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College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

  • 2019 Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management Ph.D. students pose with Ph.D. Program Director Robin DiPietro

Our Ph.D. Students

The School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management is home to one of the nation’s premier graduate programs with a leading-edge curriculum and an innovative learning environment emphasizing leadership development for current and future researchers and educators. We are home to four research centers with internationally renowned faculty experts in tourism policy, destination management and marketing, human resources, customer decision making, revenue management, foodservice management, lodging and governance, among others.

Meet our Ph.D. Students 

As one of our Ph.D students, you'll have opportunities for research, field studies and work experience in premier national and international tourist destinations in an atmosphere that cultivates the lifelong business relationships and networking opportunities you’ll need to advance your career. 

Alex Arhin headshot

Alex Arhin

Alex Arhin is from the Central Region of Ghana, West Africa. Arhin received his B.S. in tourism management from the University of Cape Coast and his M.S. in tourism management and planning from the University of Girona. His research interests are in the areas of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies and policies, and sustainable tourism development. In addition to his studies, Arhin enjoys traveling and gastronomy.

Ali Iskender

Ali Iskender

Ali Iskender was born in Turkey to parents from Macedonia and Kosovo. Iskender obtained his bachelor's of science in economics from the University of Anatolia and in business administration from Uludag University, Turkey. He also participated in a one-year study at Opole University of Technology, Poland. After several years' experience working in accounting and finance, he attended the University of Florida, where he obtained his master’s degree in tourism. His research interests include film-tourism, the impact of popular culture on travel behaviors, and branding and marketing in tourism.

Iskender's studies are funded by the Richardson Family SmartState Center of Economic Excellence in Tourism and Economic Development under the direction of Simon Hudson, Ph.D.

Su Gibson headshot

Su Gibson

Su Gibson is from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Gibson earned a B.A. in clinical psychology from the University of South Carolina, which included a one-year study abroad at the University of Hull in England. She earned an MBA in international business from the Darla Moore School of Business, also at UofSC, which included an internship at a spa consulting firm in London and a course at the Whu Otto Beisheim School of Management in Germany. She has more than 20 years of industry experience in the hospitality, including traveling nationally and internationally as an inspector for the Forbes Travel Guide. She has taught college courses in hospitality management for more than a decade. Su currently serves as the assistant director for the University of South Carolina Beaufort Center for Event Management and Hospitality Training where she teaches undergraduate courses. Her research interests include service quality evaluation and management, and the emotions, setting, language and actions related to feelings of being welcome or unwelcome in a service environment.
View Gibson's CV here.

Hui Jiang

Hui Jiang

Hui Jiang is from Shandong, China, and received a B.S. in hospitality management and an M.S. in tourism management from Sun Yat-sen University. His research interests include tourism investment, destination marketing and social networking.

Dan Jin

Dan Jin, post-doctoral researcher

Dan Jin, received her B.A. in business English from Xi’an International Studies University, Shaanxi, China, and her M.S. in hospitality and tourism management from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind. Jin's research interests are in the areas of versatility in service failure and recovery, customer relationship management (CRM), and social psychology in the restaurant and hotel industry.

Jin is funded in her studies by HRTM’s International Institute for Foodservice Research and Education under the direction of Robin DiPietro, Ph.D.
View Jin's CV here.

Published research:

Jin, D., Kim, K., & DiPietro, R. B. (2020). Workplace incivility in restaurants: Who’s the real victim? Employee deviance and customer reciprocity. International Journal of Hospitality Management86, 102459. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhm.2020.102459

Jim Johnson headshot

Jim Johnson

An adjunct instructor at two universities, Jim Johnson received his B.A. in English from the College of Charleston and his master's of business administration from Claflin University. Johnson's research interests include rural tourism, agritourism and local food systems. As a secondary tourism focus, Johnson is also interested in outdoor hiking and recreation tourism. He is chair of a nonprofit health-related entity which manages a Duke Endowment Grant in the region, Healthy People Healthy Carolinas. 
View Johnson's CV here.

Hyunsu Kim

Hyunsu "Henry" Kim

Hyunsu "Henry" Kim, from South Korea, received his B.A. in international studies and M.S. in convention exhibition management from Kyunghee University, South Korea. Kim’s research interests are in technology-driven consumer behavior and marketing management in the hospitality industry.
View Kim's CV here.

Ningqiao Li

Ning-Qiao Li

Ning-Qiao Li is from Hunan Province, China. Li received a B.S. in Tourism Management from Shandong University and an M.S. in Tourism and Hospitality Management from Xiamen University. Li's research interests are in the areas of destination marketing and tourism economics. 
View Li's CV here.

Xiao (Forest) Ma

Xiao "Forest" Ma

Xiao "Forest" Ma is from Anshan, Liaoning, in China, receiving a B.S. in English from Xi’an International Studies University and an M.S. in Hotel and Restaurant Management from the Conrad N. Hilton College at the University of Houston. Ma’s research interests include consumer behavior and education in food and beverage management. 
View Ma's CV here.

