COLLEGE OF BUSINESS
Faculty Research Spotlights
Faculty within the College of Business are some of the nation’s highest caliber of research and teaching professors. Our faculty have conducted innovative and groundbreaking research that garners international recognition. They also are superb teachers dedicated to transferring their knowledge to the next generation of business leaders. Read some of their stories below.
Dr. Bill McCumber, JPJ Investments Endowed Professor of Finance
What do Wall Street, CrossFit and Vikings have in common? If you guessed Dr. Bill McCumber, you would be correct.
“The SMIF is an opportunity that few people—even in the real world—would ever experience. It bridges the gap between ‘theory’ and ‘practice,’ allowing students to build and articulate demonstrable, professional, real-world experience. In other words, they get enviable ‘first’ jobs because they already have this job,” said McCumber. “They also, importantly, emerge from real money management with an appreciation for and understanding of how empiricists view the world. They are critical thinkers who know that ultimately, you need to make a decision—an educated one—and be held accountable for that decision.”
McCumber considers the course one of his favorites to teach, though he’s quick to point out that it’s not, by design, a traditional class. “If a typical classroom experience is PowerPoint slides, a textbook, and tests, this is the other end of the spectrum,” McCumber said. “This is experience with professional, real-time data, and tools, making analyses and decisions that have immediate and long-term, real-world consequences measured in real dollars.”
Outside the classroom, McCumber focuses his research on financial networks — how firms, people, and finance are all connected. The former wealth manager uses a supercomputer built for this research to investigate, for example, how and why a hedge fund failure on Wall Street causes a global panic and losses of jobs on Main Street.
“Finance research involving networks is in its infancy,” McCumber explained. “I’m borrowing methodology from physics, bioinformatics, neuroscience, mathematics, and computer science, and mixing these together (via complex coding on the LONI supercomputers) with economics and finance to visualize these and test numerous hypotheses that are important not only to central bankers, but to mom and pop.”
He also owns Ruston’s Catahoula CrossFit along with a group of friends he met through the high-intensity fitness program that has swept the nation. He is a competitive CrossFit athlete, Certified Level 1 Trainer, and USAW Sports Performance Coach.
McCumber is consistently recognized for inspiring students in the classroom, and, through his work as a CrossFit coach, athletes in the gym. He builds relationship, so it’s no wonder that intertwines with his research.
“Networks are everywhere. Relationships between people, companies, banks, etc. are important on a micro level, that is, to the individuals involved, but also to the entire network,” said McCumber. “All relationships between all actors, when aggregated, become the network. Relationships change. So networks change, too, over time. Networks are good…and bad. Good in that networks help us find and process information (as in: hey friends, do you have a recommendation for a contractor? What is the best school for my child? Whom do you trust to be your realtor?); bad in that they can enable criminal activity, protect bad players, (think black markets and the mob), and can bring about systemic collapse when there’s a significant shock (financial crisis).”
His work is to define what those complex, inter-temporal financial networks and relationships mean for us.
Oh, and the whole Viking thing? Like any good Norseman, he makes mead—the drink of the gods.
Dr. Michele Maasberg, Herbert McElveen Endowed Professor and Assistant Professor
Service. It’s what drives Dr. Michele Maasberg. In fact, the former naval officer was busy answering questions for this story from 32,000 feet while traveling to an information systems conference where she served as chair for a workshop track.
Maasberg graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and entered flight training, finishing first in her advanced helicopter flight school class. During her service, she accumulated more than 2,500 flight hours, reporting for fleet service to Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Three (HS-3) and flying antisubmarine and combat search and rescue missions in Kosovo, Iraq, the Persian Gulf, and Haiti as well as numerous exercises and deployments in the Atlantic theater of operations.
After serving a tour as a flight instructor at Naval Air Station Pensacola, she reported for final assignment as Air Officer of Amphibious Squadron Two where she worked closely with Marine and Allied units to coordinate air operations.
“I was inspired to go into the military to serve our country, and I was inspired to go into the field of cyber security to serve our country,” said Maasberg. “A common theme for me with these two areas has been risk analysis and incident response.”
After retiring from the Navy, Massberg worked for the U.S. government as a civilian in technology and information assurance with both the Navy and U.S. Army. She went on to earn her M.S. with a concentration in information assurance and a Ph.D. in business information technology with a special interest in cyber security.
