Babson College Associate Professor Davit Khachatryan had finished describing Playmeans, a new app he created that uses hit songs by chart-toppers such as The Weeknd and The Beatles to teach students about data analytics, when his audience demanded an encore.
“Data science has been becoming more popular over the years, and there has been a pronounced need for a more student-centered approach to building a curriculum that is engaging, accessible, and culturally relevant,” Khachatryan told his peers last Friday.
Khachatryan was one of dozens of Babson professors who presented research during Babson’s Faculty Research Day, an event to showcase ongoing research at Babson and encourage collaboration among the College’s thought leaders.
Fellow faculty members cheered Khachatryan’s research, adding that they’d love to check out the app for themselves. President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD, who sat in on the presentations, lauded Khachatryan’s work and his passion.
“Your energy, by the way, it’s just terrific,” Spinelli said, later telling faculty members that sitting in on research day was like “attending a master class.”
“Faculty Research Day connects faculty from across campus, offering us new opportunities for collaboration while showcasing the diversity of the research and scholarship at Babson College,” Spinelli told faculty members later in the day. “It’s been a stunning display of research and intellectual acuity.”
For Kent Jones, a professor of economics, the day was sentimental amid the quick-fire presentations and varied research topics.
“I guess I’m old school, but gathering in person, getting together, and having people talk about their research and field questions, it’s one of the things I like most about being an academic,” Jones said.
The event was Jones’ last research day as a member of the Babson faculty. He is retiring this year after starting his career at Babson in 1982. Much of his work has focused on the World Health Organization, and his research presentation looked at whether a global treaty of agreed-upon rules among countries could prevent or shorten the next pandemic.
“The idea of having a global pandemic treaty is probably not possible in the absence of a world government, but in the meantime perhaps, we can build on smaller agreements,” Jones said.
COVID-19 also was a research touchstone for Ellie Kyung, an associate professor of marketing and one of 19 new faculty hires at Babson. Kyung is researching potential connections between political identity and perceived risk, seeking to explain why people who identify as conservative and security-focused would eschew safety measures such as wearing a mask.
“Perception of risk is not something that’s purely objective,” Kyung explained. “It’s something that can be affected by your perception of risk depending on what identity is salient to you at the time.”
The research is part of Kyung’s academic focus on behavioral decision making, and understanding how an individual’s mental representation can be shaped by the way questions are asked, and the way the multiple choice answers are worded.
‘An Increase in Quality’
Other research topics included cryptocurrency, digital evolution, entrepreneurial leadership, and innovation, which faculty members discussed in 12-minute presentations followed by a five-minute question-and-answer session.
Associate Professor of Management Gaurab Bhardwaj, who presented research on two topics, said he was glad to see Spinelli on hand for the faculty-focused day.
“It’s wonderful to see him show support,” Bhardwaj said. “It’s always nice to see what everyone’s working on.”
The sixth annual research day had topics that varied from home prices in Newton to toxic communication among accounting academia, but Professor of Business Analytics Rick Cleary did note a common theme.
“These sessions always have very loose themes, and while the traditional seminar deals with what professors have been working on, this one has been about what you all want to be working on,” Cleary said. His presentation was on a topic he had discussed during research day in 2019, which compared methods of measurement across sports and medicine.
And, whether faculty members discussed wins above replacement in baseball or the invasion of the garlic mustard plant species, the research topics and the faculty itself has improved immensely, Jones said.
“It’s been incredible to see such an increase in quality,” Jones said. “Looks like I’m leaving the place in good hands.”
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