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New Year Brings Well-Deserved News for Marshall Professors

New Year Brings Well-Deserved News for Marshall Professors

Nine individuals promoted in January 2024 announcements.

Color outdoor photograph depicting Marshall School of Business signage at Bridge Hall

Marshall School of Business Celebrates New Faculty Promotions [USC Photo]

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The new year brings a new beginning for nine Marshall professors who received the exciting news of promotions. These individuals have been recognized for their excellence in service, teaching, and/or research. Beyond their academic record, they have also exhibited dedication and commitment to the school and university as student advisors, faculty mentors, committee members, published authors, journal editors, and industry consultants, among many other roles that utilize their skills and expertise.

We congratulate these professors on their well-deserved promotions and contributions to USC Marshall:

JACOB BIEN, Professor of Data Sciences and Operations (with tenure)
Bien joined Marshall as an assistant professor of data sciences and operations in 2017 and was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2019. Bien’s research utilizes state-of-the-art optimization tools to create flexible, computationally scalable statistical methods capable of handling massive datasets while maintaining interpretability and grounding in theory. In addition, his research post tenure increasingly aligns with practical applications, such as oceanography and COVID-19. He led a Simons Foundation-funded project on biogeochemical modeling and contributed to a CDC Influenza Forecasting Center from 2020 to 2022. He also develops tools to address research replication issues.

Bien is a committed and innovative educator, engaging with students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. At the undergraduate level, he introduced an advanced version of the core statistics course tailored to the current Big Data landscape, receiving high praise and gaining significant popularity, as recognized in a POETS & QUANTS article in February 2022. On the graduate level, he is actively exploring the integration of AI platforms to enhance content and methodologies for a more enriching learning experience. Notably, he also co-teaches a core statistics course, experimenting with Github Copilot, a language model designed to generate code, to further optimize the learning process and enable students to deploy more advanced statistical tools without having to learn to code. Bien is a successful mentor who advised or co-advised multiple graduate and postdoctoral students.

Bien’s service to the department, university, and the broader profession is highly commendable and includes serving as an associate editor for several prestigious statistics journals, developing and teaching micro-seminars on statistics to incoming USC undergraduate students, serving on committees for faculty hiring, PhD admissions at USC Marshall, and on Marshall’s Research and Faculty Recognition committee.

MLADEN KOLAR, Professor of Data Sciences and Operations (with tenure)
Kolar is a highly productive researcher working in statistics and the broader area of data science. His research encompasses a diverse range of disciplines, spanning statistics, machine learning, and operations research. He is best known for his research on dynamic networks and probabilistic graphical models. His recent contribution in this area focused on the quantification of uncertainty in the estimation of edge parameters in high-dimensional graphical models. His research has been published in top-tier journals and conference venues, including the Annals of Statistics (AOS), Journal of the American Statistical Association (JASA), Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series B (JRSSB), Biometrika, Journal of Machine Learning Research (JMLR), Mathematical Programming, Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS), and International Conference of Machine Learning (ICML). He was awarded a prestigious Facebook Fellowship in 2010 for his work on machine learning and network models. Also, he received the 2014 SIGKDD Dissertation Award (Honorable Mention).

He has also made significant contributions to mentoring students, guiding numerous thesis projects, and supervising PhD candidates and postdocs. Externally, Kolar engages in professional service through editorial roles in renowned journals. Notably, since the beginning of 2021, he has been the acting editor for the Journal of Machine Learning Research and an associate editor for the Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics and The New England Journal of Statistics in Data Science. He also serves as an area chair for major conferences, such as NeurIPS (2018–2023), ICML (2014, 2015, 2020, 2021), and AISTATS (2016, 2017, 2019–2023).

KEVIN FIELDS, Clinical Professor of Finance and Business Economics
Since 2019, Fields has been a clinical associate professor in the department of finance and business economics, serving previously as a clinical assistant professor (2013–2019), lecturer (2012–2013), and adjunct professor (2011–2012). Each semester, Field’s classes — in the area of business law — are filled to capacity with students drawn to his passion, clarity, and ability to tie legal concepts to everyday settings. Fields is a four-time Golden Apple Award recipient, a winner of the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence, and a Gamma Sigma Alpha Professor of the Year.

