May 4, 2015 | Atlanta, GA
Sara Loughran Dommer is an assistant professor in the Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech. Recently, the Office of Faculty Affairs had the opportunity to learn more about Dommer and her time at Tech. Here’s what she said.
Tell us a little about your research.
I study how people’s perceptions of themselves affect their decisions as consumers. Specifically, I like to focus on consumers’ use of products and brands to express their self and identity. Thus, I research topics such as when and why consumers choose products that are associated with particular aspects of themselves (e.g., students, women, and Americans), the motivations underlying preferences for goods that differentiate oneself from others, and consumers’ deceptive use of goods to convince others that they are someone they are not.
What made you decide to work at Georgia Tech?
Georgia Tech was one of many schools I initially applied to in my last year of my Ph.D. program. After the first round of interviews, it was one of my favorite schools. After my campus visit, it was at the top of my list. When I received their offer, I was thrilled. First, Georgia Tech’s outstanding national and international reputation was really attractive to me. Second, during my interviews and from my research on the school, I really got the sense that the business school is on an upward trajectory. I found it very appealing to be a part of that growth and development. Finally, the location of the school couldn’t be better. Atlanta is just a fantastic city. Being able to work for a top university and live in a thriving and exciting city allows you to be happy both professionally and personally.
What are the top three reasons you’d recommend Georgia Tech to other faculty?
As a young faculty member, I feel extremely supported by my colleagues. My senior colleagues offer a lot of advice and assistance to me, both directly and indirectly, by bearing a lot of the burden of committee work and bureaucratic responsibilities. The sentiment here is, “You tell us what you need to be successful and we’ll do everything in our power to make it happen for you.” The collegiality is also something I appreciate. Everyone I have met here, both faculty and staff included, has been extremely kind and helpful. And then there are the students — they never cease to amaze me. It goes without saying that they are smart. They wouldn’t be here if they weren’t. What I have found most impressive, however, is what they do outside of the classroom. Many are holding part or full-time internships while attending school. Others are starting or running their own businesses. I have also had multiple undergraduate students express interest in academic research and ask to assist me on projects. One of those students is now developing her own research ideas and is testing them experimentally. The caliber of students here is top-notch and interacting with them has been a true pleasure.
What are a few things every faculty member should do while at Georgia Tech?
Attend a Georgia Tech football game. The traditions are fun and the stadium offers a beautiful view of downtown Atlanta. Eat at the Varsity. It’s an Atlanta institution and right next to campus. Attend a graduation ceremony. Nothing conveys the pride the students have for this school better than watching those students walk across that commencement stage and proclaim, “I got out!”