2017 IAC Graduate Essay Awards

2017 IAC Graduate Essay Awards

Students who had submitted abstracts for the IAC graduate conference submitted 10-15 page papers by January 1st, 2017 to be evaluated by Ivan Allen College faculty judges. Authors of the three top papers each received $1500 in travel funds. Below are biographies and abstracts of prize winners in 2017.

2017 Prize winners

Kera Allen  (History and Sociology)

Kera is a Ph.D. student in the Department of History and Sociology at Georgia Tech. She has a B.S. in Science, Technology, and Culture and an M.S. in History, Technology, and Society from Georgia Tech. She worked as a technical writer and support analyst in the software industry, which led her to become very interested in studying the social and cultural factors that shape workplace environments in the information technology sector, especially those experienced by women and minorities. Through her research efforts, she hopes to contribute to a more diverse technology workplace. Kera is also a fellow in the Georgia Tech Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program, which trains doctoral students in the skills required for conducting research in energy science, technology, and policy. She believes that diversity can foster better innovation, which can lead to the advancement of new alternative energy solutions and policies.

Still some nagging parts: An Intersectional Study of the Computing and IT Workforce (First Prize-tie)

Abstract: As of 2015, women accounted for 23% of workers in computing and technology occupations compared to 46% in all occupations in the U.S. Many organizations, including the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the White House, support the enrollment and retention of women in technology. This research explores the sociocultural factors affecting women of color in the workplace in computing and information technology (IT) occupations. I employ a mixed-methodological approach using surveys and in-depth interviews with women of color and white women. Women of color experience discrimination similar to that of white women, but these experiences differ due to the intersection of race and sex. Some workplace studies have researched the consequences of women exhibiting anger – a stereotypically masculine trait – but do not address how exhibiting anger is different for women of color. For example, passivity is a sex-based norm for white women. The women of color I interviewed were expected to be vocal and assertive at times, but still felt limited in their authority based on their gender, resulting in “nagging” feelings of inadequacy. Studying workplace culture regarding gender and race brings to light the myriad of ways that discrimination exists for all women in computing.

 

Seok Beom Kwon (Public Policy)

Seokbeom Kwon is a doctoral student of the School of Public Policy at Georgia Institute of Technology and a graduate research assistant with the Georgia Tech Program in Science and Technology Policy. He earned a master’s degree in Technology Management for Innovation from University of Tokyo Japan in 2013, and B.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering and Management of Technology from the Seoul National University, Korea in 2011. He is undertaking dissertation research on the market for patents.

Strategic Patent Acquisition of Patent Assertion Entities and Defensive Patent Aggregators (First Prize-tie)

Abstract: Defensive Patent Aggregators (DPA) are a new patent intermediary that aim to counter the threat that Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs) pose to technology practicing firms by preempting the patents that can be utilized by PAEs. In this study, we empirically investigate the patent aggregation strategy of DPAs and PAEs by analyzing the portfolio of patents that were aggregated by ten large PAEs and three DPAs. In particular, we develop an analytical model illustrating determinants of patent aggregation decision of the two entities. The analysis shows that DPAs target systematically different patents from the patent portfolio of PAEs, hence DPA is insufficient to protect technology firms from the threat of PAEs. We draw policy implications based on our analysis.

 

Sen Yan (Economics)

Sen Yan earned his B.A. degree in economics from the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications. After that, he received his M.S. degree in investment from the Central University of Finance and Economics. He is currently a doctoral student in economics at Georgia Tech under the advisement of Professor Tibor Besedes. His research interests are international trade, industrial organization, and applied econometrics. His research focuses on the relationship among innovation, product quality, and international trade. Currently he is working on a project investigating how IPR protection affects innovation and the varieties of exports. Another project he is working on is examining how product quality affects the duration of international trade.

Intellectual property rights, innovation, and exports (Second Prize)

Abstract: This paper studies the impact of IPR protection on exports of the number of new products and total export value. The findings show that stronger IPR protection increases the number of new products exported to the U.S. for non-OECD countries. In addition, strengthened IPR promotes innovation measured by patent counts. Finally, stronger IPR and higher innovation level increase total export value. Numerous papers have investigated how intellectual property rights protection of destination countries affects exports of source countries. However, few studies have examined the relationship between the own IPR protection and exports. This paper studies the impact of IPR protection on exports of the number of new products and total export value. The findings show that stronger IPR protection increases the number of new products exported to the U.S. for non-OECD countries. In addition, strengthened IPR promotes innovation measured by patent counts. Finally, stronger IPR and higher innovation level increase total export value.

 

Garrett Bunyak (History and Sociology)

Garrett is a Ph.D. student in the Department of History and Sociology at Georgia Tech.  His research investigates relationships between society, non-human animals and technology.  He focuses on various ways in which power is both productive and a product of these relationships.  He is currently researching relationships between human and feline animals in the United States.  He is also currently examining relationships between technology, power, and U.S. society in a study of the diffusion of the microwave oven.  He earned his Bachelors of Arts in Sociology from Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania and Masters of Arts in Sociology from Ohio University.  At Ohio University, he completed his Master’s thesis titled “Legitimization of Environmental Problems in Newsmagazines: Power, Propaganda, and the Environment.”

The Diffusion of the Microwave in U.S. Society in Social Context  (Third Prize)

Abstract: In 2016, 98.5 percent of U.S. homes have microwaves. This paper explores the diffusion of the microwave through U.S. society from the 1970’s through the turn of the century. In around 30 years, a technology that ‘did not have a market’ became widely accepted by society. The academic literature commonly attributes the widespread diffusion to the technological advantages of speed, convenience and efficiency. I build on Ruth Schwartz Cowan’s position that artifacts better in technical terms are not always better in consumption terms. Addressing a gap in the literature, the following paper explores the social context in which the values of speed, convenience and efficiency became so highly prized by consumers. I argue that changes in the structure of the ‘American family’ and a political economy organized during the rise of neoliberalism were critical factors in creating a space where speedy, efficient, and time saving technologies became popular among consumers. As the microwave became accepted, an ecologically unsustainable system of economic growth accelerated. In many cases, consumers became willing to choose speed, convenience, and efficiency over health, happiness, and sustainability within the definite social and historical conditions of the period.