Ryan Sommerfeldt Parlays Passion for Learning into University Career

By Sue McMurray

Ryan Sommerfeldt remembers the exact moment he realized the unique value of a university experience and felt a stirring for a future career as a teacher and researcher.

It happened when he was an undergraduate studying accounting at Brigham Young University.

“I was walking on campus, and I looked around and saw thousands of people walking between a class break,” he says. “In that moment, it dawned on me how special the university experience really is: tens of thousands of people come together from all around the world to learn. Students, faculty, and staff—all spending their days learning.”

Personal and professional goals align to create the right fit

This personal observation incentivized him to earn his master’s and PhD in accounting. In the process, he developed a passion for research and began exploring the intersection of managerial accounting and audit. He knew his next goal was to work somewhere that recognized the value of research and teaching as well as a collaborative environment.

The Carson College’s Department of Accounting was the right fit, and he accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position.

“The faculty, staff, and students in the accounting department are excellent colleagues, and I am excited to work with all of them,” he says. “The college’s five strategic goals emphasizing the importance of research and teaching closely align to my personal goals and the direction the University is heading.”

“Ryan brings us expertise in data analytics. He currently teaches the course which won the American Accounting Association’s Innovation in Accounting Education Award while he was at the University of Illinois,” says Bernard Wong-On-Wing, department chair. “Ryan is also an excellent researcher and already has his work published in The Accounting Review and Contemporary Accounting Research, two of the top accounting journals. We are delighted to have him join us.”

Creating impacts through teaching and research

Sommerfeldt began teaching courses in data analytics and managerial accounting this year. Using Python and Tableau, he helps students learn how to clean and manipulate data to run various analyses and create meaningful data visualizations. In the spring, he’ll teach an introduction to managerial accounting course where students learn various skills that will help them generate and use accounting data for making business decisions.

On the research front, he plans to advance the accounting profession by examining topics related to fraud, specifically, managing control measures to detect and deter misreporting and identifying factors that influence employees who rationalize misreporting.

“During my PhD program, I recognized how much my advisors and mentors benefited my learning and growth. I really want to be able to have a similar impact on Carson PhD students,” he says. “I am excited to help our PhD students develop a passion for research as they learn to successfully develop interesting ideas and use data to increase our knowledge of accounting practices.”