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College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

  • 2022 Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management Ph.D. students pose with Ph.D. Program Director Kawon (Kathy) Kim

Our Ph.D. Students

The School of Hospitality 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. 

Katheldra Alexander headshot

Katheldra Alexander

Katheldra Alexander is a native of the Bahamas but has lived in North Carolina for 19 years. She graduated with a degree in hospitality management from Bethune-Cookman University and a M.S. in organizational leadership and change from Pfeiffer University.

Alexander has more than 20 years of industry experience specifically onsite foodservice operations servicing the higher education and corporate dining sectors. She has taught hospitality courses at the University of the Bahamas and held other training roles throughout her career. Her research interests include restaurant and food safety, diversity, equity and inclusion, and leadership and training. Katheldra is an inaugural fellow of the 2022 Bloomin’ Brands DE&I Fellowship for AHED (Alliance for Hospitality Equity & Diversity).

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 adaptation and crisis management. In addition to his studies, Arhin enjoys traveling.

Badr Badraoui head shot

Badr Badraoui

Badr Badraoui joined the College of HRSM in 2022 after earning a bachelor’s in international business from Pforzheim University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Germany and a master’s in business administration/major tourism from Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Switzerland. A native of Rabat, Morocco, Badraoui’s research interests include technological applications within the tourism and hospitality industry, customer experience, service management and experiential marketing. He has over 15 years of professional experience across seven countries and is fluent in four languages. In his spare time, Badraoui enjoys playing soccer, outdoor activities and visiting new places.
View Badraoui's CV

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 USC, 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

Yaqi Gong headshot

Yaqi Gong

Yaqi Gong is from Changsha, China. She received her B.S. in tourism management from Central China Normal University and her M.S. in recreation, park, and tourism management from the Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests include tourist online behavior, tourists’ interaction with technology, and ethical issues behind technology-enhanced tourism.

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. Her research interests include tourism investment, destination marketing and social networking.

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

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

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.

Lali Odosashvili headshot

Lali Odosashvili

Lali Odosashvili 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 Odosashvili's CV

Omid Oshriyeh headshot

Omid Oshriyeh

Omid Oshriyeh hails from Tehran, Iran. He received his Bachelor of Science in tourism management and a Master of Science in tourism management, specializing in tourism marketing, from the University of Tehran. Oshriyeh's current research interests revolve around the intersection of artificial intelligence, data science, and climate change and sustainability. His work aims to examine how these areas can be harnessed to tackle the challenges and opportunities confronting the hospitality industry, and how the industry can operate in a more sustainable and responsible manner. Prior to embarking on his doctoral studies, Omid accumulated several years of professional experience in the ICT and software industries, which furnished him with a comprehensive understanding of the intricacies of these fast-paced fields and has since shaped his academic and research pursuits. Additionally, Omid currently serves as the editorial associate for Tourism Analysis, a peer-reviewed journal.

Ghazal Shams headshot

Ghazal Shams

Ghazal Shams is from Isfahan, Iran, and received her B.S. in statistics and M.S. in business administration with a focus in marketing from Islamic Azad University. Shams's research interests are in services marketing, customer experience, service innovation, and technology-driven consumer behavior.

Learn more about Shams at Google Scholar and LinkedIn.

Damla Sonmez headshot

Damla Sonmez

Damla Sonmez is from Antalya, Turkey, where she earned her B.S. 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

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.

Xiaonan (Hannah) 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

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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