Ph.D. Student Follows his Passion and Dreams to an Education in the United States
I was searching for a topic that balanced academic significance with real-world applicability…this eventually motivated me to pursue a Ph.D. in quantitative marketing, focusing on sharing economy research, which continues to be my area of study.
Have you ever thought of how far your passions can take you? Ali Kozehgaran ’25 Ph.D. knows the answer to this question all too well. Less than three years ago, he left his home country of Iran to pursue a doctoral degree halfway across the world at the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University.
Back in Iran, Kozehgaran studied industrial engineering at Sharif University of Technology with a focus on system optimization. He was passionate about coming to the United States to continue his education and was driven by the ample opportunities and high-quality education available, specifically in New York. He was accepted at the Whitman School in 2020. Although he was ready to study at Whitman, it would be another year until Kozehgaran and his wife, Ghonche Khalaj, would arrive in Syracuse due to visa and COVID-19 complications.
During his master's program back in Iran, Kozehgaran said that he first became interested in marketing when he was researching for his master’s thesis. “I was searching for a topic that balanced academic significance with real-world applicability…this eventually motivated me to pursue a Ph.D. in quantitative marketing, focusing on sharing economy research, which continues to be my area of study,” he explains.
Because he is pursuing a niche area of study, Kozehgaran appreciates that Whitman’s Ph.D. program is more unique than most. “The Ph.D. program offers ample freedom to pursue individual research interests and implement creative ideas," he says.
Kozehgaran acknowledges the staff and faculty of Whitman as being a driving force in his academics. He states that they “are always available to assist and provide guidance, fostering a supportive atmosphere for students…Whitman's friendly environment fosters a sense of comfort, where everyone is supportive and encouraging.”
As part of his personal goals at Whitman, Kozehgaran said that setting boundaries was an important step in the research process. “There's no set boundary to how deep your research can go or how complex your methods can become, but time is limited”, he says. So, balancing time and quality became important assets to the success of his research papers. By talking to scholars and professors, and also reading other Ph.D. students' work, he felt more prepared in his own endeavors. Kozehgaran believes that his biggest accomplishment thus far has been taking and passing the comprehensive exam that he took two years into his Ph.D. program.
His advice to students who are interested in applying to the Ph.D. program includes finding your passions, having comprehensive data to back up your research and being open to sharing your research with faculty. “Receiving feedback and critiques from others can help identify challenges and problems in your work more quickly, ultimately saving you a significant amount of time,” he says.
Even though Kozehgaran had to overcome several hurdles to get to Whitman, he cannot wait to see where the future takes him next. “Although I've presented at a few conferences, I feel like my journey as a researcher has just begun,” he states.
By Rylee Pohancsek