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Graduate Speaker Series

July 23, 2020 @ 6:00 pm 7:00 pm UTC

Graduate Speaker Series is a bi-weekly series for UofT students featuring UofT graduate students from all academic backgrounds presenting their research and ideas to a general audience of graduate students. We invite all UofT graduate students to attend, engage with speakers, learn about academic disciplines other than their own and build new connections.

Our speakers this week are Mohamed Shaaban from the Department of Physics, Dunlap Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, and Ying Bao from the Rotman School of Management.

Register here!

Ying Bao

PhD Candidate, Rotman School of Management

“Forgetful Consumers and Consumption Tracking Costs”

This paper studies the marketing implications of advances in consumption tracking technologies, such as mobile banking applications that help consumers monitor their spending and avoid penalty fees for overdrawn accounts. We develop a two-period consumption model in which consumers must pay a penalty fee to a monopoly service provider if they consume in both periods. In the second period, consumers may not remember whether they consumed in the first period, though a (costly) consumption tracking technology may be used to remind consumers of their first-period consumption. Our analysis shows how advances in consumption tracking can help consumers (at the expense of the firm) either directly, by letting its users know when consumption would incur a penalty, or indirectly, by forcing the firm to reduce (or even eliminate) its penalty fee as a means to disincentivize consumers from using the technology. That said, our analysis also reveals conditions under which consumption tracking can compel a firm to create a penalty fee that would not otherwise exist. Moreover, advances in consumption tracking can actually lead to higher profits (and lower consumer surplus) if consumers are “mostly sophisticated” about their forgetfulness. In these cases, the firm strategically sets its penalty fee at a level that fosters a false sense of security, whereby consumers expect to use consumption tracking, but ultimately decide not to bother, making them especially susceptible to penalty fees.

Mohamed Shaaban

Department of Physics, Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics

“Weighing the Universe with a Balloon-borne Telescope”

Not only is the Universe expanding, but it’s expansion is accelerating! This revelation implies either our understanding of gravity is flawed or that a mysterious negative pressure known as Dark Energy is driving the expansion. It turns out that the contents of the universe can be divided into three groups: dark energy, dark matter and the matter that is everything we can see and interact with, which only accounts for 5% of the universe! One way to understand the relationship between these three groups is to find out how heavy they are! Unfortunately, there are no universe-sized scales so instead we have to build an experiment to weigh the universe for us!