Building Student-Faculty Bonds
Collaboration, mentorship shape mutually beneficial relationships between students and researchers
Colin Campbell, PhD, associate professor of finance (above, right), studies corporate governance, behavioral finance and executive compensation. He also serves as an advisor to doctoral candidate Chad Dulle, PhD ’24, whose interests overlap with Campbell’s regarding behavioral economics, but also encompass cryptocurrency and financial technology. The two sat down to discuss their passion for research, the student-faculty relationship and the real-world impact of research insights.
Dulle: What draws you to research?
Campbell: I’ve always wanted to answer the questions that are important to me. And to learn more about finance — specifically corporate governance — because they’re questions that are interesting to me, that nobody’s answered yet.
Dulle: I can relate. I was a senior in high school graduating during the 2008 housing crisis. At that point in time, I was more idealistic about capitalism run amok and all of those things. Now that I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that it’s [capitalism] mostly good for the economy, which really got me into finance. I’ve learned so much more getting into the program and doing research.
Campbell: I honestly think that’s always been the most interesting part of finance: getting away from the standard idea of ‘everybody is rational.’ That really is what drew me into this specific area of corporate governance. How do we encourage people to make the decisions that we want them to make, understanding that no two people are going to view the world the same, and they’re not all going to respond the same way?
It’s a way to give back and contribute beyond just the direct knowledge I produce in my own research. It also gives somebody else those tools. Being able to work with a PhD student not only helps them in their career, but it also means that you are helping people add to that knowledge pool and do research the right way.
Colin Campbell, PhD, Associate Professor of Finance
Dulle: As an undergrad, I studied psychology and then I added a business minor. The first class I took was microeconomics 101. And it was a light bulb (moment) because I stumbled upon behavioral economics.
Campbell: I didn’t do a lot with behavioral economics, but I was exposed to it a little bit and it immediately clicked for me as well. We started talking about people having these biases in the way they make decisions. And this, obviously, can have real-world impact for a company.
Dulle: Related, what are the most important things you’ve learned, and maybe mistakes you’ve made, since you were a PhD student?
Campbell: I would say the biggest mistake I’ve made is not being thoughtful enough at the beginning of a process. You can save a lot of time and effort down the line by being thoughtful about how you’re setting everything up to answer your question. Early on, I spent a lot of wasted time and effort on wanting to dive into answering a question as quickly as I could and not thinking through the potential problems.
Dulle: I think that’s good advice. Something I’ve discovered is that when I start a project, I want to rush into it because you get excited about what the result is going to be. And then if the results are not what I want it to be, I start thinking ‘Oh, did I do everything correctly?’ I have to consider my own biases of wanting to find one thing or another. And I found early in my career that that can be a hazard.
Dulle: What do you find rewarding about working with a PhD student?
Campbell: It’s a way to give back and contribute beyond just the direct knowledge I produce in my own research. It also gives somebody else those tools. Being able to work with a PhD student not only helps them in their career, but it also means that you are helping people add to that knowledge pool and do research the right way. And, more selfishly, it helps me to see things from a different angle.
Dulle: So, there’s almost a benefit to the lack of experience sometimes because you’re not as far along down the path of how you do certain things, or what questions have been unanswered.
Campbell: You definitely have a different perspective on the world and research as a PhD student. It can mean that you don’t get caught up in things.
Dulle: How much do you think academia has an impact on regulations or corporate governance?
Campbell: I generally think yes, it matters. There are times where I would have hoped that it would have had more impact than it did. But we can draw attention to an issue from regulators. I also think what we teach our students shapes how they’re going to view the world. By doing research, we can do a better job of teaching them. It carries that influence years down the road.
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity. Photos by Danielle Lawrence.