Category: Faculty Research

COB Announces Faculty Awards in Research, Service

Each year the Michigan Tech College of Business recognizes faculty for their accomplishments in the areas of service and research. A faculty panel of past recipients guides the selection process. This year’s honorees are:

Jenny Apriesnig–Service

This year’s Service Award went to Jenny Apriesnig, assistant professor of economics. A faculty member in the College since 2018, Apriesnig took on the advisor role for Michigan Tech Collegiate DECA last fall. Under her leadership and mentorship, the group reactivated and saw early success. Highlights include: Six students competing and placing at the state competition in February and four students competing in the national conference in Baltimore in April, with two earning a top 10 placement.

The organization now has 13 members and is looking forward to growing.

Apriesnig’s above-and-beyond efforts were noticed by her students, too—many of whom nominated her for Tech’s student organization advisor of the year, another award she received this year. Nominees noted that she traveled with the group to various functions across the country and held one-on-one mentoring sessions to ensure each student felt prepared and supported ahead of their competitions and presentations.

Many College of Business students were active in DECA during their high school careers, and were eager to continue their endeavors during college.

Professor Jenny Apreisnig holding a plaque in front of a step and repeat
Jenny Apriesnig

“Jenny’s dedication to support DECA students is appreciated by everyone in the College of Business; she is an outstanding role model for our students,”

Mari Buche, associate dean, Michigan Tech College of Business

William Breffle–Research

Many of Associate Professor of Economics William (Bill) Breffle’s research papers are published in top environmental economics journals, including the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, The American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Land Economics, Ecological Economics, and Environmental and Resource Economics. Breffle has also published in policy journals such as Contemporary Economic Policy and Urban Studies. Two of Breffle’s journal articles were selected for International Library of Environmental Economics and Policy book volumes as “important and influential essays.” Another publication he co-authored is listed among the top 200 most influential research papers in the discipline of environmental and ecological economics. Impressively, according to Google Scholar, his research has been cited more than 1,500 times.

portrait of Dr. William Breffle
Bill Breffle

During the first half of his 30-year career, Breffle’s research centered on the valuation of economic damages caused by injuries to natural resources, such as mining injuries, releases of organics, and oil spills. Research teams across 15 states that included him secured more than $700 million in settlements for restoration and remediation. More recently, his research has investigated pressing topics related to sustainability and carrying capacity, especially focused on the Great Lakes, but also climate change issues as far away as Laos and Uganda. Blending his teaching with research, Breffle’s co-authors frequently include students. 

“Dr. Breffle’s selection for the COB Faculty Research Award is a reflection of his career-long commitment to academic discovery. His research has informed policy decision-makers on national issues for more than 20 years.

“MTU students are fortunate to learn from a person who sits at the forefront of his profession,”

Dean Johnson, dean, Michigan Tech College of Business

About the College of Business

The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, business analytics, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.

Dai and Min Named Ten Haken Faculty Fellows

Jun Dai (left) and Junhong Min (right)

Following a recommendation approved by the Provost and President, the College of Business (COB) is pleased to announce that Jun Dai has been appointed as the Ten Haken Faculty Fellow in Accounting and Finance, and the Ten Haken Faculty Fellow in Business is Junhong Min. 

“The College of Business is blessed with excellent faculty,” says Dean Johnson, dean of the College. “As such, a goal of the Ten Haken Faculty Fellows is to rotate these Fellows such that more faculty can be recognized and provided with a boost to their careers.

The COB has a goal of 50 percent of our faculty in funded faculty positions by 2035.

Dean Johnson, dean, Michigan Tech College of Business

Ten Haken Faculty Fellow in Accounting and Finance

Jun Dai’s most recent accomplishments include lecturing on “Teaching Blockchain to Accounting Students” at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Faculty Hour webinar in August, with more than 650 faculty colleagues from around the world in attendance.

Of the appointment, she says: “This offers tremendous support to my career from many perspectives—working with students on course tutors, establishing new student research projects, and traveling to conferences to share outcomes with academia and industry.”

Using the Ten Haken resource to support the local community through a new project that aims to identify social pathology through big data is also a goal for Dai.

Dai, who achieved her Ph.D. at Rutgers University and began at Tech as visiting faculty in 2018, is an assistant professor of accounting. Her research interests lie in applying new technologies such as blockchain, industry 4.0, and data analytics in the auditing profession. Her teaching foci include accounting systems, accounting analytical methods, and business database management. She also serves as the associate editor of the Journal of Emerging Technologies in Accounting and an editorial board member of the Journal of Information Systems.

In July, Dai chaired the 31st Annual Research Workshop on Strategic and Emerging Technologies in Accounting, Auditing, and Tax, held in San Diego.

She received the 2021 American Accounting Association Notable Contributions to Accounting Literature Award for a research article titled “Toward Blockchain-Based Accounting and Assurance.” In it, she explores how blockchain technology could reengineer the existing accounting and auditing procedures to make them more transparent, intelligent, and automated.

