Featured Scholar

The Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative scholar network has an extensive reach including an international community of researchers with diverse research interests from varying academic disciplines. Each month we take time to highlight one of these outstanding scholars and their research.

Michael Braun
Associate Professor of Marketing
MIT Sloan School of Management

Michael is an awardee of the data for WCAI’s Search and Display Research Opportunity sponsored by Organic. He joined us at the Organic research symposium in July 2011 to present his project “Direct and Indirect Effects of Online Advertising Campaigns” (co-author, Wendy Moe, University of Maryland) to executives from Organic and other Omnicom agencies. This model was also featured as part of one of WCAI’s exclusive corporate partner webinars. You can find a one page case study about the project here.

"Academic research in marketing is most relevant when it addresses topics that actually matter to managers and investors. With such widespread access to customer data, there may be no greater determinant of a company's future successes than how it uses that information. When I work directly with a WCAI corporate partner, I know that my efforts will have a real influence on how that company conducts business."

About Michael:

Michael Braun is an Associate Professor of Marketing at the MIT Sloan School of Management.The core of his research program is in finding complex and interesting data structures in business and marketing contexts; constructing and estimating probability models to "tell a story" about the underlying customer behavior; and using those models to address practical marketing and management issues. He has written on, spoken on, and taught about applications of probability models to marketing and business problems as diverse as forecasting, customer retention, customer lifetime value, marketing ROI, social networking models, segmentation and targeting strategies, and real-time customization of website design.

Professor Braun’s work has been published in top academic publications such as Marketing Science, Management Science, and, Journal of the American Statistical Association. He is a member of the Marketing Science Editorial Review Board, and he has held several leadership positions for the American Statistical Association's Section on Statistics and Marketing,including Section Chair in 2011 and Program Chair for 2009 and 2013. Professor Braun earned his Ph.D. in Operations and Information Management from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He also holds an A.B. with Honors in Economics from Princeton University, and an M.B.A. from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

 Past Featured Scholars

Pinar Yildirim
Assistant Professor of Marketing
The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Pinar is an awardee of the data for WCAI’s Cultivating Disaster Donors Research Opportunity sponsored by Russ Reid and the American Red Cross. She joined us at the recent research symposium in December to present her project “Optimizing Donation Collection Under Uncertainty: A Dynamic Programming Approach” (co-author, Murat Kurt of SUNY Buffalo), and will present again at a symposium reprise at American Red Cross in Washington, DC.

"Some people in industry think academia is too unattached from real life problems. In this sense, WCAI fills a very important role to bridge the gap between industry and academia. Bringing original problems with high quality data not only allows academics to work on new ideas, but also demonstrates companies how they can benefit from cooperating with academia."

"Having a chance to present our work in front of Russ Reid and ARC and getting their feedback were very rewarding. We learned a lot from our partner company as well as the other participating groups. Sometimes a simple suggestion can make all the difference for practitioners, and seeing what we developed might be useful for practice is wonderful."

About Pinar:

Professor Yildirim earned a Ph.D. in Marketing from the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh. Her interests are implementation of game theoretic and stochastic models on user-generated content, advertising and media in marketing. Her publications appeared in Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Marketing, and others. Pinar has a background in engineering and her industrial experience focused on consumer electronics and automative sector at firms including Fiat S.P.A, Renault S.A., Bosch GmBH and Iveco.

Nathan Fong
Assistant Professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management
Temple University Fox School of Business

Nathan Fong is an awardee of the data for the WCAI "Relationship Marketing" Research Opportunity. He joined us earlier this year to present his project, "Targeted Marketing and Customer Search" to the sponsoring corporate partner during their research symposium. Nathan will present his project again in 2013 in an exclusive corporate partner webinar, open to all current corporate partners.

"WCAI research opportunities are particularly beneficial for young scholars looking to build connections with practitioners. The sponsors provide access to high quality data, and explain what you're looking at (the importance of the latter is clear to anyone used to working with real data). Finally, the symposium that follows each opportunity allows the researchers to share their results with each other, and with marketers who have a genuine interest in the ideas generated through the project. My participation has not only been valuable professionally, it has been a rewarding experience."

About Nathan:

Nathan Fong joined Temple University's Fox School of Business as an Assistant Professor in 2011. He earned his B.S. in Mathematical and Computational Science from Stanford University, and his Ph.D. in Marketing from MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He previously worked as a consultant for LECG in the antitrust practice. Nathan’s research on how sales taxes affect consumer and retailer behavior was published in the Journal of Marketing Research. His current research evaluates the price sensitivity for private label goods, and how targeted marketing communications affect customer search behavior. He is particularly interested in the use of field experiments in marketing research and methods for causal inference in non-experimental settings.

Pradeep K. Chintagunta
Joseph T. and Bernice S. Lewis Distinguished Service Professor of Marketing
University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

Pradeep serves on the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative’s Research Council and was an awardee of the data for the WCAI “Relationship Marketing” Research Opportunity sponsored by StubHub. Pradeep and his team joined us in May to present their project to StubHub team members. His project, "The Effects of Mobile Internet on Media Consumption," with coauthor Elisabeth Honka, was awarded a grant as part of WCAI's 2011-12 Themed Research Cycle on Modeling Mobile Customer Behavior.

"WCAI does a terrific job linking academics to practicing marketers of course, but more importantly it provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and opinions both within and across these groups. Often we work with data with little knowledge as to whether marketers reach similar conclusions by looking at the data; the forum provided by WCAI helped us to cross-check some of the findings from the data as well."  -Pradeep Chintagunta

About Pradeep:

Pradeep K. Chintagunta conducts research into the analysis of household purchase behavior, pharmaceutical markets, and technology products. "A lot of my early research was with scanner panel data trying to understand how consumers respond to different marketing activities of firms - prices, promotions, advertising, etc.," explained Chintagunta. "My research has expanded in two directions - one was to expand the domain beyond CPG products to pharmaceuticals and technology products and the other was to go beyond the consumer to other players in the broader 'ecosystem' to obtain a more holistic view of the effects of marketing."

He earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University in 1984, a postgraduate diploma in management from the Indian Institute of Management in 1986, and a PhD in marketing from Northwestern University in 1990. In addition to teaching at Chicago Booth, he has taught courses at the Harvard Business School and the S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. He joined the Chicago Booth faculty in 1995.

He enjoys traveling, movies, and spending time with his family.