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Foster Business Research Group

The Foster Business Research Group (FBRG) is a partnership between the Foster School of Business and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It is an opportunity for currently enrolled Foster MBA students to gain hands-on experience conducting short-term research and data analysis on current issues for the Gates Foundation’s staff.

Our program has two goals:

  • Train and increase capacity of University of Washington students to engage in and produce timely and relevant applied research for use in a real-world setting.
  • Provide high-quality research and analysis that will support the development of strategic planning and project execution in the field of K-12 U.S. Education.

FBRG is a partnership with the U.S. Programs/Education division within the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Via this partnership, students and their faculty mentors conduct research and analysis on current topics for the College Ready and Postsecondary Success teams of the U.S. Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. FBRG undertakes these projects alone but could potentially partner in the future with the UW’s College of Education.

Projects can last one to several academic quarters and vary greatly in format, content, and skills required, ranging from landscape analysis to quantitative modeling. Projects topics are protected by a nondisclosure agreement, and only very basic information about the topics can be shared outside of those who are working on each project.

Click on the headings to learn more.

The current application cycle has closed. Please check back for updates.

Program Overview: The University of Washington has a collaborative program with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that pairs students and faculty from multiple schools at the University of Washington, including the Foster School of Business, the Department of Global Health (START), Evans School of Public Affairs (EPAR), and College of Education to provide research and analytical support to the Foundation’s Global Health, Global Development, and U.S. [Education] Programs. The Foundation requires high quality, expeditious data and analysis to meet the daily information needs and the longer-term objectives of their strategic plans. The Global Business Center works specifically with the Gates Foundation U.S. Programs/Education division.

Position Summary: These are exciting opportunities to develop practical skills in applied research and analysis, and work closely with faculty members to receive training, support and guidance. Specific projects depend on foundation requests, but may include research briefs (4-6 pages), literature reviews or background research, and data support related to the foundation’s strategies or grant-making programs in U.S. Education. Work also often includes data or financial analysis, presentations, market research and/or analysis, and creation or improvement of toolkits or data frameworks.

FBRG pairs students with faculty to work on issues related to US Education.

Eugenia Yang, MBA 2023

Faculty Mentors

Warren Boeker
Professor of Management
Warren Boeker has taught at the Foster School of Business since 1998, where he is the Douglas Olesen/Battelle Chaired Professor of Management and past Chair of the Department of Management and Organization. Professor Boeker’s recent research has examined the dynamics of strategy formulation and execution in organizations at a corporate and business level. His other work focuses on the innovation process and organizational creativity, including idea generation, developing products into profitable businesses, and diffusing ideas throughout the organization.

Mark Hillier
Associate Professor, Quantitative Methods
Mark Hillier is an Associate Professor in the Information Systems and Operations Management Department. His primary research interests are in modeling of operations management issues, including leveraging component commonality, delayed product differentiation, and centralization; improving the efficiency of unpaced production lines; and optimizing warehouse policies. He has numerous publications in top research journals including Operations Research, and IIE Transactions. His teaching focuses on spreadsheet modeling, optimization, and simulation.

Michael Johnson
Assistant Professor, Organizational Behavior
Michael D. Johnson is an associate professor of management and organization in the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington. After working for sixteen years in the non-profit sector both in the US and in South Africa, Michael received his Ph.D. in organizational behavior and human resource management from Michigan State University. His research focuses primarily on groups and teams, identity, leadership, and affect. He teaches leading teams and organizations, leading organizational change, and international business in four of Foster’s MBA programs.

Ed Rice
Associate Professor, Finance & Business Economics
Ed Rice is an Associate Professor of Finance and Business Economics at the Foster School specializing in corporate control, general corporate finance, and applied microeconomics. While at the UW for over 30 years, he has served as the Finance Area Coordinator for the PhD Program for many years, and served as Chair of the Foster School Doctoral Program Committee for several of those. Previously,he served as the Faculty Director of the Foster School E-Business Program and as the Chair of the Business Administration Faculty Council. Professor Rice has won multiple awards for both his research and MBA courses.