Ten Haken Faculty Fellow in Business

Junhong “Jun” Min, led students in a hands-on market research project that, through the study of digital metrics, directly benefited COB’s brand positioning and fall website refresh. As advisor of the American Marketing Association student organization, Min, an associate professor of marketing, mentors students through sales and digital marketing competitions in regional conferences, and hosts networking events with industry experts from leading companies. 

“The Ten Haken Fellowship provides new experiential learning opportunities for students, including alumni networking, community service, local marketing internships, and student-led research projects,” Min says.

The fellowship helps bridge the gap between academia and practitioners in the industry.

Jun Min, associate professor of marketing, Michigan Tech College of Business

Min was a finalist for the 2022 Distinguished Teaching Award, a reflection of his expertise and passion for leading hands-on marketing courses—including Principles of Marketing, Marketing Data Analytics, Sales and Sales Technology, and B2B Marketing in a Digital Age. He studies the relationship governance problems that threaten a firm’s long-term success and growth. He has presented potential solutions in a variety of journal publications, including the European Journal of Marketing, Journal of Business Research, and Journal of Business Ethics, as well as national and international conferences such as the American Marketing Association, the Society for Marketing Advances, and the Decision Sciences Institute.

His analysis, conducted with Matt Monte of Houghton-based Monte Consulting, earned the award for best paper at the Society for Marketing Advances conference in Orlando, Florida. Using more than 12,000 ratings and reviews collected from IMDb.com, the pair identified factors causing inconsistencies between online ratings and reviews. Their work aims to contribute to the understanding of sponsorship marketing performance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lasting Ten Haken Impact

The Ten Haken Faculty Fellows were established in 2017 through the support of Joyce and Richard Ten Haken, COB accounting alumni. Prior to the appointment of Dai and Min, Jeff Wall, associate professor of management information systems, and Sheila Milligan, associate teaching professor of accounting, fulfilled the roles from 2019 to 2022. “Sincere appreciation is extended to both Sheila and Jeff for their depth of service to the fellowships,” says Johnson. “We look forward to the new endeavors Dr. Dai and Dr. Min establish during their term as Ten Haken Fellows.”

About the College of Business

The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, business analytics, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.

Engineering Economics: One Student’s Journey to a Grad School Scholarship

John Ruf and a classmate during a DC trip
John Ruf (left) during a DC trip for winning the iOme Challenge, a national retirement security essay competition

Like many STEM-savvy Huskies, John Ruf came to Michigan Technological University to study mechanical engineering. When he arrived on campus from the Chicago suburb of Orland Park back in 2016, Ruf’s passion for economics was untapped. A series of unexpected opportunities during his time at Tech gave Ruf the chance to dive deeper into a newly discovered field.

Ruf’s initial interest in economics began with Free to Choose, by prominent monetary economist and University of Chicago’s-own Milton Friedman, followed by John Galbraith’s The Affluent Society. Ruf says, “I began to realize that economics is a mathematical and scientific discipline, not just something people argue about; it’s an endeavor to understand how people behave, trade, and make the best for themselves in a complicated world.”

It wasn’t long after that Ruf saw a poster for an MTU Economics Club meeting, and on a whim he showed up.

During that first meeting, Ruf learned from club advisor Emanuel Oliveira, an associate professor of economics in the College of Business, that many club members had graduated, leaving a gap in leadership. Ruf stepped up.

“At the time, I had not even taken an economics course, so I really had to learn on the fly, without any coursework backing me up.”

Ruf

As club president, Ruf reinvigorated the group by hosting regular meetings, moderating discussions of current economics events, and networking with guest speakers from industry. He was building relationships as well as knowledge. “Emanuel always took the time to teach me economic concepts and to introduce me to members of the College of Business,” he says.

Between the four economics courses offered to engineering students (one required and three electives), and his curiosity and club involvement, it was a natural evolution for Ruf to add an 18-credit economics minor to his résumé.

In his junior year, he landed a cost-management engineering co-op at Oshkosh Corporation, which blended econ and engineering. He’d continue that position into his senior year. In addition, Ruf became involved in the KHOB Economic Outlook Report, a research project studying the four-county region—Keweenaw, Houghton, Ontonagon, and Baraga— surrounding Michigan Tech. “We presented to the community and attracted the interest of policymakers—that’s when I knew that studying economics and using the data-driven principles we were learning in class not only mattered, but could make a difference in the world,” he says.

Ruf (far right) meeting with US Senator Debbie Stabenow (Michigan)

Balancing Studies and Leadership

Ruf, who served as VP of finance for Blue Marble Security Enterprise on campus, is the first to admit that managing the opportunities—leadership in student organizations, his co-op, research projects, and studies in both engineering and economics—was a challenge. “I had to master time management skills very quickly.” His econ underpinning helped with that feat, too.

The Blue Marble Security team

“The comparative advantage I learned in Jenny Apriesnig’s [assistant professor of economics] class helped me realize I could spend less time on my strengths—like data visualization and coding—and focus on areas I’m not as efficient at,” says Ruf, who wound up applying what he learned in econometrics everywhere, including his Senior Design engineering project.

