Category: Majors

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.

Tech Student Entrepreneur Advances in Global Pitch Competition

MTU student Ali Dabas and Rourke Sylvain posing with a large check
Rourke Sylvain, pictured right, earlier this year with fellow Tech student, Ali Dabas.

From an applicant pool of 600 students, Rourke Sylvain, president of Michigan Tech’s chapter of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO), is among the 100 participants selected to compete in the 39th Annual Global Pitch Competition hosted by the University of Tampa. Over the next month, Rourke, who is a graduate student pursuing biomedical engineering, will create a four-phase online investor pitch deck—the problem, the solution, a business model, and a video pitch.

Twenty semifinalists will move on to present their ideas live at the Global Conference in Chicago, Illinois, to be held October 28-30. The highly selective conference and competition promises to “Frame Your Future” with an assembly of some of the brightest minds in collegiate entrepreneurship.

Founded in 1983, CEO has a global network of more than 250 college and university chapters, and supports and inspires the growth and development of students seeking to be entrepreneurial. Michigan Tech’s chapter of CEO was established last year, and the environment in the College of Business (COB) is rich for tech-savvy innovation.

“Rourke’s opportunity is a reflection of the advancements we can make when STEM intersects with business.”

Jon Leinonen, COB faculty member who advises CEO at Tech

Rourke is advancing Integrated Molecular Innovations LLC, an enterprise centered on his research on electrochemical biosensors. His end goal is to develop a device that can remotely monitor thyroid hormones in patients. According to Rourke’s research, more than 3 million people are diagnosed with hypothyroidism every year. Many lived with symptoms for years pre-diagnosis, and most don’t find a stable medication regimen for another year or more. He says the current testing protocol requires patients to travel to a medical provider’s office or a central clinical laboratory every few months to have blood drawn and tested. Rourke’s device will allow for home testing, resulting in a richer data set for physicians and faster diagnosis and symptom relief.

MTU student Rourke standing near podium
Rourke aims to improve the wellbeing of people living with hypothyroidism.

Rourke’s pitch must include value proposition, customer discovery, product-market fit, investment requirements, and customer pain points. Much of his entrepreneurial training has come through his participation in Husky Innovate, a series of events, workshops, and resources designed to guide students through key phases of innovation and business development.

MTU student Rourke on stage pitching his enterprise
Through his involvement in Husky Innovate, Rourke has already gained pitching experience and success on campus and beyond.

Earlier this year, Rourke saw significant success when he was selected to pitch during TCNewTech’s University Showcase, part of Michigan Tech’s Grand Traverse region initiative. During Central Michigan University’s New Venture Competition, Rouke and fellow biomedical engineering student Ali Dabas earned second place in the “High-Tech, High-Growth” category, with a prize of $5,000 in seed money. 

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.

Xin Li is COB 2021-22 Teacher of the Year

Image of professor Xin Li
Dr. Xin Li, the Michigan Technological University College of Business Teacher of the Year

During his first year as assistant professor of finance in the College of Business (COB) at Michigan Technological University, Xin Li has been named by students as the 2021-22 COB Teacher of the Year. Li came to Michigan Tech in 2021 after earning his Ph.D. in finance from the University of Cincinnati and an M.S. in Economics from Texas A&M University.

Approaching his second year at Tech, Li is already supporting students as advisor to the Finance Club, in addition to instructing Principles of Finance; Advanced Financial Management; and Risk Management and FinTech.

“Being recognized by students is my life goal and it is the highest award for a teacher.”

Xin Li, assistant professor of finance, Michigan Tech College of Business

More than 80 COB students submitted instruction evaluation responses. Here are a few of their praises about Li:

It is a special experience to be in a class with a professor who clearly loves what they are doing.”

“Dr. Li asks us to bring in outside opinions, so we can diversify our abilities.”

“FIN 3000 is not easy, but Dr. Li helps students understand difficult concepts to really excel.”

“He has a very logical way of teaching material and it has helped the content click for me.”


“Dr. Li expressed his confidence in me ahead of the final exam.”

Li has earned previous recognition for his teaching ability. He was the sole winner for the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award of the College of Business at University of Cincinnati. He also won the Finance Department Teaching Award and was named to  the Dean’s List of Teaching Excellence.

Image of professor Xin Li

“Dr. Li has taken personal initiative by actively engaging with students, colleagues and staff. He is an excellent addition to the COB faculty, and it’s great to see him recognized for his contributions so early in his career,” says Mari Buche, Michigan Tech College of Business associate dean.

Dean Johnson, COB dean, adds: “Dr. Li’s impact on students is so great that students go out of their way to relay their praise of his teaching to me.”

On the research side, Li’s activities center on empirical asset pricing, financial institutions and markets, and market microstructure. He’s interested in understanding how human activities interact with the financial market and drive the dynamics of security prices. While existing finance research has focused on the equity market, Li’s research targets the bond market, which is occupied by passive investors such as pension funds, insurance companies and banks. He’s hopeful his papers will shed light on the strategic roles played by passive investors.

Li is also interested in burgeoning topics such as FinTech and sustainable finance.

“I love the research environment and diversified culture in the College of Business.”

Xin Li

He presents his research at national and international conferences including American Finance Association, Financial Management Association, European Financial Management Association, Eastern Finance Association, Southern Finance Association and American Risk and Insurance Association.

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.

Finance Club Inaugural Investment Competition Concludes, Mattila Takes First

campus clock tower in spring


During spring semester, the Michigan Tech Finance Club hosted a 10-week stock competition open to all College of Business (COB) majors and minors. Each of the 29 participants received $100,000 in virtual dollars to use on the Investopedia simulator. At the conclusion of trading on April 12, the top three winning portfolios received cash prizes from the COB Dean’s Office. 

Madison Mattila
Madison Mattila, accounting with analytics major

First place $500—Madison Mattila

“I really enjoyed the competition! It was fun to compete against classmates. It also was valuable to spend time watching the market and using the simulator. I’ve been working on a strategy for a while, which I’ve yet to perfect, so I don’t want to spread too much about it right now.”

Second place $300—James Zuzelski

James Zuzelski
James Zuzelski, economics minor

“This was an amazing experience. It motivated me to try new things. My strategy was to capitalize on medium- to high-risk stocks that were trending due to current and near-future geopolitical factors. Due to the short time frame I went with a high-risk, low-diversity, individual stock portfolio.”

Third place $200—Bill Rautiola

Bill Rautiola
Bill Rautiola, finance major

“I consider myself an experienced trader, having done a fair amount of trading on my own. My strategy for this game was to invest in energy sectors, including oil. I also placed a couple option trades.”

The Finance Club at Michigan Tech, advised by Xin Li and supported by the Undergraduate Student Government and the COB, promotes the interest in and knowledge of the field of finance. Members have access to career development opportunities, guidance from Applied Portfolio Management Program (APMP) members, and resources within the APMP Lab. In addition, club members take annual trips to visit mutual funds, the Federal Reserve, investment firms, and the futures and options exchange market in the Midwest.

Assistant Professor Xin Li
Xin Li, assistant professor of finance

Club President Elisabeth Mattson said plans are in place to hold the competition next year and interested participants can connect with incoming President Kevin Hoefer (kdhoefer@mtu.edu) for more information.

“The Finance Club Stock Competition allowed students across the College of Business to try out new investing strategies in a low-risk environment, while competing with their peers.

The winners had different strategies and were able to share knowledge and skills with participants, many of whom are excited to try again next year.”

Elisabeth Mattson, 2021-22 Michigan Tech Finance Club President

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.