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Student Spotlight: Yeseul Kim Awarded Prestigious USF Presidential Doctoral Fellowship

By Keith Morelli

Yeseul Kim

TAMPA (May 29, 2018) -- The Muma College of Business, for the first time, will be home to a University of South Florida Presidential Doctoral Fellow, considered the most prestigious honor awarded to doctoral candidates university-wide each year. The business college has submitted nominations several times, but has never had a Presidential Doctoral Fellow to call its own.

The recipient of the prestigious award, Yesuel Kim, will focus her studies on sensory marketing under the guidance of marketing Professor Dipayan Biswas, whose research continues to break new ground on the topic.

Biswas said Kim comes to the program already with a body of research that she compiled as a master's degree student in her native South Korea.

"She is interested in doing her PhD in sensory marketing and hence, she applied to a select set of schools where there are professors working in that specific area," Biswas said. She chose USF over the University of Michigan, Temple University and Oxford University, he said, all institutions producing cutting-edge marketing research on this niche topic. Here, Kim plans to examine issues involving marketing to the senses, neuroscience and visual perceptions.

"She knows really well what she wants to do in terms of research," Biswas said, "and she has the potential to publish her findings in premier journals."

Kim said the biggest reason why I chose USF was her research interest.

"The research interest in sensory marketing of Professor Biswas is a very close fit to mine," she said. "What I also like about studying marketing in the PhD program at USF, is that the department and faculty are really supportive and friendly to students.

"It seems that they are trying to grow the department by having great and young professors and graduate students," she said. "The department would also provide a research opportunity to collaborate with business companies. For these reasons, I thought it is great place to study and do research."

Her path, she said, is clear.

"While studying marketing and doing research," she said, "I hope to fulfill my career goal of being a university professor specializing in sensory marketing."

Kim is a unique candidate, said Stacee Bender, academic services administrator with the Muma College of Business's Office of Graduate Affairs.

"One thing that sets Yesuel apart is that her background is not in business," Bender said. "She has undergraduate and graduate degrees in psychology. That seems odd until you take into account her research interests and then you can see how her background will be beneficial to this segment of marketing research.

"I believe she will be able to contribute a different perspective to our program," she said, "because her educational background is quite different than the rest of our incoming class."

Kim earned a master's degree in cognitive psychology last year and a bachelor's degree in psychology and English language and literature in 2014, both from Korea University in Seoul, South Korea. She spent a year during her undergraduate years at the Royal Holloway University of London as an exchange student.

She currently is a research fellow in Korea University's Visual Cognitive Neuroscience Lab.

Having a Presidential Doctoral Fellow will benefit the Muma College of Business, Bender said.

"The Presidential Fellowship is the most prestigious award that is given at USF to doctoral students," she said. "It has the highest award amount and is highly competitive."

Bender said the college has submitted nominations several times in the past, but always has faced tough competition from the hard-science colleges.

For this scholarship, students cannot nominate themselves and they must be newcomers to USF.

"The committee looks for students who have exceptional academic credentials, prior research productivity, awards, honors, etc.," Bender said. "In addition to having funding for five years, USF Presidential Fellows are provided extra travel funds for conferences at which they present their work."

According to the USF Office of Graduate Studies, the Presidential Doctoral Fellowship comes with a stipend of $25,000 a year plus tuition and fees, for up to five years. Health insurance is provided for the duration of the award and up to $1,000 in travel expenses will be provided to attend research conferences.