Whitman Voices

Introduction

Student Profile: Ying Zhang ’21

Student Profile: Ying Zhang ’21

Ying Zahn

Student Spotlight: Ying Zhang ’21

Hometown: Xi’an, China
Degree: Ph.D. in Accounting

Before deciding to earn her Ph.D., Ying Zhang ’21 already knew she had a keen interest in financial research. After completing a bachelor’s degree in China, Zhang continued her studies by earning a master’s degree in investment management with a minor in computer science in 2015 from Pace University. She then completed an internship as a tax planner at a public accounting firm in New York City, where she gained a better understanding of accounting.

The opportunity to dive deeper into topics that interested her and complete research was the reason Zhang left her corporate role to pursue an academic career.

She says, “I was interested in finance and accounting research, so I decided to pursue my Ph.D. After talking to David Harris, my advisor, during the interview part of the application process, I learned that we had common research interests and that the accounting department could provide me with great support.”

Zhang’s dissertation is focused on financial reporting quality. In her study, she proposes new measures that are simpler and more effective than existing ones in this area. These measures could provide researchers and investors with new tools for conducting further research and for investment decision-making.

She says, “Professor Harris has also been a great person to work with. We are co-authoring a couple of papers with interesting topics, and these projects are providing me with a solid background to achieve my goal of becoming a solid academic researcher.” Currently, the two have three research papers under review. One paper she is proud of – “A More Efficient and Effective Objective Measure of Financial Disclosure Quality: Omissions of Seven Key Financial Statement Variables” – is currently under review at Contemporary Accounting Research, one of the top accounting research journals.

Zhang admits, “Ph.D. life is tough in many ways, but it’s a great and valuable experience that can help shape me.” Her goal is to work as an assistant professor and eventually earn a tenured position.

She says, “Choosing to earn a Ph.D. has become one of the most important choices I’ve ever made for my life.”

Maya Bingaman
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