Texas Tech University

Research Spotlight on Women Faculty: Jessica Yuan, Elizabeth Karam, and Melissa Gotlieb

March 12, 2020 |  

During March, Texas Tech is celebrating women faculty who exemplify excellence in research, scholarship, creative activity, teaching, and mentoring.

Jessica Yuan
Associate Professor; RHIM/Hospitality Administration Graduate Program Director; Department of Hospitality and Retail Management

Jessica Yuan

Yuan's research interests include wine tourism development, gastro-tourism development, memorable tourist experience, implications of natural disasters within tourism, international tourism benchmarking, and restaurant atmospherics.

What inspired you to work in your field/area of expertise?

I have been inspired to become the leading researcher in the subject area of experiential tourism. This person-centered approach which my work promulgates is becoming a new imperative in tourism research and practice worldwide. My curiosity in understanding the process of Memorable Tourists' Experiences (MTEs) has led me to explore the unique individuality and the authentic experiential moments which essentially define the phenomenon. My research has isolated critical elements that comprise MTEs. Specifically, co-creation, authenticity, risk assessment, sociability, and emotion triggers foster memorable experiences that are in increasing demand by contemporary tourists. Motivated by this inspiration, I established the Experiential Tourism Research Initiative, which is housed within the Department of Hospitality and Retail Management, in fall 2018. The initiative is taking the leading position in bringing together prominent tourism researchers to shape the new research domain in experiential tourism. It anticipates becoming an international platform for continual robust research in this phenomenon. I am also a research associate at the Global Understanding of Sustainable and Experiential Tourism (GUEST) Center at TTU, and have been assuming a leading role in research productivity on experiential tourism.

Who inspired you to pursue academia?

I was indeed inspired by my father to pursue the path of academia. My father attended college at one of the top universities in China, and then received his graduate degree, among the very first crop of high achievers in his academic field, from the same university. He later became a researcher/librarian at a university in northwestern China. For over 30 years he worked at that university until he retired. When I was growing up, I shared a desk with my father, from my elementary school years to the moment when I graduated from high school and left home for college. Nearly every single day I got to watch him reading books and articles, writing papers, and working on his own books, from across the desk. From early years I knew I would follow my father's footsteps and had envisioned a career dedicated to scholarly pursuits. It was just a matter of time for me to gradually become who I am today.

What would you tell your female students interested in pursuing an academic career?

Pursuing an academic career is a life-long journey. So maintain your academic integrity. Always strive for precision, depth, and rigor when conducting research. Actively seek opportunities for collaborative relationships but do use caution because some collaborators may not be able to commit.

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Elizabeth Karam
Assistant Professor; Area of Management

Elizabeth KaramKaram's areas of expertise are leadership and teams.

What inspired you to work in your field/area of expertise?

I had worked in Human Resources for many years before returning to graduate school to pursue an MBA, and I was always curious to learn more about how to improve the experiences of people in organizations. While taking classes during my masters program, I realized the field of organizational behavior was a great fit because it allowed me to study the psychological aspects of individuals at work.

Who inspired you to pursue academia?

I had a truly inspirational professor (Dr. John Hollenbeck) while pursuing my MBA who encouraged me to pursue a doctorate. We worked together during my doctoral program, and he served on my dissertation committee several years later as well.

What would you tell your female students interested in pursuing an academic career?

It's hard to give this advice in a sound bite, but I would strongly advise spending time considering the type of work that interests and fulfills you as well as type of impact you would like to have in your professional life. Doctoral programs are an enormous personal and professional commitment, but I have found that the variety of work (research, teaching, university service) as well as the inspiring university environment are a great fit for me!

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Melissa Gotlieb
Associate Professor; Department of Advertising & Brand Strategy

Melissa GotliebGotlieb's research lies at the intersection of media, politics, and consumer behavior. In particular, she is interested in emergent citizenship practices (e.g., political and ethical forms of consumption, digital forms of political expression), the motivations that underlie these, and how they shape young citizens' broader political participation repertoires.

What inspired you to work in your field/area of expertise?

A segment of an episode of 20/20 that focused on the psychology of advertising. I was only in grade school at the time, but I became fascinated by the power that words and images can have in shaping the way consumers think and feel. I began college as a psychology major, but my interest in consumer behavior led me to pursue advertising as a second major and eventually a Ph.D. in mass communication.

Who inspired you to pursue academia?

My undergraduate thesis advisor. As a research assistant in her lab, I got to see how her research not only made an important contribution to the academic field, but also to society. Moreover, in working with her and one of her graduate students to design a study, I came to see that research can not only satisfy intellectual curiosity but can also be a form of creative expression.

What would you tell your female students interested in pursuing an academic career?

A career in academia is one that can be both fulfilling and empowering. To be successful, you need to be self-motivated and dedicated. But it's worth it, as it allows you to explore your passion and inspire others to do the same.

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