Conference presentation:

Ma, F., & DiPietro, R. B. (2020 January 3-5). "Effects of craft brewery brand collaboration on customer’ willingness to pay and purchase intention." [Poster presentation]. 25th Annual Graduate Education and Graduate Student Research Conference in Hospitality and Tourism, Las Vegas, Nev.

Somang Min

Somang Min

Somang Min is from Seoul, South Korea. Min received her B.S. from Korea University, Korea, and her M.S. in hospitality business management from Michigan State University. Min's particular research interest is in service marketing, consumer behavior, and technology in the hospitality industry.

Odosashvili Lali headshot

Lali Odosashavili

Lali Odosashavili is from Tbilisi, Georgia, where she received her B.S. in Business Administration - Tourism and her MBA in tourism from Ilia State University and her M.S. in hospitality management from the University of Delaware. Her research areas of interest include legislation in tourism, the impact of tourism on a country's development and medical tourism.  Her hobbies include disc golf, archery and reading.
View Odasashavili's CV here.

Ghazal Shams headshot

Ghazal Shams

Ghazal Shams is from Isfahan, Iran, and received her B.S. in statistics from Payame Noor University and her M.S. in business administration with a focus in marketing from the Islamic Azad University. Shams's research areas of interest are in the areas of services marketing, customer experience, customer satisfaction and loyalty, service innovation and marketing strategy. 

Published research:

Abdur Rehman, M., Khan, S., Osman, I., Aziz, K. & Shams, G. (2021). “Revisiting the corporate image through service quality and relationship marketing: Empirical evidence from Malaysian and Saudi Arabian Takaful customers,” Journal of Islamic Accounting and Business Research, ahead-of-print.

Osman, I., Abdur Rehman, M., Mohy Ul Din, S., Shams, G. & Aziz, K. (2021). “Let’s get acquainted: An empirical study on Takaful customer-service provider relationships from Saudi Arabian perspectives,” Journal of Islamic Marketing, ahead-of-print.

Shams, G., Rather, R., Abdur Rehman, M. & Lodhi, R.N. (2020). “Hospitality-based service recovery, outcome favourability, satisfaction with service recovery and consequent customer loyalty: An empirical analysis.” International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research.

Shams, G., Rehman, M.A., Samad, S. & Oikarinen, E-L. (2020). “Exploring customer’s mobile banking experiences and expectations among generations X, Y and Z.” Journal of Financial Services Marketing. Vol. 25 No 1, pp. 1-13.

Shams, G., Rehman, M.A., Samad, S. & Rather, R.A. (2020). “The impact of the magnitude of service failure and complaint handling on satisfaction in the banking industry: An investigation to a pathway of brand credibility.” Journal of Financial Services Marketing. Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 24-35.

Learn more about Shams at Google Scholar, Researchgate  and LinkedIn.

Damla Sonmez headshot

Damla Sonmez

Damla Sonmez is from Antalya, Turkey, where she earned her B.S. degree in business administration from Antalya Bilim University. Sonmez earned her M.S. in Hospitality Management from the University of Florida. Her research interests are in the areas of consumer behavior, leadership in hospitality and organizational behavior. In her spare time, she enjoys photography, cooking and music.
View Sonmez's CV here.

Swechchha Subedi

Swechchha Subedi

Swechchha Subedi is from Pokhara, Nepal, and received her B.S. in business administration from Kathmandu University and her M.S. in hospitality and tourism management from Oklahoma State University. Her research areas of interest include tourism planning, the role of government in tourism, and crisis management. In her spare time, Swechchha enjoys travel, cooking and movies.

Courses taught:

Co-instructor,  fall 2021
HRTM 260 – Hotel Management

Hongxiao "Charlotte" Yu

Hongxiao "Charlotte" Yu

Hongxiao "Charlotte" Yu hails from Wuhan, China, and received her B.S. and M.S. in education from Central China Normal University. Her research areas of interest include destination marketing and tourist behavior. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D., Charlotte worked as a business development manager with Tencent Company and SOHU Company.  Yu teaches HRTM 110 – Introduction to the Hospitality Industry.
View Yu's CV here.

Xiaonan (Hanna)h Zhang headshot

Xiaonan  "Hannah" Zhang

Xiaonan "Hannah" Zhang is from Henan, China. She received her bachelor's degree in tourism management from Henan Normal University and her master's degree in hospitality management from Beijing International Studies University. Her research interests are in the areas of consumer behavior toward value co-creation in the sharing economy, and online review in the tourism and hospitality industries.
View Zhang's CV here.

Courses taught:

HRTM 260 – Hotel Managment
HRTM 280 – Foundations of Tourism

Published research:

Li, H., Meng, F., & Zhang, X. (2021). "Are you happy for me? How sharing positive tourism experiences through social media affects post-trip evaluations. Journal of Travel Research, 0047287521995253.

Zhang, X., Meng, F., & Li, H. (January, 2020). "How local’s attitude contributes to tourist’s place attachment and well-being?" The 25th Annual Graduate Education & Graduate Student Research Conference in Hospitality and Tourism, Las Vegas, Nev.


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