Today, she serves as the Herbert McElveen Endowed Professor and Assistant Professor in Louisiana Tech’s College of Business, where she conducts cybersecurity research — insider threats, data breaches, and malware.
“My primary research area is regarding malicious insider threats, most specifically sabotage — trying to understand who the bad actors are, when and why they attack organizational assets and data, and what mitigation strategies are available to organizations regarding these types of attacks,” said Maasberg, who noted she is most interested in the malicious actors because they can cause the highest level of damage in organizations.
“The technical side involves investigating improvements to a new technical systems to detect actions of these individuals before an incident, and the behavioral side is to detect the types of individuals who continue to circumvent the novel technical systems designed to detect their actions.”
Her research and teaching is supplemented by Tech’s close proximity to Barksdale Air Force Base, government contractors, and liaisons — making for real-world impact and application for students. She views this, along with the College of Business’ designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense and Research by NSA and DHS, as “an opportunity to contribute to national security through a legacy of the students and research.”
One way Maasberg does this is through her Security Risk Analysis course that allows students to collaborate with local organizations to help identify potential risks.
“One of the best moments so far at Louisiana Tech was watching the Winter 2018 CIS 524/424 class present their final projects of actual risk analyses with outside organizations,” she said. “It became apparent the transformative relationships that had taken place with our students and the community as local organizations were able to improve their security posture and the students enhance their skills and professionalism.”
For Maasberg, it has been an honor to serve the country. Now, she serves the students of Louisiana Tech by encouraging them to decide what their dream careers are.
“If they do that, and work hard toward their goals with a single minded focus with personal integrity, then they will never ‘work’ a day in their lives (because they do what they love). If it happens to be technology (especially cyber security), then Louisiana Tech University is the place to be and the possibilities are infinite.”
Dr. Kevin Watson, Jack & Peggy Byrd Endowed Professor, Assistant Professor
For Dr. Kevin Watson, it’s the hands-on approach of Louisiana Tech that appeals to him most. He and fellow faculty member Dr. Tony Inman apply that approach on a daily basis with their sustainable supply chain management students.
“It is amazing what a few words can do,” said Watson. “I’ve had students come in to discuss a specific grade and we end up talking about the life skills they need to excel in the future—things like asserting themselves in groups, asking more questions, or graduate school admissions (and how to pay for it). I had a student that came in to discuss his multiple job offers and how to possibly pick one of the jobs. I’ve had students (and parents) write an email or letter thanking me for an experience.”
Watson noted that some of the time those letters start with “I didn’t like…” or “I didn’t appreciate it at the time…”
“Then something clicked at work and they understood why we do some of the things we do, and they appreciate it,” he said. “I met a former student who now works for Walmart to discuss a project he was working on. The way he took ideas we had discussed in the classroom and logically connected them with ideas from other classes and his work in order to craft a solution to the project was brilliant. He is going to be a rock star and shoot up the corporate ladder; one day he’ll be running at least part of the show.”
Providing students with opportunities for quality placements after graduation is central to Watson’s work, and the agility the supply chain management faculty have allows them to make changes to course curriculum as employer demands change.
“Our curriculum is demanding because our students are learning valuable skills based on what employers need. We are constantly receiving and incorporating feedback from employers and alumni into the curriculum to ensure that the courses we teach reflect the skills employers need,” said Watson, who noted he and Inman work constantly expose students to new opportunities.
The duo has taken supply chain students to numerous distribution facilities and manufacturing plants across the South—a tactic that builds on Inman’s legacy of working diligently to establish strong ties with employer partners.
It is clear that employers recognize and value this, a direct benefit to students in the program.
“We’ve been able to grow the major because students value the quality placements—Walmart, Amazon, International Paper, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, etc.—both in terms of the companies recruiting our majors and the starting salaries our graduates are receiving,” said Watson.
Outside of his teaching responsibilities, Watson’s research focuses on supply chain information security, sustainability, and the Theory of Constraints (TOC), a topic that first garnered his interest as an MBA student because it had clear real-world problem-solving applications.
“I had a professor who made us read The Goal, a great book about the TOC,” said Watson. “The same professor brought in manufacturing executives to speak to our student APICS chapter. There was a problem involving Walmart, paint brushes, and distribution—I thought about the problem from a TOC perspective and came up with a novel solution.”
Watson presented that solution to a transportation company, which asked how they would sell it to their customers. “I didn’t know how to sell something where the benefits seemed so self-evident, so I ended up at the University of Georgia to study TOC and that solution became my dissertation.”
