In 2017, David Larsen, BBA ‘17, was in his final year as a finance student when he met up with Jason Jiang, assistant professor in the Department of Finance, and asked to pick his professor’s brain.
This conversation led to a partnership with Professor Jiang and a published paper in a good academic journal — an unusual achievement for an undergraduate student. The paper “R&D investment intensity and jump volatility of stock price” was recently published in the Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, an ABS 3-point journal.
“Outside of class, I used to think about different ideas in finance,” says Larsen. “I spoke to Professor Jiang about stocks and investments and he told me to get back to him with some initial results and that really started the whole process.”
Jiang’s research interests lie in the fields of innovation, corporate finance, real estate and financial econometrics. Impressed by this conversation with Larsen, Jiang decided it was a good idea to work with the student on a project that investigated how a company’s investment in research and development affects its stock price.
“David was one of the top students in my class and based on his good data analytics skills and his passion for finance and academic research—which is rare for undergraduate students—I saw this as an opportunity for him to realize his potential,” says Jiang.
Larsen’s experience shows students and faculty that there are avenues outside of the classroom to continue the learning process.
Larsen and Jiang’s relationship also highlights the importance of student-faculty collaboration to professional development.
Larsen currently works as a data engineer at Embold Health, where he works to ensure that data models used by the research and product teams are up to date and meet both teams’ requirements. According to Jiang, their research collaboration was key in helping Larsen obtain this role at Embold Health.
“His current employer contacted me during his interview process and asked questions about his research and data analytics skills. I was able to tell them about his good work on our paper, and I believe that that helped him out,” says Jiang.
Larsen also credits the work done on their paper for helping him prepare for his current professional role.
“Doing this research really gave me the experience and the skills that are useful for what I do now,” says Larsen. “My job involves a lot of coding and data work, and I started learning those skills when we first started this project.
Larsen and Jiang are now working on a new project that involves textual analysis of financial documents and their effect on the stock market. The personal and professional bond they formed on their last project made it very easy to transition into this new partnership.
“Professor Jiang and I have common research interests and we also have a very good personal relationship which helps us get results effectively,” says Larsen.
“Before COVID, we used to have dinner sometimes. Once, I even drove his city to have lunch with him,” says Jiang, with a smile.
Larsen and Jiang show that it is possible to form a student-faculty relationship that is long-lasting and impactful even after graduation. If students want to learn more about a concept, reach out to your professors. Together, achievements such as successful research projects or published papers can be realized.