Skip to main content

16th Annual Robert Ferber and Seymour Sudman Dissertation Awards

16th Annual Robert Ferber and Seymour Sudman Dissertation Award Winners

During a ceremony at the Survey Research Laboratory on the Urbana campus, three doctoral students were honored for the quality of their work utilizing survey research methodology. The two winners of the 2017 Robert Ferber and Seymour Sudman Dissertation Awards received $2000 awards and plaques commemorating their achievement. One other student received an honorable mention certificate and $200. Drs. Ferber and Sudman, in whose memory the awards were established, were eminent scholars at the University of Illinois in the field of survey research.

Nicolas Bottan, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Economics, is the winner of the Robert Ferber Dissertation Award. His advisor is Dan Bernhardt and his dissertation— Choosing Your Pond: Revealed-Preference Estimates of Relative Income Concerns—investigates whether individuals care more—or less—about their absolute consumption levels vis-à-vis their relative consumption (i.e., how much they consume relative to other individuals). The research shows that, holding absolute consumption constant, the average individual prefers higher relative consumption (i.e., they have preferences for being relatively richer than others).

Sung-wan Kang, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Social Work, is the winner of the Seymour Sudman Dissertation Award.  His advisor is Min Zhan and his dissertation— The Influence of Cognitive Impairment on Health Behaviors among Older Adults: The Moderating Role of Living Arrangements—seeks to understand the extent to which cognitive impairment in older adults influences their engagement in health behaviors and whether or not this relationship differs by living arrangements. Understanding how cognition of older adults influences the engagement in physical activity, smoking and drinking status, and use of preventive health services could provide important implications for health promotion and disease prevention for cognitively impaired older adults.

Joseph Yun, a Ph.D. candidate in the Illinois Informatics Institute received the Seymour Sudman Honorable Mention. His advisor is Brittany Duff and his dissertation is entitled Analyzing the Boundaries of Balance Theory in Evaluating Cause-Related Marketing Compatibility.

Past winners of the Dissertation Awards can be viewed at:

For more information, contact the Survey Research Laboratory at 217-333-4276 or

Photo: From left to right: Joseph Yun, Nicolas Bottan, Sung-wan Kang