He also partners with College of Business faculty outside of the management department to develop relevant research—like his concept called Constraint Based Allocation with Dr. John Lauck, an assistant professor in the School of Accountancy.
“Every company has to have some means to establish product costs and to analyze process improvement projects,” said Watson. “Right now, the alternatives are expensive and/or inaccurate causing managers to make poor decisions. If our solution works, as we believe it will, it will provide accurate information at fairly low cost.”
Louisiana Tech is the best of both the teaching and research worlds for Watson, and he is proud of what the sustainable supply chain management program has grown into over the past few years.
“There is a very high level of teaching and we are very involved with our students, really hands on; I know most of our supply chain majors just by sight,” he said. “There are a lot of smart researchers to bounce ideas off, we have enough resources to provide our students with an excellent education, and we have enough support to help those students find great opportunities when starting their career.”
Dr. Julie Moulard, Balsley-Whitmore Endowed Professor, Associate Professor of Marketing
When she joined the faculty at Louisiana Tech University more than seven years ago, Dr. Julie Moulard knew she would have the chance to impact students at each level of higher education. It was the opportunity to teach and mentor doctoral students, though, that appealed to her most.
“While nearly all business schools have undergraduate programs and most have an MBA program, relatively few have doctoral programs,” said Moulard, who is currently supervising her first two dissertations. “It’s very gratifying to have such a huge positive impact on someone’s life and career. I expect to be life-long colleagues and friends with all of our doctoral students and routinely reunite with former students at conferences.”
The Associate Professor of Marketing and Balsley-Whitmore Endowed Professor also makes an enormous impact on students through her coordination of “Bulldogs in Paris,” the College of Business’ study abroad program. She considers watching students mature during the eight-day excursion some of her most memorable moments.
“The students quickly realize that the way something is done in the U.S. is not the only way—and sometimes not the best way! They better appreciate others’ differences and, thus, become more humble and empathetic,” she said. “More importantly, students gain tremendous confidence and a strong sense of independence. Navigating another culture can be really intimidating—new place, new language, new food, etc. The realization that you not only can get by—but also can thrive—is enlightening. Their new-found confidence and independence often drive students to seek out opportunities they would have never considered possible.”
Dr. Moulard, along with Professor of Marketing and Department Chair Dr. Barry Babin, take students to visit businesses in Paris and Reims — locations like Pommery Champagne House and Lesage, an embroidery company that is a supplier for luxury brands like Chanel. Students also attend lectures at IÉSEG School of Management and take several pre-trip classes to prepare and learn international business concepts and trends.
Back stateside, Dr. Moulard conducts research focusing on the authenticity of products and brands.
“The notion of ‘being authentic’ is a hot catchphrase in business,” she said. “Most people have general notions about what it means, but no one has really been able to pin it down.”
Dr. Moulard suggests there are three types of authenticity, noting each is important for increasing consumers’ perceptions of quality, satisfaction, and trust in the brand.
“True-to-fact authenticity is about being honest and transparent versus deceitful,” she said. “True-to-ideal authenticity is about being consistent — like a brand sticking to the same recipe, design, or product category. True-to-self is my favorite of the three and the one I research the most. It’s about being passionate about what you do versus doing something for the money or prestige. Brands that are true-to-self authentic are run by people that are committed and devoted; they don’t ‘sell out.’”
Her research has been published in numerous academic journals including the Journal of Business Research, Psychology, & Marketing, the International Journal of Advertising, the Journal of Marketing Education, and the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science.
The latter — which was recently ranked the No. 1 academic journal in marketing — is published by the Academy of Marketing Science, one of the top organizations for marketing academics. In June, Moulard began a two-year term as president-elect of this prestigious organization. In addition to publishing JAMS and AMS Review, the Academy hosts two conferences per year — one in North America and one internationally.
“Prior to serving as president-elect, I was vice president for programs for four years,” said Dr. Moulard. “That position entailed overseeing the AMS North American conferences and was extremely demanding. I am happy I’ve moved on to a less-demanding position! I am also very grateful and blessed that my colleagues have entrusted me to lead the organization as it celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2021.”
Her leadership among the best in the field also allows for a spotlight to shine on Tech’s marketing program. With an undergraduate degree, MBA and Doctor of Business Administration, the College works to influence the world of marketing in a significant way by producing well-prepared graduates.
