World Class Faculty & Research / August 21, 2023

New Faculty Strengthen Smith’s ‘Grand Challenges’ Strategy

Balaji Padmanabhan is among the earliest professors to bring machine learning into an MBA program. Sining Song’s research explores environmental-to-fintech-related factors in supply chain sustainability. And Agustin Hurtado recently analyzed 87 million minority-borrower accounts in a study showing minority bank ownership reduces information frictions and improves credit allocations.

These professors are among the nine new tenure-track faculty members and three full time professional track faculty joining the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business this fall.

“Our arriving faculty, collectively, reinforce the Smith School’s strategic plan on addressing grand challenges — and its guiding principles that start with ‘business is everybody’s business.’” says Dean Prabhudev Konana. “Business problem-solving is critical in the face of increasingly disruptive forces across industries and career fields that have economic and social implications. We’re tapping expertise on key issues such as ‘equitable growth and lending,’ ‘AI bias and reducing misinformation,’ ‘influence of political polarization on businesses,’ ‘environmental and governance disclosure,’ ‘sustainable supply chains,” and ‘embracing demographic diversity within organizations.’”

Smith’s newest faculty are:

Reuben Hurst, soon to be a tenure-track assistant professor, is completing a joint PhD in Strategy and Political Science at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on how employers adjust recruiting strategies in response to growing demographic diversity and political polarization and how these strategies contribute to labor market segregation by gender, race, and political partisanship. His work is forthcoming in Administrative Science Quarterly and the Journal of Politics and has received best paper awards from the Academy of Management, Strategic Management Society and Strategy Science conferences. He also is a Strategic Research Foundation Dissertation Scholar and a recipient of a Knowledge Grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Agustin Hurtado, assistant professor of finance, focuses his research on financial and labor markets for immigrant, low-income, and minority households and entrepreneurs. With a PhD from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, his most recent work studies the effect of racial minority bank ownership on minority credit in the U.S. His other current work involves policy-relevant research in Banking, Corporate/Household/Entrepreneurial Finance, and Real Estate.

Eaman Jahani, arriving in January 2024 as an assistant professor for the DOIT from the UC Berkeley Department of Statistics, describes his research interest as “understanding how social networks and online platforms affect a wide range of outcomes and how they can lead to unequal distribution of resources, using tools from network science and causal inference". He holds a PhD in Social and Engineering Systems with a secondary degree in Statistics from MIT.

Balaji Padmanabhan, professor of information systems, designed one of the first technology-focused electives ("Enabling Technologies") for an MBA program while at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business. With a PhD from New York University’s Stern School of Business, he brings expertise in AI, machine learning and business analytics from 25 years of research, teaching and working extensively with businesses. Konana recently described Padmanabhan as poised to “strengthen our research and focus on developing future leaders in a changing world driven by artificial intelligence and grand challenges like AI bias and ‘dis/misinformation.’” Padmanabhan, he added, “not only bolsters our information systems faculty with a highly accomplished scholar and industry consultant, but also positions Smith’s MBA and MS curricula to be transformational by contextualizing AI for the future.”

Jingyi Qian, assistant professor of accounting and information assurance, arrives with a PhD from Emory University's Goizueta Business School. Her research focuses on financial reporting, big data and the cryptocurrency market. Her current work includes a working paper, “The Value of Auditor Assurance in Cryptocurrecy Trading,” and she recently published “The Benefits of Transaction-Level Data: The Case of Nielsen IQ Scanner Data” in The Journal of Accounting and Economics.

Aneesh Rai, assistant professor of management and organization, received his PhD in Operations, Information and Decisions from the Wharton School. His research examines how perceptions of group diversity affect personnel selection decisions and influence how diverse organizations become. He also uses large-scale field experiments to test interventions to promote positive behavior change in organizations. He recently published A Field Experiment on Subgoal Framing to Boost Volunteering in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

Joseph Reiff, assistant professor of marketing, researches decision-making, social cognition, and policy design — with an “overarching goal to help organizations identify and implement policies that improve individuals’ well-being at scale.” He holds a PhD in behavioral decision-making from the UCLA Anderson School of Management, has received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, and has worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Sining Song, assistant professor of supply chain management, returns to Smith where she completed her master’s in supply chain management, followed by a PhD from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. Her research has drawn best paper awards from the Decision Sciences Institute, as she focuses on sustainable supply chain and operations management, mobile network and FinTech and innovation and technology management. In 2023 she published research in Production and Operations Management proposing a novel perspective on understanding carbon leakage in supply chains through supply chain optimization and innovation.

Mark Zakota, assistant professor of accounting and information assurance, holds a PhD from the University of Florida's Warrington College of Business. His dissertation, titled “EPA Scrutiny and Voluntary Environmental Disclosures,” reflects his focus on corporate disclosures and regulatory issues. Prior to his PhD, Zakota studied international business and politics at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. His research explores disclosures, standard setting, and ESG through the use of natural language processing, machine learning, and XBRL.

In addition, Michael Cichello, joins Smith as a clinical professor of finance and Academic Director of the Master of Finance and Master of Quantitative Finance programs. His research explores managerial incentives, the relationship between executive pay and performance, and financial contracting. As a valuation expert, he has worked with thousands of executives to examine avenues for value creation at their firms.

Arriving from the Indian School of Business as a visiting assistant professor of finance, Apoorva Javadekar has served as Research Director at Reserve Bank of India's "Centre for Advanced Financial Research and Learning", and presently serves on the Security and Exchange Board of India’s Research Advisory Committee. His research focuses on the mutual fund industry, banking and international economics."

Margaret Malewski becomes a Department of Management and Organization lecturer with a focus on the Smith Business Leadership Fellows program. Working in 11 countries, she was co-founder and CEO of a tech startup, brand manager for a multinational and executive director of a nonprofit. She also published “GenXpat: The Young Professional's Guide to Making a Successful Life Abroad” and has taught university-level intercultural studies, designed interiors and buildings as an architect, and developed commercial real estate for preschools.

And Assistant Clinical Professor of Finance Terrence O’Brien arrives from Penn State’s Smeal College of Business where he recently earned his PhD in Finance. He studies empirical asset pricing specializing in fintech, cryptocurrency and machine learning. His current work examines cryptocurrency exchanges manipulating trade volume and how it works to create false signals and risk to investors, as well as a negative impact on the overall market quality and investor confidence. He has taught an Options and Derivatives course for many years and was an executive for a private American company specializing in buying and selling Chinese government data.

Read more about Faculty and Research at the Robert H. Smith School of Business.

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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