, I had to make critical changes in my research, as it involves Alexa interactions and needs lab access for hassle-free data collection processes. I had to devise a way to run them online.

For me, however, these challenges have been valuable experiences that have enabled me to become versatile! It gave me more confidence that I can adjust and survive in any unexpected situation.”

Gupta was thankful that Pamplin’s information technology team made his transition almost seamless. “A lot of my research work involves running statistical models,” he explained. “This was not affected very much since I run them on Virtual Machines maintained by Jim Dickhans and the IT team. They have been able to keep these up and running even during these challenging times.

“I am also teaching a course on marketing research this semester. I made it a point to check with my students about the types of challenges they were facing and tweaked several aspects of the course to accommodate everyone's needs.”

Despite the challenges of this past semester, both individuals credit their time in the Department of Marketing’s doctoral program with their educational evolution.

“I was indeed lucky that I joined Virginia Tech when the Marketing Department was further growing up,” said Han. “If I were to summarize my life at Virginia Tech, I will not hesitate to say that it's been all about the amazing people that I've met. The Ph.D. seminars with in-depth discussions and the methodology courses from both marketing and other departments provided me fertile background knowledge and skills to build up my theories and experiments.

She continued, “The marketing faculty members are always ready and willing to discuss Ph.D. students’ new projects, their new ideas, and build up various research projects. The collaborative nature among the members consisting of the school helped me to speak up, freely and bravely, and try challenging research ideas, and learn a lot from the trials and errors and fine-tuning those ideas.”

“While shortlisting and applying to colleges, I saw that the faculty at Virginia Tech had a wonderful academic record,” explained Gupta. “I realized that being able to interact and learn from the faculty here would improve me as a researcher. I made it a point to take both quantitative and behavioral courses. My dissertation advisors encouraged me to apply these skills in my research.”

Gupta added that his positive interactions were not limited to just faculty. “Our group of doctoral students is very friendly, and we try to help one another whenever possible. We support each other both academically as well as in our regular lives.

“Even during the interview process, Yegyu and I worked together and helped one another.”