“Our marketing analytics concentration is really unique, and graduates with a marketing analytics focus will be in high demand,” said Dr. Moulard. “So much data is being collected about consumers through their activity on the internet and through smart devices like phones and fitness trackers. Marketers can use this data to customize products, improve consumers’ experiences, and tailor promotions.”
From Ruston to Paris and the world over, Dr. Moulard’s focus on authenticity — in her research, in her leadership, in her teaching — impacts the field and beyond, just as she impacts her students each day.
Dr. Jake Lee, Clifford Ray King Endowed Professor, Assistant Professor of Computer Information Systems
Dr. Lee comes to the College from the University of Texas San Antonio, and holds a Ph.D in Management Science and Systems from the State University of New York at Buffalo. As a Professor, his passion for cyber security and research has sparked interest among fellow colleagues and students.
We sat down to speak with Dr. Lee to learn more about his background, research and his experiences here at the College of Business. Take a look.
What is your title at the College of Business at Louisiana Tech University?
I am an Assistant Professor (Clifford Ray King Endowed Professor) of Computer Information Systems in the College of Business.
What are your job responsibilities/duties?
As an Assistant Professor, I conduct research, teach classes, and do academic advising. As a researcher, I investigate multiple research topics in the area of information security, particularly in the area of behavioral information security. I also conduct research in behavior privacy related ethics and emergency response management. I teach both undergraduate and graduate level students, primarily in the area of information assurance.
What does a typical day look like?
As a faculty member, I have keep a standard schedule during the quarter. I typically arrive on campus in the morning and prepare for classes and work on research. In addition, I also attend university senate meetings to discuss university wide academic / environment issues. During school breaks, I usually attend major Information Systems conferences related to my research interests. Moreover, I participate in academic workshops to improve my knowledge that can be helpful when I teach students.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
I really enjoy communicating with my colleagues and students at Louisiana Tech. I believe that by doing it, I can learn a variety of topics that I cannot obtain from books or academic articles including extremely innovative ideas that I had not thought of before. My colleagues are always open to discuss our common interests and communicating with students is very enjoyable. In addition, conversations with them can be a good way to receive feedback regarding my classes and research.
What is the most difficult aspect of the job?
I think the most difficult aspect of my job is trying to find a good life balance. I spend a lot of time at school working and often do not take time to relax. I finally got the chance to get out to a couple of Louisiana Tech football games and support the team. Go Bulldogs!
What do you appreciate most about Louisiana Tech University?
Louisiana Tech provides me the best possible research and teaching environments. The community, including faculty members and staff as well as students are very friendly and supportive. This encourages me to concentrate on doing my research and teaching preparation. In addition, the work-related facilities including office, devices, and technical support are incredible.
Where did you receive your degrees? What was the focus of your dissertation?
I received my Ph.D. in Management Science and Systems from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2016. My dissertation title was “Three Essays on Information Issues in the Context of Crises and Insiders”. I focused on information management issues in the context of extreme events (a terrorist attack), insider threats in financial institutions and insider threats in law enforcement agencies.
Tell us about your latest research.
One of the research areas I am current working on is finding organizational environments and individual characteristics that may impact ethical concerns regarding use of newly implemented IT artifacts. The motivation of this research is that law enforcement authorities have started adopting and implementing the police Body Worn Camera. Although there are many potential advantages of this implementation, there are also potential disadvantages by adopting this IT artifact (i.e., loss of privacy to mismanagement of record etc.). This mismanagement is closely related to ethical behavior of the users. Thus, I am studying this topic to find factors that may impact law enforcement agents’ ethical concerns about using the Body Worn Camera.
What advice do you have for students interested in the CIS field?
If students are interested in the Computer Information Systems domain, this is the right time to invest your efforts. The role of Information Systems is becoming more and more crucial, as without an appropriate management of information systems, achieving organizations’ ultimate goals may be impossible. Supporting a company’s primary businesses by using/implementing information systems is critical in a current business ecosystem.
What is one thing that you know now that you wish you had known when you started in the field? When you graduated from the College?
When I graduated from college, not many people were concerned about security / privacy with regard to the use of information systems. A majority of people focused on how to generate revenue or how to use information systems to support a major business. However, as we already know, the number of negative incidents related to information security / privacy issues has been steadily increasing. Thus, I wish that I had known before I started in the field that the malicious use of information systems needed to be considered.