PhD student earns Certificate of Outstanding Achievement

Minmo Gahng was honored with a Certificate of Outstanding Achievement as part of the University of Florida’s International Student Achievement Awards. Gahng is a fourth-year PhD student in finance.

“I was very excited when I heard the news about this award,” Gahng said. “I can’t thank enough my advisors – Jay Ritter, Mark Flannery, and Andy Naranjo – for their guidance and support.”

Gahng researches fast-growing entrepreneurial firms, studying how they finance their growth and innovation in the capital market. For his first research project, Minmo studied the economics of Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs), an alternative way to raise capital and go public, with his advisor Dr. Ritter and UF Finance PhD alumni Donghang Zhang, currently a finance professor at the University of South Carolina.

The research has attracted a wide range of attention from both academics and practitioners. Gahng appeared in the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg for the research, and key results of the research have been cited by Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, and the recent regulation proposed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

For his dissertation, Gahng studies the intersection of venture capital and labor economics to explore how the venture capital financing contract plays a role in attracting human capital.

“Attracting and motivating talented workers is one of the most important factors determining the success of the young and entrepreneurial firms,” Gahng said. “I am excited to work on this important topic, and I hope my research can have positive real-world impacts.”

Gahng taught Financial Management (FIN:4414), the four-credit capstone course for 16 senior finance major students in Summer 2021. He received enthusiastic student feedback with an average instructor evaluation of 4.9/5.0 (department average: 3.8/5.0). Based on his teaching experience, Gahng has developed his teaching philosophy involving real-world impact and personal connections.

“I want my classes to be relevant for students’ careers since I teach business school classes,” Gahng said.  

He organized his course from the perspective of finance managers working for growing biotechnology companies amid the COVID-19 outbreak. He asked his students to take the class as if their job was recommending important investment (e.g., whether to develop vaccines, therapeutics, both, or nothing) and financing decisions (e.g., whether to externally finance the development cost) to the top management of those companies. The effectiveness of this method is attested by the students’ positive feedback – many students mentioned that this real-world setting helped them immerse themselves in the class.

Gahng worked to build a personal relationship with each student. On the first day of class, he surveyed students asking about their career goals, internship experiences, and how they wanted this class to help them. This helped Gahng to build a continuing mentoring relationship with the students.

“Receiving notes of gratitude from students has been one of the most rewarding moments in my career,” he said.

Gahng also collaborates with people and institutions outside the University of Florida, learning from and contributing to the academic profession. He worked as the teaching assistant for the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Entrepreneurship Research Boot Camp and also co-organized the student-led Workshop on Entrepreneurial Finance and Innovation (WEFI). Both events invite Ph.D. students interested in entrepreneurial finance from all around the world, serving as a platform for learning and collaborating.

Gahng graduated from Yonsei University in Korea with a BBA degree in 2011 and worked at Korea Development Bank and Export-Import Bank of Korea (K-EXIM) as a loan officer. He later earned an MA in economics from Duke University in 2017, prior to joining the PhD program in finance at the University of Florida.