Friday, July 22, 2016

The STEM Gems Book - Inspiring Female Role Models in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

This has been a terrific summer. Not only did I have the extraordinary experience of being a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College at Oxford University, which I blogged a lot about, but also two books were published this June: my Competing on Supply Chain Quality book, which I wrote with Dong "Michelle" Li, and  STEM Gems: How 44 Women Shine in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and How You Can Too!

In my most recent blogpost, I blogged about why we wrote the Competing on Supply Chain Quality book.

This blogpost is about STEM Gems, which was authored by Stephanie Espy, who has degrees from MIT and UC Berkeley in chemical engineering and also an MBA from Emory University and is the founder of MathSP. 
I was delighted that when I returned from Oxford the book had arrived in Amherst and my daughter had already dived into it. I have now had a chance to read it and could not put it down. The book, which Espy dedicated to her daughter, Zoe, is aimed at middle school and high school girls but, frankly, I enjoyed it tremendously. Espy wishes that she had had such a book when she was growing up and I am sure that it will be a "go to" book for many educators, parents, relatives, and friends to share with girls and young women.

I was honored to be one of the 12 females in Mathematics featured in the book, and enjoyed very much the interview process and even the photoshoot at the Isenberg School of Management 2 years ago.  My area of expertise and passion is networks and operations research.
The book is very elegant and beautifully written and edited. It was great to see several females that I have corresponded with and even heard speak at different conferences! There are females in industry, government, and academia featured, and also in the health sciences. The entrepreneurial spirit shines through!

I always find it fascinating to hear stories from successful women as to why they chose a particular career path and what kind of activities they engaged in as children and who may have mentored and inspired them on their journeys. There are clearly themes that emerge from this book, and I know that I will return to it time and time again, because Stephanie Espy has put together a stunning volume. Many of the 44 females in the book speak of curiosity as a child about the world, about playing outside, about enjoying working on puzzles and noting patterns, and also having a stubbornness when it comes to solving problems and not giving up! 

I bought a copy for my niece and will be purchasing more to share with administrators, my female doctoral students, and also benefactors.

Below is a photo of my daughter, a summa cum laude Geology graduate, and my niece, an ocean engineering graduate, both STEM Gems, with the book. And the day after this photo was taken, they ran a half marathon, which speaks to their stamina and dedication.

They look great after covering 13 miles in rather warm weather at the Twin Reservoirs Half Marathon in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

Yesterday, I brought over a copy of my new supply chain book and the STEM Gems book for our Isenberg School of Management Dean Mark Fuller for some enjoyable summer reading.
And last week, I celebrated with the co-author of the supply chain book, Dong "Michelle" Li,  and my doctoral student, Deniz Besik, both books.

To all girls and young women out there, believe in yourselves! Thanks to Stephanie Espy for her hard work in producing this very valuable book and congratulations!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Why We Wrote the Competing on Supply Chain Quality Book

I was thrilled when my new book, "Competing on Supply Chain Quality: A Network Economics Perspective," was published last month by Springer. The book was co-authored with my former doctoral student at the Isenberg School of Management, Dong Li, who is now an Assistant Professor at the School of Business at Arkansas State University. The book is the second book in the new Springer Series on Supply Chain Management that is edited by Distinguished University Professor Christ Tang of UCLA's Anderson School of Management.

We had conducted research on supply chain networks with a focus on quality for over half a decade.

The book was published last month, June 2016, and a box of copies arrived at the Isenberg School but I was at Oxford University as a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College for the Trinity term. Luckily, Christine Crigler of Springer was gracious to express mail two copies to me at Oxford.  Although this is my 13th book, the excitement of seeing the package and opening it up and then looking through your new book is always thrilling.
My co-author at that time was still visiting China but upon my return to Massachusetts, we were delighted to see each other and to look at the book together.

Writing the book was a passion and it was done in the US, while I was also in Sweden, as a Visiting Professor at the University of Gothenburg, and everything was finalized recently.

The study of supply chains, a critical area of both operations research and operations management has, interestingly, evolved completely separately from the literature on quality management, another much studied topic in operations management that has a long history. Moreover, there had been numerous instances of product failures that had resulted in not only such negative effects on humans as illnesses but even death. Consumers, when they purchase infant formula want to make sure that it is safe; the same holds for the cars that we drive, the food that we eat, and the high technology products that we use, to start.  Frankly, in many cases when we would read news articles, noting medicines that not only did not do the job that they were designed for but actually injured people, or airbags that would explode and injure people, or ignition switches that resulted in accidents and the death of young people, we were, frankly, furious!

