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Elena Martinescu and Julia Storch win SOM Awards for research on gossip and shopping emotions

19 April 2018

SOM, the research school of the Faculty of Economics and Business, recently presented the 2017 Awards for Best Graduate of the Research Master and best PhD Thesis. Julia Storch won € 1,000 and the title Best Graduate of the Research Master in Economics and Business for her thesis Mixed feelings, mixed baskets: How shopping emotions drive the relative healthiness of sequential food choices. Elena Martinescu won € 1,500 and the SOM Award for the best PhD research with her thesis Why we gossip: A functional perspective on the self-relevance of gossip for senders, receivers and targets.

Storch’s Master’s thesis, supervised by Prof. Koert van Ittersum and Dr Jing Wan, was awarded a 9. She is now working as a researcher at the Department of Marketing. ‘This award is a recognition and reward for my hard work’, says Storch.

Julia Storch
Julia Storch

‘My goal is to help consumers make healthier choices’

‘The globally rising obesity rates are cause for widespread concern. Supermarkets are the key focus of my research since a healthy shopping basket is a prerequisite for a healthy diet. If we can help consumers to make healthier choices in the supermarket, this may help us to curb the obesity epidemic. In my research, I investigate how the healthiness of shoppers’ choices evolves over grocery shopping trips, and how the emotions shoppers experience throughout this process shape their decisions. My overarching research agenda is to develop a real-time shopping feedback system to assist shoppers in improving the healthiness of their choices based on our insights.’

Surprised to win

The other two nominees were Manon Eikelenboom and Mitchell van den Adel. Eikelenboom has joined the University Campus Fryslân as a PhD student and Van den Adel works at FEB as a researcher. Storch: ‘I was surprised to win. I knew the other nominees; both of them did a very good job and also highly deserved to win this award.’

Elena Martinescu
Elena Martinescu

‘Gossip can be a functional behaviour’

Martinescu’s award-winning PhD thesis was supervised by Prof. Onne Janssen and Prof. Bernard Nijstad. Her thesis contains high quality chapters, one of which has already been published in the scientific journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin . Martinescu is now working as a lecturer at the Department of HRM&OB. ‘This award is very valuable for me; it is external validation and recognition of the value of my work’, says Martinescu. ‘Working on this topic was completely new for me. My supervisors supported me and encouraged me to pursue this novel project. So it feels good that other people also find it interesting.’

‘Gossip is a very basic and universal human behaviour. Gossip is widespread because it plays an important role in gathering information, influencing others and creating social bonds. My research is about why people gossip, what encourages them to start gossiping, and how they react to gossip about others, and about themselves. In this research, we investigated the perspectives of the three important actors in the gossip process: the senders, receivers and targets of gossip. I would really like to develop this topic further. Now I am just scratching the surface, there are many things that I could investigate.’

Find a topic that you are passionate about

The other nominees were Alec Minnema and Pieter IJtsma. Minnema now works as an Expert in Data Science at Ordina, and IJtsma works at the Faculty of Economics and Business as a lecturer and researcher. Martinescu: ‘My advice to any starting PhD student i s that you should find a topic that you are passionate about. A PhD can be a long and challenging process so it helps to be interested in the topic. Be strong and calm, and keep in mind that your supervisors are always there for you.’

Last modified:07 January 2021 3.48 p.m.
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