UTSA College of Business Newsletter
November 22, 2016
Level Up

Cyber Faculty Member Discovers Method to Detect Dishonesty Online

Kim-Kwang Raymond Choo, associate professor of information systems and cyber security and Cloud Technology Endowed Professor in the UTSA College of Business, has discovered a method for detecting people dishonestly posting online comments, reviews or tweets across multiple accounts, a practice known as “astroturfing.” Choo and his research collaborators found that it’s challenging for authors to completely conceal their writing style in their text. Based on word choice, punctuation and context, the method is able to detect whether one person or multiple people are responsible for the samples. “Astroturfing is legal, but it’s questionable ethically,” Choo said. “Businesses can use this to encourage support for their products or services, or to sabotage other competing companies by spreading negative opinions through false identities.” Now that Choo has the capability to detect one person pretending to be many online, he is considering further applications for his research. He’s now looking into whether the algorithm can be used to prevent plagiarism and contract cheating. “In addition to raising public awareness of the problem, we hope to develop tools to detect astroturfers so that social media users can make informed choices and resist online social manipulation and propaganda,” Choo said.

Sergio Silva
Finance Alumnus Finds Success on Wall Street

Almost a decade ago Sergio Silva Cisneros, ’09 CFA made a decision that would not only impact his life, but the lives of countless UTSA finance students--he decided to found the Investment Society, a student organization dedicated to educating future business leaders about the financial markets and the economy. The organization’s motto is to outperform, and Silva Cisneros certainly has done that as a shining example of what UTSA finance students can accomplish. He was the first UTSA student offered a security internship with Goldman Sachs in New York City. And, a job offer soon followed from the firm in their Emerging Markets team when he graduated. In May 2014 he was recruited away by Barclays to grow their Latin American division as their new vice president. “I would see athletes, musicians and artists practicing their craft throughout campus, and I thought that finance students needed the same experience,” said Silva Cisneros, who competes in half-Ironmans. “We began as a small group hovered around a single Bloomberg terminal in the Business Building. We had a vision for success and a goal of making it to Wall Street.” Silva Cisneros now works in the equity derivatives sales-trading team at Barclays.

Economic analysis
Economics Professor Explores How U.S. Can Avoid a Debt Disaster

Avoiding a debt disaster in the United States is the focus of a new study by John Merrifield, professor of economics in the UTSA College of Business. Merrifield proposes a way to curb spending and stop the growth of the national debt, which is close to $20 trillion. “We need to find a way to have less debt that’s politically feasible,” he said. “That’s obvious. But how do you make it politically palatable to somehow restrain spending?” Cutting spending is unpopular on both sides of the aisle for a number of reasons, but the most common excuse is that the government needs to be able to spend without limits in the case of a disaster. To eliminate that excuse, Merrifield and his co-author, Barry W. Poulson, retired professor of economics at the University of Colorado, have adapted Swiss and Swedish spending policies. One of these adaptations includes an emergency fund to cover the recovery costs of a natural disaster or terrorist attack. The next step is a cap on spending, which is more difficult to make happen. He and Poulson are set to meet with representatives from lawmakers and think tanks in Washington, D.C. to discuss their findings and possible solutions to the problem. “Even if we restrict our rate of growth of spending, it’s going to be a lot harder to move forward,” Merrifield said. “The longer we wait to do something, the harder it’s going to be to make much progress.”

Marketing doctoral student success
Marketing Doctoral Students Enjoy Top Tier Successes

The UTSA Department of Marketing has experienced great success this past semester with their current doctoral students as well as alumni. Recent graduate Huachao Gao, '16, assistant professor at the University of Victoria in Canada, has had two research papers accepted in elite journals. His first publication was in the Journal of Consumer Research, and his second article will appear in the Journal of Marketing. Both articles were co-authored with Yinlong Zhang, UTSA professor of marketing. “Publishing in an elite journal is the top accomplishment for research faculty,” said Suman Basuroy, Graham Weston Endowed Professor and chair of the Department of Marketing. “Earning two elite journal publications so soon after graduation is an amazing accomplishment. I credit the work of his advisor Dr. Zhang for his outstanding mentoring.” Current marketing doctoral students have also experienced great success this fall. With the start of the faculty recruiting season just beginning, two marketing doctoral students have already received top job offers. B.J. Allen has accepted a position with the University of Arkansas. Jorge Pena Marin has accepted an offer with the University of Cincinnati. “This is the first time that UTSA marketing doctoral students have accepted positions with Carnegie I universities, the top level in university rankings,” said Basuroy.

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