As scholars and educators what we can do is do research so we began to develop supply chain network models that were realistic and that were computable. This was critical since much of the literature would consider only very small supply chains that one would never see in practice (but might be easy to solve and get some insights for). Clearly, producers in many cases would have more information about the products that they had manufactured than consumers would so we explored information asymmetry and also the impacts of minimum quality standards. An issue in our work that was fundamental was to give a precise definition of what we meant by quality. Quality sometimes has a rather qualitative flavor and we cared about quantitative measures.  W also wanted to quantify the impact on a firm's reputation if there were quality failures of is products. In contrast to much of the other literature, we also considered decentralized decision-making as opposed to centralized decision-making. Hence, we utilized network theory, optimization theory, and also, importantly, game theory to explore competition.

Our passion for product quality and the reality of globalization and outsourcing also drove us to develop supply chain network models with explicit supplier selection and make or buy decision-making and associated quality.  We were also able to develop a framework, which I am very proud of, that identifies the importance of suppliers to a firm's supply chain network and that of the supplier to the supply chain network economy. Clearly, one can then rank suppliers accordingly and, this provides decision-makers with important tools of assessment. Pay attention to those suppliers that affect you bottom line, should their production be disrupted, be it because of natural disasters  or other events.

Of course, since transportation has always been my love, along with logistics, we also explored the meaning of quality in freight. You want to make sure that Christmas trees arrive in time for the holiday, that the goods that you ordered are not damaged, and that the food does not spoil in transit!

Our research was documented in a series (many) papers since this was essential to get peer review done. After close to a dozen papers on the paper it became essential to synthesize all of our material and the book was the result.

The passion for product quality and supply chain networks continues as will the research.

Another thrill was seeing our book on display at the EURO 2016 conference in Poznan, Poland, which took place July 3-6, 2016, and which I wrote enthusiastically about in a previous blogpost. 
And, yesterday, we celebrated the publication of our book in a meaningful way and I expect there will be more celebrations.

Thanks to UMass Amherst for noting our new book by the News Office. This was a great collaboration, which continues.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Fabulous Operations Research Conference - EURO 2016 in Poznan, Poland

I would like to thank the organizers of the 28th European Operational Research (Operations Research) Conference in Poznan, Poland, taking place July 3-6, 2016, for the great organization, high quality scientific papers, venue, hospitality, and warmth extended to all the conferees.

It has been a wonderful experience since we arrived late on Saturday evening, having flown WizzAir from Luton London Airport to Poznan.

The venue is the Poznan University of Technology, which had big banners welcoming us on Sunday afternoon.

 The registration was also very smooth and friendly.

The opening ceremony was grand with even the university choir entertaining us and with both the EURO Gold Medal awarded to Professor Nesterov and Professor Queyranne with Professor Sisko receiving the Service Award.

Poznan is filled with operations researchers and just upon arriving we saw INFORMS Fellow Bob Fourer and Graham Rand, who was one of my hosts just last week at Lancaster University. The Old Town of Poznan is especially beautiful.

And when we are not being served delicious luncheons at the conference venue we have managed to sample a variet of peirogies as well as schnitzels in Old Town.
The coffee breaks are also spectacular with the conference organizers treating us to delicious pastries.
Another reason that this conference is extra special to me is that I can figure out alot of the Polish since my first language is Ukrainian, plus Springer has my new book, written with my former Isenberg PhD student, Dong "Michelle" Li, "Competing on Supply Chain Quality: A Network Economics Perspective," on display at its booth.
 I was honored that yesterday I had the chance to present our European Journal of Operational Research paper on food supply chains, that was published in 2013 and that was written with Professor Min Yu, also a former doctoral student of mine. I had been invited (one of two presenters) to speak on this work by the Editors of the journal, along with outgrowths of this research. Professor Roman Slowinski had earlier in the same session given a wonderful presentation on the success of this journal, which is one of my favorites, with over 3,000 paper submissions now per year! Professor Slowinski noted that our paper was selected because of the high citations that it has received and its impact.

Today was another very busy day, since I had two talks in a session organized by Professor Patrizia Daniele, a great collaborator of mine from the University of Catania in Italy. As for scheduling, my first talk this morning took place at the same time as a co-authored talk with my husband on the Braess paradox. My first presentation today was on cybersecurity with co-authors Professor Daniele and my doctoral student Shivani Shukla and my second presentation was on a game theory model for freight services in humanitarian/disaster relief. All these presentations are available for download on the Supernetwork Cemter website at the Isenberg School of Management.

