Student Research Showcase: Riley McGrath

We are in the midst of the digital age: a time when a huge amount of information is widely available to many, thanks to technology. Cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, big data analysis and blockchain technology are concepts that affect nearly every person on the planet.

Yet how do these concepts affect the world of work — and specifically, the work of managers and business leaders, tasked with guiding organizations through the challenges these concepts bring?

That’s the question at the heart of a collaborative study by Riley McGrath, a junior finance major at UCCS, and James Van Scotter, Associate Professor of Strategy within the College of Business at UCCS.

As part of the study, a yearlong Undergraduate Research Academy project, McGrath and Van Scotter aim to learn more about a specific role that business leaders fill in this digital age: providing “Strategic Information Leadership.” Because cybersecurity, technology and even remote work are shaping organizations and their leaders, McGrath and Van Scotter’s research will underscore the importance of strategic leadership in a technology-driven world.

To share more, McGrath answered eight questions about her research, her partnership with Van Scotter and her best advice for students interested in future research opportunities.

1. What was your path to UCCS and working with your faculty mentor?

Riley McGrath is a junior finance major at UCCS.

I came to UCCS after transferring from a larger public university. I was interested in UCCS because of the smaller class sizes and the ability to have personal connections with my professors. Dr. Meghan Stidd, who leads the ROAR program in the business school, connected me with Dr. Van Scotter. After hearing about his research and how it aligned with my current interests, I felt it would be a great fit for the summer.

2. If you were describing your research/creative work to someone outside of your field, what would you say?

Our research is a literature review exploring the effects that cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, big data analysis, blockchain technology and remote work are having on management and leadership. Specifically, we will be looking into the role we are calling “Strategic Information Leadership” and how important it is to have such leaders in a technology-driven world.

3. Which concept or discovery from your research/creative work most excites, invigorates or inspires you? 

I am minoring in Business Analytics and have enjoyed seeing how it plays a role in organizations today.

4. Describe how and why this research/creative work was started.  

Our research started because of the significant effects cybersecurity and technology are having on organizations and their leaders.

5. What has the experience of working with your faculty mentor and fellow researchers been like?       

I have had a great experience working with my faculty mentor and my fellow researchers. Dr. Van Scotter was very helpful in guiding us through the research process and was always there if we had any questions.

6. How has this work helped prepare you for your future in graduate school or your career?

After completing my bachelor’s degree, I plan to attend graduate school. This work has helped me to better deal with open-ended assignments and understand what research work entails, which I believe will assist me when it comes to graduate-level classes.

7. What has been the most memorable part of working on this project with your faculty mentor?

The most memorable part of working on this project was the weekly meetings with my faculty mentor and fellow researchers. I enjoyed getting to meet in person to discuss different ideas and our research work.

8. What advice would you give first-year students who are interested in working with a faculty mentor?

Going into this research project, I had never done any research work before and was not exactly sure what I was getting myself into. I would tell first-year students not to let a lack of experience hold them back from taking the opportunity to work with a faculty mentor.

The Undergraduate Research Academy encourages UCCS students to expand their education beyond the classroom through participation in research and creative projects while engaging in mentorship with UCCS faculty. The yearlong collaborative research projects further students’ professional and academic development while furthering faculty members’ research program goals.

UCCS celebrates this year’s cohort of Undergraduate Research Academy student and faculty researchers. All those interested in participating should visit the Undergraduate Research Academy website for more information.