Fields currently serves as the academic director of the Masters in Business for Veterans (MBV) program, a position he has held since 2019. He is recognized for his ability to connect with a varied student body and confidently oversees a program full of students who have exacting standards for their leaders. Among many other departmental, school, and university service roles, he also serves as the chair of Marshall’s Research, Teaching, Practitioner, and Clinical Track (RTPC) committee.

RAHSAN AKBULUT, Clinical Professor of Finance and Business Economics
Akbulut is a microeconomist who has served Marshall as a clinical associate professor since 2019, previously as a clinical assistant professor (2013–2019) and lecturer (2011–2013). From 2015 to 2020, Akbulut served as academic director of Master of Science in Finance (MSF), leading the program through a period of remarkable growth and improvement in quality, and developed a strong positive program culture. Program successes include increasing the class size from 35 to 131 students, securing STEM designation, and introducing a progressive degree program. Akbulut received the Golden Apple Award from the undergraduate class of 2016.

Her teaching concerns the area of microeconomics, primarily in undergraduate and MBA.PM core courses. She has been active in MBA.PM as well as PM GLOBE, the program’s capstone project-based class and international field study. She led the recent Madrid trip and is preparing to lead next year’s trip to Hong Kong. Since 2021, Akbulut has been the academic director of the MBA.PM program and was instrumental in facilitating curriculum changes, implementing peer academic support, and obtaining STEM designation. Starting in 2022, she additionally took on the role of associate vice dean of graduate programs. In this position, Akbulut oversees eight different specialized master’s programs, working closely with academic directors on issues ranging from admissions to graduation. Overall, Akbulut’s contributions to strengthening Marshall's graduate programs have been impactful, and she has played an important role in the school’s recent successes.

FENG CHEN, Associate Professor of Clinical Data Sciences and Operations
Chen received her MBA and PhD degrees from Marshall in 2003 and 2008, respectively. She started her teaching career as an adjunct faculty member (2009–2018), followed by a role as a full-time lecturer (2018–2019). Since fall 2019, she has held the position of assistant professor of clinical data sciences and operations. During her time at Marshall, Chen has taught a range of both undergraduate and graduate courses, demonstrating her versatility and expertise across multiple domains to ensure an enriching educational experience for all students, intertwining theoretical foundations with practical application by integrating real-world data analytics and fostering an advanced understanding of business statistics through real projects and substantial hands-on experience.

An academic advisor for her students, Feng also extends her mentorship skills among colleagues and the broader academic and professional communities. Notably, she serves as an advisor for the Business Analytics Emphasis, where her guidance reaches undergraduate students, including those outside Marshall and USC. In her role as the Flipped Instructional Course Design Team Lead for BUAD 425, Feng showcased leadership by collaborating with the teaching team to develop a comprehensive course plan. Her expertise also extends to consulting projects for the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach, where she co-led and facilitated effective communication between student teams and various stakeholders. She is an active member of the MSGSCM Admission Committee and GSCM Scholarship Committee, and has served on the RTPC Faculty Committee since 2021.

YIJIA (VERONICA) GUO, Associate Professor of Clinical Business Communication
Prior to joining Marshall in 2017 as an assistant professor of clinical business communication, Guo held program and event coordinator positions in Chinese and U.S. multinational companies, specializing in intercultural business communication and exchange. Since joining Marshall, she has created learning environments that promote growth mindsets and inspire innovation across both the undergraduate and graduate programs. Her own research has contributed to her classroom success; Guo has published five peer-reviewed articles, including top-tier publications, with a sixth currently under review. In addition, her research has produced a book chapter case study, and she served as the co-author and translator (from English to Chinese) for communication expert Dr. Gail Fairhurst’s highly successful book, The Power of Framing. At Marshall, Guo has represented her field of business communication at Marshall’s Junior Faculty Research Fair and produced a TOMMY TALK. She has presented seven papers at conferences, including the National Communication Association (NCA), the International Communication Association (ICA), and the Association for Business Communication (ABC).

