Foster PhD Alumni Spotlight: Eugene Pavlov, PhD ’20

Collectively, the marketing department at Foster has shaped the future of the field of marketing by training the next generation of top scholars. Recent job placements include Kellogg School of Management, Cornell Tech, and University of Miami, and Indiana University. The quality of job placements reflect the training that prepares UW Foster graduates to push boundaries of knowledge and thrive as valued members of learning communities.

Students in the Foster PhD program get early mentorship from leading scholars in the field. In addition to personalized guidance from a faculty mentor, Foster students have access to leaders in related disciplines such as UW’s prestigious computer science and psychology programs. Rigorous coursework and a supportive learning environment serve as a foundation from which students can launch productive careers.

Today’s spotlight is on Eugene Pavlov, PhD ’20, an assistant professor at the University of Miami whose research centers around time series and panel econometrics.

Tell us about your research. 

My research studies how brands can leverage image and text components of a social media message in order to increase user engagement with this message. I use computer vision and natural language processing to analyze historical data of over 1.3 million tweets from 600+ brands to understand what attributes of image and text drive engagement (retweeting).

How did you get interested in this research topic?

The interest originated while I was taking machine learning class at UW Computer Science department. We were given a dataset of images of handwritten digits (0 to 9) and the goal was to predict the digit for each picture given pixel-level information of this image.

Approach to analyze images as data at the pixel level blew my mind. I realized this approach could be brought to marketing for applications like predicting visual emotion in digital images posted by brands in social media.

I developed a tool that automatically scores a digital image on primary dimensions of emotion ( Then, I used it to analyze visual content posted by brands since 2011 on twitter to derive optimal visual strategies by sector (e.g., quick-service restaurants vs. charity vs. health and beauty, etc.).

How did the PhD program at UW Foster prepare you for success? 

I was very fortunate to be able to join UW Foster Marketing department! I owe success to support and encouragement by my advisor (Natalie Mizik), my dissertation committee, and all professors who were teaching Marketing PhD seminars. The department cares about students, supports them generously, and is very helpful in resolving issues that might come up along the long way of PhD prep.

I am also very lucky that UW has excellent Computer Science and Economics departments. I benefited enormously from classes I took there.

Finally, due to proximity to Amazon, I was able to do two summer internships there. Industry experience honed my analytical skills, improved my understanding of business objectives and processes, and prepared me for being (I hope!) an effective instructor and productive researcher in academia.

What was your favorite moment in the PhD program?

To a large extent, PhD student dedicates four to five years to prepare for the academic job market. Getting academic job offer is a blast of thrill! It changes life in many ways (where you will live, what you’ll do, how you’ll feel from now on). I’m so grateful to Foster for giving PhD students like me an opportunity to make it happen!