Plus, I got to see two of my very successful former doctoral students, Professor Tina Wakolbinger and Professor Dmytro Matsypura and I took the photo of them with Professor Daniele below. Tina organized a very interesting session on humanitarian logistics, which we attended this afternoon after a yummy lunch that we ate outside.

It was also fabulous to see Professor Ariela Sofer who seems to have the same fashion sense as I do.
Another wonderful meeting was with Dr. Mauricio Resende of Amazon, who gave a keynote talk, and then hosted a tour of Amazon's fulfillment center in Poland.

And later today we will be hearing the Nobel Laureate n Economic Sciences Robert Aumann speak. This has been a conference that raises new standards for organization, attention to detail, and also scientific contributions. Many, man thanks to the organizers for such a wonderful conference!

It is great to be part of the Operations Research community and I even exchanged a few words with Melissa Moore, the Executive Director of INFORMS, who is also here.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Great Time Speaking on Disaster Relief in the Management Science Department at Lancaster University in England

Tuesday evening, we returned from Lancaster, England, an hour late because there was a broken down train on our line in Lancaster and we had to wait for it to be repaired.

We had traveled to Lancaster the day before from Oxford by train, with a change in Birmingham.

I had been invited by Professor Graham Rand, very well-known in Operations Research internationally, several months ago to speak in the Management Science Department at Lancaster University. He had become aware that I would be a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College at Oxford University during the Trinity term so he had cordially extended the invitation, which I could not refuse.

Lancaster University's Management Science Department is the largest MS department in the United Kingdom with about 45 faculty focusing on Operations Research, Operations Management, and Information Systems. It is housed in the university's School of Management, which is located in proximity to the Lancaster House Hotel, where I overnighted, and which was very comfortable and very convenient.

Lancaster University is only about 50 years old and it has an excellent reputation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) as well as in Management.   The School of Management will be getting a new building soon but the existing one I found to be spacious with many windows. The university is close to the beautiful lake region and to the sea and is surrounded by green spaces so the air quality is great there.  Given that Oxford University dates to 1231, I found it very interesting to see a relatively new university in England.

I had presented Graham with a list of topics that I could speak on and, after canvassing his colleagues, the topic of disaster relief was selected, so my presentation was on Disaster Relief Supply Chains: Network Models, Algorithm, and Case Studies.
A nice announcement was prepared for my presentation, which I am very grateful for, and even though the date for my talk was June 28, 2016 and in the US it would be tough to find faculty and students to fill up an audience, I had a great attendance.  My full presentation can be downloaded here.

After arriving (my husband had accompanied me since he loves train travel), we took a walk around the campus and then it was time to meet Professor Konstantinos Zografos for dinner. Professor Zografos received his PhD from our UMass Amherst neighbor, the University of Connecticut, and I have known him since my days at MIT as a Visiting Scholar and Professor. He was recently inducted into UConn's Distinguished Academy of Engineers with a nice photo of him and other inductees with their medals on the UConn website.  Professor Zografos is an academic powerhouse with major contributions to different areas of transportation and the recipient of millions of dollars/pounds in research grants. He has been at Lancaster for about 3 years and has previously been at the University of Miami and also in Greece. He has just been appointed the new Associate Dean of Research at Lancaster's School of Management, a fantastic choice, I must say.

We had a great time at dinner, which lasted almost 4 hours and felt like 5 minutes. When we left, we heard that England got eliminated from the Euro 2016 soccer competition, as it got beaten by the lowest ranked team and the underdog, Iceland. It has been a very tough week for Britain with Brexit and now the soccer game loss.
Professor Graham Rand organized a terrific schedule for me. Prior to my seminar at noon, I met with a postdoc and a Visiting Scholar and the postdoc had been interviewed at Oxford University  on June 22 (the day of our Encaenia which I had blogged about) and had received an offer for another postdoc at the Environmental Institute there. I had an excellent conversation with him on network vulnerability, one of his research themes.

The questions after my talk were interesting and I have had requests for the presentation and so it has been posted. The talk had three parts to it: work on network performance assessment and vulnerability, a mean variance integrated disaster relief optimization model, and our latest work, which is a Generalized Nash Equilibrium model for disaster relief. There are very few game theory models in humanitarian operations so we are very excited about this work.