Kevin Steensma
Professor of Management and Evert McCabe Faculty Fellow
Steensma is a Professor of Management at the University of Washington, Seattle. Prior to his appointment in 2000, Professor Steensma was on the faculty at the Pennsylvania State University. Steensma received a bachelor’s of science in chemistry and an MBA from Washington State University. He worked in software industry prior to returning to Indiana University for his Ph.D. in Strategic and International Management. Steensma teaches Global Strategy in the MBA, Executive MBA, and executive education programs at the University of Washington. His research focuses on the formation of technology and manufacturing alliances, and intellectual property strategy. He has published articles in many leading management and strategy journals.

Program Administration

Tom Lee
Hughes M. Blake Professor of Management
Thomas W. Lee is the Hughes M. Blake Professor of Management and former Associate Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs at the Foster School of Business. His primary research interests include employee loyalty, retention and turnover, and work motivation. Over the years, Tom published over 80 academic articles and authored 1 book. He has won numerous research awards and served as Editor of the Academy of Management Journal and as President of the Academy of Management. Tom currently serves on the editorial board at the Journal of Applied Psychology, and he has served on 7 other editorial boards including Academy of Management Journal, Human Resource Management Journal, Human Resources Management Review, Journal of Management, Journal of Vocational Behavior, Organizational Research Methods and Personnel Psychology. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Management and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Kirsten Aoyama
Director, FBRG Partnership Advisor
Kirsten Aoyama has been the director of the UW Global Business Center for over 20 years. The GBC transforms students into global business problem solvers through innovative programs and opportunities for hands-on experience with global markets of the future. Her prior professional experience includes marketing to clients in Asia, Europe and the Middle East for URS Corporation, the development of international air service at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and leadership of an entrepreneurial effort to market airport operations and management expertise worldwide. Kirsten speaks Japanese and received a Fulbright Grant to Japan. She serves on the campus-wide advisory board to the Office of Global Affairs, the advisory board of the Trade Development Alliance, and is the Founding President and current Treasurer of the Fulbright Association’s Greater Puget Sound Chapter. She received the Executive Development Program Certificate from the UW Foster School of Business, an MA in Japanese Studies from the UW’s Jackson School of International Studies, and a BA in Asian Studies from Tufts University.

Learn about previous FBRG Student Researchers:

Nick Amland, MBA 2015

Anand Ankur, MBA 2014

Jonathan Bannick, MBA 2022

Joelle Bassily, MBA 2012

Jake Berg, MBA 2021

Xianjin Cai, MBA 2022

Otis Chantharangsy, MBA 2019

Katie Collier, MBA/MPA 2013

Sam French, MBA 2018

Haid Garrett, MBA 2013

Sasha Gourevitch, MBA 2015

Kyle Graves, MBA 2018

Stephanie Graves, MBA 2020

Rob Hackleman, MBA 2013

Ken Horenstein, MBA 2016

Jorie Kirshbaum, MBA 2018

Krish Lakshmipathy, MBA 2014

Morgan Leinberry, MBA 2021

Nancy Li, MBA 2020

Amy McCluskie, MBA 2014

Cynthia Miller, MBA 2012

Graham Mills, Evening MBA 2015

Anna Nordstrom, MBA 2017

Ingrid Osei, MBA 2014

Ryan Osher, MBA 2015

Maggie Polachek, MBA 2020

Dayna Polstein, MBA 2022

Carly Presho-Dunne, MBA 2021

Prashanthi Shankar, MBA 2021

Manasa Ashok Shivanna, MBA 2014

JB Simpkins, MBA 2020

Eric Slagle, MBA 2013

Nick Smith, MBA 2017

Trevor Smith, MBA 2020

Diana Sobers, MBA 2021

Walter Thorn, MBA 2013

Kris Weum, MBA 2013

Jay Winzler, MBA 2013

Christie (Youde) Baird, MBA 2013

Brandon Young, MBA 2022