Carl H. Lindner College of BusinessCarl H. Lindner College of BusinessUniversity of Cincinnati

Carl H. Lindner College of Business

Vote of Confidence

International PhD candidate sees UC as his home away from home.

Before Muer Yang's grandfather passed away, he issued an important request to his grandson: that Muer, a native of Beijing, China, travel abroad for graduate school.

Now a PhD candidate in quantitative analysis and operations management (QAOM) at the UC College of Business, Muer has fulfilled his grandfather's dream. “My grandfather always said that the United States has the best schools, and he wanted me to see the rest of the world so that I could know the difference between China's status-quo and the international standard,” says Muer.

But to follow his grandfather's wishes, Muer had to leave his family behind in Beijing. “As an only child, it is difficult for me to be away,” Muer says. “But my family is very supportive. They highly value education, and they are glad I am studying in the U.S.”

Muer previously attended Tsinghua University in Beijing, where he studied information systems (IS) as an undergraduate and operations management (OM) at the graduate level. “At Tsinghua University, IS and OM were housed in the same department, so as an undergraduate, I started to take a lot of OM classes,” he says. “The classes made me realize that I wanted to do something related to management and use quantitative tools to solve real-world problems.”

After applying to PhD programs at 15 different schools in the U.S., Muer ultimately chose Cincinnati to be his home away from home. “Faculty-wise, UC is the top school in operations management. I feel very lucky,” he says. Like other UC business faculty, QAOM department faculty members consistently publish in top-tier journals in the discipline and have received professional recognition for excellence in teaching, research and service.

At the College of Business, Muer has found great academic and professional success—notably, his ongoing research with QAOM professors Michael Fry (UC), David Kelton (UC) and Theodore Allen (OSU). Together, they are conducting research to determine a more scientific way to allocate electronic voting machines throughout the State of Ohio—a project motivated by voting discrepancies in the 2004 U.S. presidential election.

“Our goal is to provide election boards with easy-to-use tools that can be used to develop public policy. Voting is a sensitive issue, and we want ensure that everyone has equal access to voting machines,” explains Muer, who was directly involved in rewriting legislation—passed by the Ohio House of Representatives in 2009—addressing operational issues in elections. “As a researcher, I always hope my research can be used—I want it to have an impact outside of the academic community.”

Muer's commitment and enthusiasm for his work are reflected in everything he does at the college. In addition to serving as a teaching assistant for undergraduate classes, he received competitive summer research fellowships in 2007 and 2010 and was nominated for the Outstanding PhD Dissertation Completion Award. “I was honored to be nominated because the College of Business can only nominate one student,” he says.

Muer has also enjoyed attending different conferences—like the Institute for Operations Research and Management Science (INFORMS) and the Winter Simulation Conference—as part of his graduate school experience. He recounts the weekend he returned home from an INFORMS conference in Canada: “As we crossed the border into the United States, the customs officer said, ‘Welcome home.' And I smiled because I felt like I had really come home.”

After graduation, Muer hopes to obtain an academic position that will allow him to continue his research and also continue to teach.

“I've had excellent professors, and I've loved my department and the university. I really enjoy my life in the U.S.,” Muer says. “Attending school here was the right decision; it completely changed my life.”

Want to learn more?

Muer Yang's research was featued in a UC news story.