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Awards recognize faculty and student researchers

Posted on November 16, 2018
Award winners (from left): Paul Calluzzo, Hanna Liu, Ryan Riordan and Ning Zhang
Award winners (from left): Paul Calluzzo, Hanna Liu, Ryan Riordan and Ning Zhang

Kingston, Ont. – Ryan Riordan, Ning Zhang and Paul Calluzzo are recipients of the Smith School of Business Research Excellence Awards this year.

The three professors were recognized at a reception Nov. 7 in Goodes Hall.

Riordan received the Research Excellence Award, Calluzzo and Zhang each the New Researcher Achievement Award. Research grants were given with the awards.

The three were chosen by a committee of Smith faculty that assesses the achievements of researchers. Committee members this year were Yuri Levin, Jean-Baptiste Litrico and Veikko Thiele.

The research awards are announced every fall. They acknowledge the outstanding research done by Smith faculty.

A student, Hanna Liu, was also recognized. She received the award for PhD Student Research Excellence.

This year’s winners cover a wide area of study, from investing to corporate governance:

Ryan Riordan

Ryan Riordan studies the impact of technology on the financial sector. As an example, he once examined how automated bidders affect the behaviour of human bidders on electronic financial markets and online auctions such as eBay.

His latest work, “Price Discovery Without Trading”, delves into the world of high-frequency traders. The research, he said, “shows how financial markets work and, more specifically, who is making them work.” It will be published in the Journal of Finance.

Riordan’s interest in technology goes back to his days as a trader, writing his own programs to automate parts of his job. “I like understanding how technology works, so for me it was a natural fit to study finance and technology,” he says.

At Smith, Riordan is associate professor and Distinguished Faculty Fellow of Finance. He joined the school in 2014 from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

One thing Riordan says he especially enjoys in research is asking “the big question”, then finding the answer, no matter how long that takes. “To get the data, to see the results, after sometimes years of work, that’s the adrenaline kick,” he says.

Paul Calluzzo

Paul Calluzzo also came to Smith in 2014, after completing his PhD in finance at Rutgers University. His studies take him into the deepest corners of Wall Street, from corporate governance and proxy voting, to mutual-fund performance and institutional investing.

One of his papers, “Director Connections in the Mutual Fund Industry”, examined what influence corporate executives who sit on mutual-fund boards have on the fund’s investment decisions. His work showed that, indeed, such funds tend to invest more profitability in the executive’s own firm.

“What excites me most about research is uncovering something new and original, and the process of having an untested idea in my head and seeing if it bears out in the real world or not,” says Calluzzo, assistant professor and Distinguished Faculty Fellow of Finance.

His work has also taken him “to the intersection of politics and finance,” he says. For example, Calluzzo and two fellow researchers recently examined the political motives of sovereign wealth fund investments in the U.S. They discovered sovereign wealth funds are attracted to invest in firms that engage in campaign financing, and that these firms’ campaign contributions rise after investment by sovereign wealth funds.

Ning Zhang

Ning Zhang, assistant professor and the Commerce ’83 Fellow of Accounting, came to Smith in 2013. Prior, he was at Duke University, where he earned a PhD in business administration.

His research looks at the role of information and incentives in financial markets and in firm investment decisions.

A study he co-authored last year, “Bowling Alone, Bowling Together: Is Social Capital Priced in Bank Loans?”, examined whether the social capital enjoyed by firms is priced into their bank loans.

In his acceptance speech for his award, Zhang acknowledged the tremendous support from Smith. He also discussed the “passion” and “perseverance” shared by those who do research. “We learn a lot from the day-to-day obstacles that we encounter.”

He added that “working in accounting research is a humbling experience. No matter what studies you conduct or accolades you accumulate, there are always others who are better, smarter and faster than you. So going to conferences, reading papers, talking to my colleagues, all these produce constant reminders of how much further I have to go.”

Hanna Liu

Hanna Liu began her doctorate studies in business economics at Smith in 2013, after completing her Master of Science in business economics in 2012 at Smith. Before, she taught at Xi’an University of Technology in China.

Liu studies industrial organization, corporate governance and innovation management. A recent working paper she co-authored, “The Effects of Downstream Competition on Upstream Innovation and Licensing”, examined the subtle connection between competition and innovation through technology markets.

“I am very curious to see how building a theoretical model and constructing new datasets can lead us to new research findings,” she says. “I also enjoy the intellectual interaction, communication and brainstorming with my supervisor [Jean-Etienne de Bettignies] and co-authors, which I believe is the key to generate research work of a high quality.”

Nominations for the PhD Student Research Excellence Award are adjudicated by the Graduate Committee for Business. A prize of $1,500 is included with the award.