2018 IAC Graduate Essay Awards

Graduate students enrolled in Ivan Allen College Liberal Arts graduate courses submitted abstracts by January 1st, 2018 to present papers at the IAC graduate student conference. Presentations were scheduled as 10-minute papers on panels or 9-minute roundtable presentations during the conference on Friday, January 26, 2018,  from 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., in Room 102 of the Stephen C. Hall Building (215 Bobby Dodd). The Ivan Allen Graduate Student Advisory Board members reviewed the abstracts and organized the schedule for the conference. Graduate students were recruited to volunteer as session chairs and respondents.

Below are biographies and abstracts of prize winners in 2018.

First Prize

Alice Hong (School of History and Sociology)

Alice Hong is a master’s student in the School of History and Sociology at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2015, she earned her bachelor’s in two interdisciplinary majors at the University of Pennsylvania: Health & Societies and Biological Basis of Behavior. It was from her Health and Societies coursework where she cultivated an interest in examining the socio-historical components of health. Her research interests include feminist technoscience, the history and sociology of medicine, the politics of healthcare institutions, and the ways in which different social groups understood bodies and illness.

A Grave Danger: Sanitary Arguments for Cremation in the United States at the Turn of the 20th Century


While cremation may seem like a more environmentally friendly alternative to burial, the process still requires a lot of energy and can contribute to air pollution. The late 19th century was marked by many social changes, notably the rise of public health, and in addition the beginnings of modern cremation in America can be traced back to the works of Dr. Francis Julius LeMoyne in the 1870s. LeMoyne hypothesized that there was a connection between decomposing bodies and rampant illness in his community and proposed cremating bodies in lieu of burials to curb the spread of illness. As public health became a more salient social concern in the United States at the turn of the 20th century, there was consequently a growing acknowledgment of cremation by the medical community and sanitarians as the preferred way of disposing of dead bodies. The emergence of modern cremation in the late 19th century reflected changing ideas in how bodies were understood to pollute the environment. Arguments in favor of cremation presented during this time period reveal that the rise of cremation in America is indicative of the transition between miasmatic and bacteriologic understandings of health rather than an exclusive subscription to either theory.

Second Prize

Seokbeom Kwon (School of Public Policy)

Seokbeom Kwon is a Ph.D. candidate 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 the 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.

Impact of Patent Ownership Transfer on Patent Holdup Risk and Innovation of Firms


The growth of the market for patents has drawn the attention of innovation management scholars and policymakers to the impact this market may have on innovation. One of their prominent questions is whether firms exploit the market for patents to obtain strategic benefits over their market rivals, which may aggravate ex-post patent holdup and increase the cost of innovation.

In the paper Impact of Patent Ownership Transfer on Patent Holdup Risk and Innovation of Firms, I examine how a firm’s patent purchase affects it’s rival’s innovative activity when the patent can be strategically utilized by the patent purchasing firm against its rival. I investigate whether there is an economic incentive for the firm to purchase a patent to strategically utilize the patent against the market rival. Then, I derive a hypothesis stating that the firm’s patent purchase deters the rival firm’s development of relevant technologies to that patent if the patent covers crucial technological input for the rival’s market operation, by imposing a greater patent holdup risk to the rival firm.

My analysis using Nortel’s patent auction case in 2011 finds supportive evidence for the short term effect. Finally, I discuss the different nature of the market for patents from the market for technology and how we must understand these differences to formulate better innovation policies.