Research in the life of an associate professor
I walked into room 12 located in what is now known as old Rockwell to interview Kelly Martin, an associate professor of marketing at Colorado State University. I found room 12 near the stairwell that leads to Rockwell Hall West if you’re ascending from the business lab. Kelly had a welcoming smile and I could tell she was a teacher by her willingness to answer my questions and treat them with genuine interest.
It may be interesting for students to note that our professors often have more homework than we do, and still end up grading ours in the process. A typical day for Kelly is either a teaching day or a research day. A teaching day is filled with preparing for classes, grading, office hours, emails, and students. A research day is often spent in front of a computer collecting relevant data, analyzing data, writing, and reviewing concepts related to the study. She evaluates which projects need her attention and then focuses on those for the day. I asked her if she considered teaching to be a roadblock to her research or if she enjoyed doing both. Kelly replied, “I really enjoy doing both.” She even gets to introduce her investigations into her classes and provide students with real examples of what marketing research is like.
I asked Kelly what kind of research she does at CSU. She told me about several projects she’s working on. Whatever she studies she often looks at both the company’s perspective and the customer’s. Right now she’s working on how saving money helps the well-being of people in developing countries; and some of the ethical challenges companies face, like the Target credit card debacle. She’s also looked into how companies are using consumer information they collect. The working title for this project is “Customer Data Capture.”
Questions about this “big data” provide yet another example of what Kelly’s research might look like. Several years ago Target was previously in the spotlight when it became uncannily accurate at predicting customers’ pregnancies. Target was so accurate that it would send advertisements for pregnancy products to female consumers they thought were pregnant. These women may or may not have told those closest to them that they were expecting. Naturally this created some difficult situations around a sensitive topic. It brought up questions which researchers, like Kelly Martin, wanted to investigate. Mainly, how did customers feel about these issues?
Once Kelly receives enough information to start presenting findings she, like other faculty, looks for avenues to present her research. These can include conferences, research symposia, and publishing research for journal articles. Thankfully for our faculty deadlines can be years in the making. Conversely, they have years of homework. This allows their research to be of the highest quality. Quality is sorely needed in order to get an article published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Many Colorado State University professors are required to do research. If there’s a professor you really like, or if you are just trying to strike up a conversation, I would suggest asking them about their research. It could be enlightening and provide you with an idea of how your degree could be used. It can also be very interesting.