After my talk, it was time for lunch, and joining me were Professor Rand and the Head of the Department, Professor Matthias Ehrgott, who I last saw at a multicriteria decision-making conference that he was involved in organizing in Auckland, New Zealand, and I was an invited speaker. he has been at Lancaster for 3 years. We have many mutual interests in reseaarch so it was wonderful to see him and chat.

After the lunch I got to meet with the university's cybersecurity experts since we have been also doing a lot of research in this area and we spoke for over an hour on topics as diverse as the Desmond storm that resulted in a power outage last Fall that closed the university for almost a week to ransomware!

While I was busy, my husband had a chance to tour the downtown and to see the castle. Supposedly where the jurors meet is the room where a long time ago people would be hanged.

Then it was time to leave and we enjoyed, because of the delay, speaking to others at the Lancaster train station who were affected by the broken down train. Nevertheless, our train eventually arrived and since we had extra time in Birmingham before our connection to Oxford, I marvelled at the Birmingham train station, which resembles an airport!
I enjoyed reading the latest edition of the elegant, informative, and glossy IMPACT magazine that Professor Graham Rand gave me.  The impact that operations research / management science has had and continues to have in areas of transportation, healthcare, manufacturing, and security is tremendous. So glad to be part of such a wonderful professional community where you find friends and colleagues wherever you may go.
I will see Professor Graham Rand next week at the EURO 2016 conference in Poland, where he told me that he will be having breakfast with Professor Mike Trick of Carnegie Mellon University, the new IFORS (International Federation of Operational Research Societies) President and is very much looking forward to it and to the conference, of course.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Visiting Fellows 50th Anniversary Celebration at All Souls College at Oxford University

Yesterday was a truly a historic day in Britain. We woke up in Oxford, England to brilliant sunshine and then were shocked with the news that Britain  had voted to leave the European Union, so Brexit had become a reality.  Living now in a college town - that of Oxford - where intellectual freedom and the movement of ideas and people are essential to research and innovation - the news was shocking and stunning.The repercussions are reverberating around the world.

Yesterday was also the day that we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Visiting Fellowships Program at All Souls College at Oxford University. I am now a Visiting Fellow (VF) at All Souls College for the Trinity term. I had received an invitation to attend this full day of celebrations while I was in Amherst months ago and was thrilled to take part yesterday and my husband did as well.

The program is below.
We began with registration and a welcome by the Warden, Sir John Vickers, who is an economist.

Mr. Edward Mortimer, who is a Fellow at All Souls College, provided us with background and the history of the Visiting Fellowship Program, which began in 1966 with the college deciding on November 6, 1965 to admit Visiting Fellows. All Souls College is a unique college at Oxford University in that it does not admit undergraduates.
Edward Mortimer, whom I have mentioned in my blog before, worked at the United Nations and wrote speeches for the former Secretary general, Kofi Annan.

I was delighted to hear Sir John Vickers say that we were celebrating "one of the best things that has happened to All Souls College." He said that the VF Program provides internationalization of the college and to-date there have been 800 Visiting Fellows from 40 different countries. The first female Visiting Fellow Dr. Janet Morgan, now known as Lady Balfour of Burleigh, was a VF in 1982, while she was also studying the BBC, upon the invitation of the PM,  spoke yesterday morning and I was delighted to see her.

 I also very much enjoyed hearing Sir Roger Braithwaite, who is an expert on negotiating with Russians, and is featured in the photo below. He was UK's ambassador to Russia and also its representative at the embassy in the US where he focused on commercial policy and was very successful.
Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the first Visiting Fellows were invited.

About 130 Visiting Fellows attended the celebration yesterday.
After the morning session we were treated to a delicious lunch in our elegant Codrington Library.

The menu is below.
Then it was time for tea and coffee before additional panels ands sessions followed by tea and a concert!
I enjoyed meeting former VFs from Berkeley and Illinois and was thrilled to see Professor Carol Heim of the Economics department at UMass Amherst, who had been a VF at Oxford a few years ago.
 Many thanks to Sir John Vickers and to the Dean of Visiting Fellows, Professor Simon Hornblower, for such a pleasant and very memorable celebration of the the great Visiting Fellowship Program at All Souls College Many thanks also to the staff for the exquisite hospitality, food, and organization.

It has been a marvelous experience being a Visiting Fellow at Oxford and the support, intellectual freedom, fellowship with our Fellows, have all been extraordinary. All Souls College is a unique institution and very special.