President Kathleen Waldron, Zicklin School of Business Dean John Elliott, and other Baruch VIPs recently attended a ceremony marking the formal opening of the Research and Statistical Consulting Laboratory on the 11th floor of the Newman Vertical Campus. The new facility, made up of ‘twin’ or conjoined computer banks, promises to provide a big boost to research activities at Baruch College.
The new laboratory is part of President Waldron’s strategic initiative for the College and support for it was provided by the Baruch College Fund. “I am delighted with this new facility,” President Waldron said, “especially because it will transcend departmental boundaries and provide practical help to faculty across the academic spectrum.”
Under the direction of Professors Shulamith Gross and Karl Lang, both members of the statistics sector of the SCIS department, the facility has a dual mission. The consulting arm, directed by Gross, will offer assistance to Baruch faculty conducting quantitative analyses across departments and disciplines. The experimental branch, under Lang, will conduct research on how people interact with their information systems and how electronic markets work.
“Our role in the business school really has to do with data, and advising faculty in other departments on how to do really good empirical research. Not everyone can deal with sophisticated or specialized software,” Gross noted. “Sometimes people make analyses that are totally irrelevant to the data.”
Professor Gross, who has been at Baruch for more than three decades, spent the 2002-2003 academic year in Washington D.C. as the director of the statistics program at the National Science Foundation. She expressed delight at the “new emphasis on research” she sees all around her. “I used to be sad when I had to go outside [the College] for research partners,” Gross recalled. Now, she said, “we can have a role in making methodology from one field relevant to another.”
Speaking about the work taking place in the experimental lab, Lang explained that it falls into two broad categories. First, behavioral research, which looks at how people use their computers and software. Second, electronic markets, “such as eBay, online auctions, stock trading sites and social networks” – all of which can be modeled and replicated in the lab. By doing this, Lang, said, “we can study market mechanisms and how they affect performance.”