During what was the most competitive application cycle in more than a decade, Ruf set his sights on an economics graduate program—and not just any program. “I applied to schools as far away as Italy and also to top US schools like Duke, Clemson, and the University of Chicago.”

​​The vast research Ruf conducted while on campus, he says, prepared him for top programs. With mentorship from Associate Professor of Economics Bill Breffle, Ruff conducted an in-depth study of the impact of broomball referees on game outcomes, producing a paper in the niche field of sports economics. He also was an integral member of Dr. Apriesnig’s research team—a study of local beer brewing: “Berries & Brews: Understanding the Market and Technological Processing Opportunities of Michigan Grown Fruit in the Craft Beverage Industry.”

He helped manage and motivate the team. During the survey stage of the project, John helped develop the questions, contact Michigan brewers, and analyze the results with econometric methods.

“I have never met another student with a more genuine curiosity for answering economic questions. Anyone that meets John immediately knows of his passion for economics.”

Apriesnig

The relationships Ruf developed with College of Business professors both in class and through hands-on research projects supported his grad school application process. “My professors advised me on which schools to apply to and they helped review my submissions, making them as strong as possible. They were also always available for pep talks when I started to doubt myself.”

He did it! Profs Sorcha (left) and Apriesnig (right) help celebrate the big day with John and his fellow 2021 grads!

Ruf earned admission to a University of Chicago PhD-prep program, complete with a valuable and hard-to-earn scholarship. In fall 2021, Ruf began the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences. The economics program accepts up to 36 students on average from a 1,800 applicant pool. Ruf’s scholarship will cover two-thirds of his master’s degree.

His ultimate goal is to become an academic economist. Some of his future research focus areas include using patent and shale reservoir data to evaluate the relationship between process improvements and reservoir productivity.

“At Michigan Tech, my mentors in the College of Business inspired me to use the tools I learned in engineering and economics to really further our understanding of the 21st century economy. At UChicago, I hope to make my mentors proud and showcase the best of Tech,” Ruf concludes.


About the College of Business

The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.

Brown Bag Research Seminar Series

The campus community is invited to hear Laura Connolly, assistant professor of economics, present ‘Labor Mobility and the Affordable Care Act: Heterogeneous Impacts of the Preexisting Conditions Provision,’ as part of our Brown Bag Research Seminar Series, Noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, September 29 in Academic Office Building room 101.

Laura Connolly

“The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) preexisting conditions provision ensures that insurance companies cannot deny coverage or charger higher premiums to individuals due to a prior health condition. We evaluate the impact of this provision on job mobility in the U.S. to determine whether the provision reduced job lock for individuals with chronic conditions. Our results highlight the heterogeneous impacts of the policy on different subgroups of the population. We find significant improvements in labor mobility among male household heads with prior health conditions, but no significant change in labor mobility among females. Declines in job lock are largest among families with children and household heads with relatively low levels of education. The results are consistent with the policy improving access to healthcare, and both mental and physical wellbeing, which ultimately increased labor market flexibility for some workers.”

About the College of Business
The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.

Elham Asgari Named Michigan Tech College of Business Gates Professor

The Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship in the College of Business is the 2020-21 Gates Professor.

The Gates Family Foundation partners with communities to address long-term quality-of-life challenges and opportunities. At Michigan Technological University, the position will support student engagement in entrepreneurial activities and contribute to the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

Elham (Ellie) Asgari joined the faculty of the Michigan Tech College of Business after earning her PhD in business management from Virginia Tech. Her research is at the intersection between entrepreneurship and innovation, and primarily focuses on the impact of upper echelons, star employees, and human resources on technological innovation. She has presented at the Academy of Management Annual Meetings and Strategic Management Society conference, among many others, and is published in top-tier journals such as Journal of Management, Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice, and Expert Systems with Applications.



Her most recent paper titled, “Red Giants or Black Holes? The Antecedent Conditions and Multi-Level Impacts of Star Performers” was accepted for publication in the Academy of Management Annals in fall 2020.

Prior to entering her doctoral program, Asgari worked in industry, specializing in human resource management. She holds an MBA and a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

“With her advanced business and technical background, Dr. Asgari is well-matched for Michigan Tech. The College of Business looks forward to Dr. Asgari leveraging her Gates Professor role in support of the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Michigan Tech, the Keweenaw Peninsula, and across Michigan,” says Dean Johnson, dean of the Michigan Tech College of Business.

In particular, Asgari will promote two of Michigan Tech’s flagship student-based entrepreneurial activities, the immersive Silicon Valley Experience, and the Bob Mark Business Model Competition, in addition to supporting faculty and research in the entrepreneurial area. 

Of the appointment, Asgari says: “I am very excited about this opportunity and look forward to using the capacity of the position to enhance the entrepreneurship program at MTU.”

– – –

The Michigan Tech College of Business is large enough to lead and small enough to care. Our faculty are active in research, yet build close relationships with students. Professors understand Huskies’ career goals and provide them with the knowledge, tools, and experiences to create the future.