The Carlos Alvarez College of Business at UTSA has selected two business students to join the Alvarez Fellows Undergraduate Research Program for spring 2022. The new fellows are Shawn Marchand, a junior information systems major, and Luis Nino, a junior economics and finance major.
Established in fall 2021, the Alvarez Fellows Program is a two-and-a-half year program for students to explore academic research. Students are chosen based on their academic excellence, demonstrated research potential, personal interest and motivation. Fellows may receive up to $25,000 in educational stipends for completing the full program, which includes three academic courses as part of the college’s research competency, participation in experiential learning activities and the completion of a personal research project with faculty mentors.
“The program is based upon the philosophy of experiential learning,” said Mark Leung, interim associate dean of undergraduate studies. “All course content and activities are developed utilizing critical thinking and research to simulate the environment a doctoral student encounters. It encompasses activities including research symposiums and conferences, submitting to publication outlets, assisting faculty in academic research and more.”
Marchand, a San Antonio native, became interested in the program while taking Leung’s academic research course. His first introduction to research was through UTSA’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry Showcase in April. Marchand worked with a group of graduate and undergraduate business students, with guidance from Leung, to present research about the relationship between remote work modalities and productivity as it relates to gender. He received third place in the three-minute thesis competition during the showcase.
In the fall, Marchand will begin working on his personal research project with Oren Upton, a UTSA research scientist, focused on omnichannel marketing research within the pet retail industry.
An aspiring project manager, Marchand plans to secure an internship next summer. He believes his involvement in the Alvarez Fellows Program and the research symposium has helped him develop skills essential to project management.
“Working in project management, it is important to understand how to work with diverse groups. When I was working with the team for the research symposium, I learned how to communicate with the group to meet deadlines,” Marchand reflected. “Assisting Dr. Oren Upton in the Cyber Center for Security and Analytics and using Jira software, agile techniques and learning documentation has also improved my understanding of project management.”
Nino’s interest in the Alvarez Fellows Program was piqued through his involvement in the Business Honors Program and his desire to create a better future for himself. Choosing a subject related to both of his majors as well as his minor in computer science, he has narrowed his project research to examining how cryptocurrency influences small economies.
“Research is a great way to understand my career field, and in finance you have to research industry changes and markets,” Nino said. “The program will help me do that.”
With the guidance of his program mentor Binay Adhikari, Nino is in the data collection stage of his research project and is working on a proposal. He is developing a model to understand the volatility of Bitcoin due to its rapidly-fluctuating value. In addition to his research, Nino is studying abroad in Barcelona this summer through the Terry Foundation with funding from the Gilman Scholarship and will begin a financial analyst internship in June with BlackRock in San Francisco.
His favorite part about being in the program so far is the feedback and mentorship he has received working with Leung on his project for the Undergraduate Research Showcase. He has also enjoyed learning more about relevant real-world business topics.
“It’s been enjoyable because my research topic is current and constantly changing, which is what makes life interesting with our work,” Nino said.
Both Marchand and Nino would encourage other business students to consider participating in research and experiential learning opportunities as a student.
“Don’t set limits on yourself and keep moving forward in an effort to reach your goals. Even if you stumble, you will gain experience which will help you succeed in the future,” Marchand advised.