The Haslam College of Business’ Department of Business Analytics and Statistics launched a new scholarship program this fall, granting undergraduate students funding and faculty support for original research. Six seniors will receive $1,700 each, per semester, and a designated faculty mentor as the inaugural group of Melton Scholars.
“This type of pairing is relatively rare at UT,” said Adam Petrie, a lecturer in business analytics and the program’s faculty lead. “We’re trying to engage undergraduate students in pivotal research of their own design that can help inform or inspire study that our faculty is doing.”
Students will work throughout the year with the goal of submitting a paper to an academic journal, presenting at a major conference or converting their findings into new classroom instruction. Participants receive course credit, but the program primarily aims to engage accomplished students in research earlier in their academic career.
“Having a published academic paper or presenting at a national conference usually doesn’t happen until students are pursuing or have received a graduate degree,” Petrie said. “This opportunity is made possible because of the commitment of our faculty and the support of George Melton.”
Melton, who graduated in 1967 with a bachelor’s in statistics from the University of Tennessee, worked in the aerospace and defense industry for 43 years and held multiple executive positions.
Melton Scholar recipients were chosen based on their aptitude in business analytics courses, post-graduate goals and research interests. Candidates underwent an application and interview process during the spring, and awards were announced at the end of the semester. This year’s Melton Scholars and their projects are:
Elizabeth Nichols, majoring in statistics and minoring in business administration and leadership studies, will work with Wenjun Zhou on the properties of large-scale, market-basket datasets to identify correlation of items purchased together and potentially improve online merchants’ product recommendations.
Isaac Edmiston, majoring in statistics and economics, will be working with William Seaver on a project in time-series analytics.
Joseph Trice, an accounting and finance major, will be working with Bogdan Bichescu on a project focused on healthcare analytics, developing models that examine the association between physician workload and hospital operational performance and quality of care.
Nainika Sudheendra, a supply chain and business analytics major, will be working with Sean Willems on a project examining two years of retail data to determine how stock outs proliferate.
Nicklaus Brown, a business analytics major, will be working with Michel Ballings on a project involving data from the popular social media app Foursquare, which uses crowdsourcing reviews to recommend fun and interesting things to do based on a user's location.
Thao Tran, majoring in mathematics and statistics, will work alongside Michel Ballings and Julie Ferrara on research evaluating the quality scores of Google AdWords to clarify its scoring algorithm and help advertisers improve results and reduce the price they pay to advertise on Google.
The Melton Scholars will begin taking applications for the 2018 cohort in January. More information is available on the Department of Business Analytics and Statistics website.