10 Berkeley Haas PhDs honored at commencement

Dean Ann Harrison (top, left) congratulated the PhD grads as Haas faculty, family, and friends joined commencement online.
Dean Ann Harrison (top, left) congratulated the PhD grads as Haas faculty, family, and friends joined commencement online.

Ten newly-minted Berkeley Haas PhDs were praised for their resilience during the 2021 commencement ceremony last Saturday, with Dean Ann Harrison noting “the incredible years of hard work” they’ve put into earning the advanced degree.

In full regalia, Finance Prof. Ulrike Malmendier, faculty head of the doctoral program, introduced Harrison, who virtually welcomed the students and their families and friends.

While the PhD is the smallest Haas program, it’s the program “that’s nearest and dearest to the hearts of our faculty, all of whom are PhDs and deeply committed to training the researchers and professors of the future,” said Harrison, who earned a PhD in economics from Princeton University.

Melissa Hacker, executive director of the PhD program, introduced each of the 2021 PhD graduates, who include Stephen Walker, Andres Gonzalez Lira, Thiago Scot, Mohammad Abbas Rezaei, Nika Qiao, Muhammad Yasir Khan, Byung Hyun Ahn, Vincent Skiera, “Harry” Zihao Zhou, and Gauri Subramani.

“Never, ever give up.”

Asst. Prof. Abhishek Nagaraj
Asst. Prof. Abhishek Nagaraj discusses Gauri Subramani’s disseration at commencement.

Harrison praised the students for their years of hard work. “In the midst of the most horrifying pandemic in 100 years you persisted in the program and in finding jobs,” she said. “We are so proud of you.”

She also offered three pieces of advice: stay in touch with your fellow graduates and faculty advisors; never be afraid of submitting your work or sharing it with others; and finally, never, ever, give up. “How well you do will depend entirely on your resilience and determination,” she said.

During the ceremony, faculty advisors, including Assoc. Prof. Panos Patatoukas, Prof. Steve Tadelis, Prof. Ernesto Dal Bó, Prof. Gustavo Manso, Assoc. Prof. Dmitry Livdan, Asst. Prof. Abhishek Nagaraj, and Prof. Miguel Villas-Boas were called on to explain each student’s accomplishments.

Cheit Award winner Guo Xu.

The students’ dissertation titles ranged from “Machine Learning and Corporate Fraud Detection” to “The Impact of R&D Classification Shifting in High-Technology Industries” to “Essays on Quantitative Marketing Theory.”

Five of the students have accepted faculty jobs, while three will take industry positions. Two have not yet finalized their plans.

Asst. Prof. Guo Xu of the Business & Public Policy group was selected to receive the Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching. Students in each degree program choose faculty each year to receive the award, the top teaching honor at Berkeley Haas.