PhD Students

Joseph Burke CPA, CFE, started the PhD program in 2013. He earned his bachelor’s and MBA degrees at Northern Arizona University in 2010. After college, he started his career with Deloitte and Touche in Denver, where he was a senior auditor and specialized in the Midstream Oil and Gas industry, with a focus on public offerings, carve-out audits, and IPO preparation. He enjoys fly fishing, camping, hiking, and generally anything outdoors.
Seo-Sun Cheong, Korean CPA, began the PhD program in 2013. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Korea University, South Korea. In 2004 he began working for Deloitte as an auditor and transferred to an M&A team in the same firm. After being promoted to a manager, he left Deloitte to pursue further studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, earning his master’s degrees in accounting and mathematics. His initial research interests include both empirical and theoretical research in financial accounting topics. In his free time, Seo-Sun enjoys spending time with family.
Raluca Chiorean began the PhD program in 2010. She earned her Bachelor of Science from UIC in 2008 and completed the Master of Science in Accounting program at UIC in 2010. Prior to entering the PhD program, she was a graduate assistant at the Department of Accounting at UIC. Raluca has worked in internships at Apex Insurance Managers and UBS. She enjoys reading, spending time with her family and traveling.
Deni Cikurel began the PhD program in 2013. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Middle East Technical University (METU) in 2009. After his graduation from METU, he worked in KPMG Istanbul for two years as a financial auditor specializing in manufacturing companies. In 2012, he graduated from the Texas A&M University MBA program. While at Texas A&M, he also worked as a TA in financial accounting for the MBA program. Deni is primarily interested in conducting empirical research in financial accounting. During his free time, Deni enjoys reading, cooking and spending time with his friends and family.
Richard Crowley began the PhD program in 2012. He holds bachelor's degrees in accountancy, finance, and mathematics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Richard interned with JPMorgan Chase in the Treasury Services group. His primary research interest lies in financial reporting, using both empirical and analytical methods. In his free time, Richard enjoys playing tennis, listening to music, and playing with technology. https://sites.google.com/a/illinois.edu/crowley/
Paul Demere began the PhD program in 2012. He graduated with his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting and taxation, respectively, from Virginia Tech in 2008. Afterwards, he spent three-and-a-half years working at the Greensboro and Washington Metro offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers in their Private Company Services and Mergers & Acquisitions tax practices. He is primarily interested in pursuing research related to U.S. taxation and tax accounting. When not being a tax nerd, he enjoys pleasure reading (particularly fiction novels), working out, and cheering the Hokies and Fighting Illini onto domination in football and other sports.
Cassandra Estep, CPA, CISA, began the PhD program in 2011. She received her Bachelor of Science in Commerce from the University of Virginia in 2005. Prior to joining the program, Cassandra worked at Ernst & Young as an IT auditor for over 5 years, specializing in financial audit IT integration. In her free time, Cassandra enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her husband and two dogs.
Brian Gale began the PhD program in 2014. He earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from Miami University and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago Law School. After graduating from law school, Brian practiced tax law at Sidley Austin LLP in Chicago, working on a variety of transactional and controversy-related matters. His primary research interests are related to U.S. and international taxation and tax accounting. In his free time, Brian enjoys anything that gets him outside, including hiking, backpacking, and golfing.
Brent Garza began the PhD program in 2011. He earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Houston in 2008 and a Master of Science in Accounting from Indiana University in 2009. Prior to enrollment in the PhD program, Brent was an audit associate at KPMG LLP in Indianapolis, IN helping complete all requirements to be licensed as a CPA. Outside of school, Brent enjoys spending time with his wife and attending the theater.
Shawn Gordon began the PhD program in 2012. Shawn received his Bachelor of Science in Accounting with Honors from the Smeal College of Business and the Schreyer Honors College at Pennsylvania State University in 2007. Shawn started his career as an auditor at EY and then worked as an accountant in the managed care industry. Shawn’s research interests are in applications of decision theory to accounting environments and in not-for-profit financial accounting and reporting. Outside of academics, Shawn enjoys travel, play time with his cat, and serving on campus committees. Shawn hails from New Jersey and is a CPA licensed in the states of New York and New Jersey.
Steph Grant, CPA, began the PhD program in 2011. She earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from the University of Northern Iowa in 2008. After graduation, Steph worked as an auditor for Deloitte & Touche in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She then went to work as the Business and Accounting Department Chair at a college in Cedar Rapids. Steph’s primary research interest is experimental financial accounting. Outside of the PhD program Steph enjoys running, sports, traveling, and spending time with her husband.
