From leadership to sustainability, UB School of Management doctoral students showcase research

Release Date: March 27, 2020


BUFFALO, N.Y. — How do corporate sustainability efforts affect company performance? Do donors consider overhead costs when giving to charity? And how do exploded-view images—showing how products are assembled—influence consumer perceptions?

University at Buffalo School of Management doctoral researchers presented the answers to these questions—and many more—during the ninth annual PhD Showcase. (For the record: Their research showed sustainability initiatives increase company performance, donors are sensitive to overhead disclosures but won’t seek them out, and consumers prefer products that use exploded-view ads.)

At the PhD Showcase, held in early March, the UB School of Management community celebrated the research, publications and success of the school’s doctoral students.

Kalan Norris of Buffalo was named Rising Star, in honor of his exceptional early performance in the program through his coursework, engagement with faculty on research and contributions to the intellectual atmosphere of the school. At the event, Norris, from the school’s Organization and Human Resources Department, presented his findings on why some people perceive delegating tasks to be poor management or even the absence of leadership altogether. He received a $1,000 prize to support future conference attendance.

The Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence went to Scott Laing, BS ’15, in recognition of his exceptional promise and performance as a teacher within the doctoral program. A Buffalo resident and member of the Finance Department, Laing collected a $500 prize to support future conference attendance.

Xunyi Wang, MS ’16, of Shandong Dezhou, China, received the Dean’s Award for Research Excellence, which goes to a senior doctoral student who has demonstrated exceptional research performance. Criteria for consideration include journal publications, conference presentations, research awards and other factors that demonstrate scholarly potential. Wang, a member of the Management Science and Systems Department who co-authored a recent study on the psychology of hackers, received a $2,500 prize to support his dissertation.

Overall, 13 doctoral students from all six of the School of Management’s academic departments presented their research at the PhD Showcase. Two students—Khadija Ajmal of Lahore, Pakistan, and Jiajia Qu of Chuzhou, China—were honored with the Poster Presentation Award based on their overall presentation and the clarity, strength of design and implications of their research. They won $1,000 each to support future conference attendance.

Part of the Operations Management and Strategy Department, Ajmal presented her research on plastic recycling, showing how Chinese import restrictions and other economic factors have severely reduced plastic recycling in the U.S. and created a need for policies to revive the industry. She partnered with UB RENEW on the study, which was commissioned by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

In her research, Qu, from the Management Science and Systems Department, investigated how accountable care organizations could improve outcomes and reduce costs by better coordinating with physicians and incentivizing patients.

Judges for the research poster competition were Kelly Ahuna, director of UB’s Office of Academic Integrity, and Christopher J. Deline, MD, clinical assistant professor of neurology in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.

The UB School of Management is recognized for its emphasis on real-world learning, community and economic impact, and the global perspective of its faculty, students and alumni. The school also has been ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes and U.S. News & World Report for the quality of its programs and the return on investment it provides its graduates. For more information about the UB School of Management, visit

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Matthew Biddle
Assistant Director of Communications
School of Management