Texas Tech University

Ph.D. Student Spotlight: Blair Marquardt

August 25, 2017 | By: Kaitlin York 

Blair Marquardt

Why did you choose to pursue your Ph.D. at the Rawls College?

I wanted to get my degree somewhere that I'd have a strong support system. I found that at Texas Tech. When I interviewed, I was struck by how welcoming the faculty and students were. The Rawls College has lived up to that great first impression. We are all friends and teammates.

What do you like most about the Rawls College Ph.D. program?

There is no ambiguity about the expectations and requirements of Ph.D. students. It's helpful to have a clear path to graduation. It allows me to focus on my research and to push forward with confidence.

What research projects have you worked on, and why did you choose them?

My research relates to corporate governance, i.e., entity-level controls designed to protect shareholder wealth. I became interested in the topic during my first year in a seminar dedicated to corporate governance. It also relates back to my professional experience as a financial statement auditor, since entity-level controls are a major piece of the auditor's risk assessment.

How has the team-oriented culture of the program benefited you as a student?

Completing a Ph.D. is such an overwhelming process – there's so much to learn! The culture at the Rawls College makes this infinitely easier. Ph.D. students work together to navigate the journey. I have never seen myself as competing against my classmates. We study together, work on research together, and cheer each other on to the finish line.

What has been your experience with interdisciplinary collaboration, and how has it enhanced your research?

Collegiality at Texas Tech extends beyond the School of Accounting. Accounting Ph.D. students take statistics courses with students from various business disciplines. We also frequently take one or two finance seminars so we have strong relationships with other Ph.D. students in the Rawls College. As a result of this network, I have two coauthored working papers with individuals from the finance department. Our unique areas of expertise makes for creative research.

How have your interactions been with faculty at the Rawls College, and how have those interactions benefited you?

The faculty at the Rawls College are extremely supportive of Ph.D. students. They serve as mentors to us and advocate on our behalf. I know I can go to any of them for advice or feedback. They also provide us with an excellent education. Accounting seminars have been some of my favorite memories. In workshops, they encourage students to speak up and to get out of our comfort zones. It's always amazing to reflect on all we learned over the semester. Finally, they support the students through co-authorship. Currently, I have three working papers coauthored by Rawls College faculty.

How has the Rawls College supported you as a developing researcher and teacher?

The Rawls College supports its Ph.D. students in numerous ways, and always pushes us to grow as academics. With regard to research, the School of Accounting requires Ph.D. students to complete first- and second-year summer papers, ensuring we reach the job market ready to compete. Faculty closely advise these projects. When the time arrives to start our dissertation, a large group of diverse researchers are available to serve on our dissertation committees. The School of Accounting also supports our professional networks by funding travel to conferences. With regard to teaching, the Rawls College offers courses dedicated to teaching excellence. Ph.D. students typically teach a couple semesters. The faculty frequently help Ph.D. students plan those courses by suggesting valuable resources or by allowing students to shadow them. That said, the program coordinator also works hard to ensure the Ph.D. students have reasonable teaching and assistantship responsibilities, leaving sufficient time for research.