Shuoyuan He began the PhD program in 2008. She received her bachelor’s degree in financial management from Fudan University, China in 2004 and earned her master’s degrees in finance and accountancy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Before coming to Illinois, she worked as an auditor at Ernst & Young for almost two years. She enjoys reading, traveling and playing sports with friends.
Kamber Hetrick began the PhD program in 2013. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Harvard University in 2008 and a Master of Science in Accounting and Information Analysis from Lehigh University in 2010. Kamber then joined PricewaterhouseCoopers as an auditor in the New York Metro market and currently holds a CPA license in New Jersey. Her principal research interests include audit quality and auditor behavior. Outside of the PhD program, Kamber enjoys baking cookies and spending time with her husband and adorable daughter.
Sean Hillison is a graduate of the University of Florida's Fisher School of Accounting where he earned both his Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Master of Accounting degrees. After graduating in 2002, Sean practiced public accounting for nine years in Ernst & Young's South Florida audit practice. At Ernst & Young, Sean most recently served as an audit senior manager to various SEC registrants and private equity controlled companies. In 2011, Sean left Ernst & Young to begin the PhD program at the University of Illinois with a primary focus on audit research. Sean enjoys spending his free time with his wife and cheering on the Illini and Gator football teams.
Ryan Hudgins began the PhD program in 2014. He holds both bachelor's and master's degrees in accounting from Ohio State University. He also holds a Master of Science degree in social and applied economics from Wright State University. He worked as a tax accountant for three-and-a-half years, and he is an inactive CPA in the state of Ohio. His primary research interest is managerial accounting. He enjoys spending time with his wife and their pets.
JangHansol Jang began the PhD program in 2015. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Accountancy and Master of Accounting Science degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He gained professional experience in the hospitality industry at the Ritz-Carlton as well as in the consulting industry with Ernst and Young Advisory. His research interests lie in national and international corporate taxation. In his free time, he enjoys outdoor activities and working out.
Elena Klevsky, CPA, earned both her Bachelor of Accounting and Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in finance from Florida International University (FIU) in 2006. She also completed her Master of Accounting degree at FIU in 2007. Elena entered the PhD program in 2011 after four years at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). At PwC's Boston office, she served as a senior associate, auditing clients in the asset management industry. In her spare time, Elena enjoys reading novels, creative writing, improvisational comedy, travel photography, and whatever other new hobby catches her eye.
R. William Snyder, CPA, received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from the Brigham Young University Marriott School of Business in 2006. Upon graduation, Bill practiced tax at Deloitte in both New York City and Philadelphia. Bill most recently served as a manager in the R&D and Government Incentives group before leaving Deloitte to begin the PhD program at the University of Illinois in 2012. In his free time, Bill enjoys hiking, camping, and spending time with his wife and four children.

Dongyi Wang started the PhD in 2013. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting with James Scholar Honors and a Master of Accounting Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dongyi has professional experiences at private accounting firms, commercial banks and consulting practices. Dongyi's research interests lie in how accounting policies impact investors' perception of the disclosed financial information and the efficiency of capital allocation in the stock market. Outside the PhD program, Dongyi has a variety of interests, including traveling, reading, and designing and making audio amplifiers and other high fidelity audio reproduction devices.
Shuyang Wang began the PhD program in 2013. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Peking University. Before enrolling in the doctoral program, she worked as an intern in the Audit and Assurance department of PricewaterhouseCoopers as well as the National Clearing Center of People’s Bank of China. In her spare time, she enjoys playing badminton, traveling and cooking.
Williams-JeffJeffrey Williams began the PhD program in 2015. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from the Marriott School at Brigham Young University. He worked as a tax intern at Hawkins Cloward & Simister LC, a small CPA firm in Orem, Utah. Jeff’s research interests lie in experimental managerial accounting. He enjoys reading, playing sports, and spending time with his wife and two beautiful daughters.
Ha Young Yoon began the PhD program in 2014. She earned her Bachelor of International Studies from Korea University. She passed the US CPA exam in 2010. Prior to coming to Illinois, Ha Young earned her Master of Science in Business Administration, Accounting from Korea University in 2014. Her research interests span a wide range of topics in financial and managerial accounting. In her free time she enjoys reading, watching movies and playing sports.