Huseyn Abdulla is the first Mays PhD student to receive a Texas A&M Distinguished Graduate Student Award from Texas A&M’s Association of Former Students and the University’s Graduate and Professional School.

The award is given to outstanding graduate students to recognize their exceptional achievements in the areas of research or teaching. Just over one dozen graduate students (university-wide) receive this award annually. The Association of Former Students presents a framed certificate of achievement and a custom gold watch to the honorees to commemorate their accomplishments.

Huseyn Abdulla – who received this significant award because of the quality of his scholarly research – has, to date, published three articles in top-tier, Class A academic journals. His pipeline of current projects suggests that additional publications in major journals are forthcoming. We visited with some of Huseyn’s advisors to gain a broader understanding of his achievements in terms of scholarly research.

The sheer volume of high-quality research that Abdulla engages in across multiple disciplines differentiates him from his PhD student peers, particularly those earning their degree in a business discipline. Chair of the Mays’ Ph.D. coordinators Dr. Sean McGuire states it this way. “If a student in a non-scientific field has one “A” publication upon graduating, it is exceptional; so, for a Mays doctoral candidate to have authorship or co-authorship on three, before graduating, is truly impressive.”

Another distinguishing attribute for Abdulla is his relentless commitment to engaging the scientific process appropriately as a foundation for completing research projects. With a background in industrial engineering, he entered the Mays’ PhD program with a strong commitment to a scientific approach. “Huseyn quickly set himself apart with his instinctive prioritization of the scientific method,” shared Bob and Kelly Jordan Professor in Business, and Huseyn’s PhD advisor, Dr. James Abbey. “This can be a sticking point for high-level behavioral scholars – and to address this challenge so early in his career – is exceptional.” Dr. Michael Ketzenberg, Abdulla’s other advisor, agrees. “But not only that, “usually it’s the advisor that sets the agenda and helps to direct the research, in the case of Huseyn, his passion and discipline has him leading and his advisors often playing catchup. Quite the rarity.”

Huseyn is dedicated to achieving positive results from his own program of scholarly research and is dedicated to helping others be productive scholars, too. In the highly competitive space of post-graduate studies, Abdulla helps his peers elevate the quality of their research initiatives. Abbey elaborates: “Huseyn has been a driving force in pushing other Ph.D. students to excel, working closely to boost the proficiency and skills of his peers to see their research thrive. This is not a common trait of Ph.D. candidates.”

Abdulla’s research addresses pressing challenges in global markets. Studying within the department of Information and Operations Management (INFO), he has had opportunities to focus his research in areas that currently, have relevance for individuals, organizations, and societies. Three years ago, consumers may not have had an acute awareness of the impact supply chain management had on their daily lives. However, the pandemic created supply chain disruptions from inventory and logistics to production and design with resulting effects on business and consumers alike. “For his part, Huseyn is studying supply chain at this critical moment when it’s top-of-mind at the average dinner table, and his research is really applicable to everyone,” says McGuire.

Today, Huseyn’s research focuses predominantly on a notable pain-point in the Information Systems space – consumer returns. “Even pre-pandemic, Huseyn was passionately tackling the issue of consumer returns – which have now nearly doubled from $350 billion to well over $600 billion in the U.S. alone during Covid,” notes Abbey. Abdulla’s work adds to the scholarly literature and to managerial practice as well as dollar returns of the magnitude being experienced today have significant global consequences both fiscally and environmentally. From an environmental perspective, millions of tons of waste are expected to result from such an inordinate volume of returns. “Information systems are essential to helping monitor, analyze, and improve our reactions to ever-evolving global economic forces – this area of study is central to how we emerge and thrive in the post-pandemic landscape,” shares Abbey. “As such, our students play a pivotal role in informing how business will function moving forward. Huseyn and his breakthrough research are a standout example of the relevance and importance of this work.”

Under the leadership and guidance of Department Chair, Dr. Richard Metters, the Texas A&M INFO department has moved from a top 50 ranking to a top 10 ranking in scholarly output over the last decade. Because of this, its draw for top PhD student talent such as Abdulla continues to increase. Across its five academic domains, Mays Business School maintains a strong commitment to facilitate PhD students’ efforts as they seek to become prominent academic scholars capable of both generating new knowledge and conveying that knowledge while working with active learners.

Abdulla receiving this award provides a powerful signal to current PhD students and to those evaluating the possibility of completing their PhD degree at Mays Business School. As McGuire notes, “Abdulla’s recognition for excellence by the university says to the school’s PhD students that “There are no limitations on your success when you come to our Ph.D. program. From faculty and administrative support to other students and the Dean’s office, everything is in place for exceptionally bright and hard-working students to excel – the sky is the limit.” “In many ways,” McGuire says, “this award reflects that.”

“Dr. Metters and the INFO department’s faculty have fostered a culture of optimal support for Ph.D. scholars,” says Mays Business School’s Interim Dean Dr. R. Duane Ireland. “This is evidenced by the prestigious honor awarded to Huseyn Abdulla.” “We couldn’t be prouder of Huseyn and this outstanding honor,” shared Associate Dean of Graduate Programs, Dr. Jerry Strawser. “In my 25-year tenure with the University, this is the first Mays Doctoral candidate I’ve been privileged to see receive such an award.”

Texas A&M University hosted a reception on Monday, April 25th to honor Huseyn and others receiving the Distinguished Graduate Student award.