PhD Student Awarded Prestigious Fellowship to Investigate Consumer Behavior

Minah Jung, a first-year PhD student in marketing, has received a prestigious graduate research fellowship to study the deeper motivations behind customer charitable giving.

Jung joins the ranks of several Nobel Prize winners and other well-respected scientists who have participated in the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program. They include U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu (who also received his PhD from UC Berkeley), Google co-founder Sergey Brin, and Freakonomics co-author Steven Levitt.

The program, based in Arlington, Virginia, aims to help develop lifelong leaders in science innovation and teaching. The fellowship is three years long and pays an annual $30,000 stipend and a $10,500 cost-of-education allowance.

"I am very excited," Jung said of the fellowship. "There is not much research on how corporations and consumers can mutually contribute to increasing social welfare. This is the area I'm interested in."

Jung will be working with her adviser, Associate Marketing Professor Leif Nelson, who recently published an article on pay-what-you-want-pricing, which explored the influence that charitable giving has on consumers when they know their money is going to a good cause. Now Jung wants to dig deeper into consumer motivation in the context of pay-what-you-want pricing strategy. Part of her research will be conducted at the Berkeley Flea Market at the Ashby BART station and will also involve several local nonprofit organizations, including the Berkeley East Bay Humane Society.