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 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 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
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
View Badraoui's CV
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,
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 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
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.
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
View Li's CV
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
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 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 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 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 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 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 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.
Co-instructor, fall 2021
HRTM 260 – Hotel Management
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
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
HRTM 260 – Hotel Managment
HRTM 280 – Foundations of Tourism
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.