Guo serves the entire university community through her participation in the Marshall Committee on Research and Faculty Recognition, Marshall Undergraduate Program Committee; USC RTPC Faculty Affairs Committee; USC Renaissance Scholar Application Review Committee; as well as serving as a mentor and coach for Marshall Case Competitions. Further, she has served as a faculty coach for the International Education and Research MBA (IBEAR) and a faculty mentor for the Marshall First-Year Experience and USC Undergraduate Research Associates programs.

ANDREW (AJ) OGILVIE, Associate Professor of Clinical Business Communication
Prior to joining Marshall in 2017 as an assistant professor of business communication, Ogilvie served as a lecturer at Loyola Marymount University and UCLA. Before his career in academia, he worked in strategic communications at Booz Allen Hamilton, where he developed stakeholder outreach initiatives for the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security.

While at Marshall, Ogilvie has established a dedicated record of teaching, innovation, service, and scholarship. Teaching in both the undergraduate and graduate programs, he has created two new courses, including BUAD 105: The Marshall Experience, and his successful new elective, BUCO 499: Strategic Communication in ESG. He has been recognized with a Teaching and Writing Award from USC Dornsife and recognized by Dean Geoff Garrett for exemplary performance and contribution. Ogilvie also serves as the course coordinator for WRIT 340: Advanced Writing for Business and the faculty lead in the full-time MBA program for the capstone course, GSBA-552: Problem Solving and Decision Making. As a member of the Undergraduate (UG) Curriculum Committee since 2021, he has played a key role in advising and shepherding new courses for undergraduate students, working with colleagues across the other six departments as well as with Marshall leadership. He has also played important roles as a member of the Merit Scholar Panel and the Critical Thinking Initiative at Marshall. Collectively, these roles speak to his ability to reach across departments and work with colleagues in leadership roles to serve his department, as well as Marshall and USC.

LARS PERNER, Associate Professor of Clinical Marketing
Perner earned a PhD in Marketing from Marshall in 1998 and was appointed assistant professor of clinical marketing in 2006. During his time at Marshall, he has served on several of Marshall’s international experiential programs, including the Learning about International Commerce (LINC) program for undergraduates and the PM Globe program for MBA students. Perner’s major teaching responsibility has been to teach BUAD 307: Marketing Fundamentals, the core marketing class in the undergraduate curriculum, while also serving as its course coordinator for 15 years. He has also taught the undergraduate elective MKT 450: Consumer Behavior and Marketing. His classes rigorously integrate current marketing theory and frameworks and employ a variety of teaching approaches to keep students engaged and interested. Perner is a four-time Golden Apple Award recipient.

Perner has made significant and valued service contributions to Marshall and the university. He has been an active member of the Joint Academic Senate/Provost’s Committee on Information Services (CIS) for six years and has chaired several task forces on this committee. Over the years, he has mentored several new faculty members, freely sharing course materials, teaching tips, and information resources. Most recently, he has been involved with the USC-wide “LMS Champions” to help the university transition from one learning management system to another.

ARIANNA UHALDE, Associate Professor of Clinical Marketing
Uhalde earned a PhD in Marketing from Marshall in 2017. She served as an adjunct professor in the marketing department (2017–2019) and was appointed assistant professor of clinical marketing in 2019. A successful teacher passionate about sharing her knowledge with students, Uhalde creates an inclusive and supportive classroom environment that emphasizes experiential learning activities. She has taught several established marketing courses in the undergraduate curriculum and has introduced two new undergraduate electives in the past four years. Both MKT 404: Happiness and Well-being in the Marketplace and MKT 479: Sports Marketing have attracted large numbers of students and are a permanent part of the curriculum.

Uhalde has made significant service contributions to the marketing department, Marshall, and USC. Since 2020, she has served as the marketing department’s representative on the UG Curriculum Committee, and for the past year, she has served as the assistant chair of the department. In this role, she has spearheaded curriculum development and reform and helped recruit and onboard new faculty. She serves as the marketing and philanthropy advisor for the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and has been the director of research and impact at USC Athletics since 2019. Through these activities and others, Uhalde continues to conduct active research focusing on topics related to how marketing and experiential consumption shape individuals’ health and well-being, and how marketers and policymakers can work together to encourage healthy consumer behaviors.