Thursday, April 23, 2015

Great Students and Great Faculty at the Isenberg School

Now is that time of the academic year during which there are numerous deadlines but we still find the time to celebrate student and faculty accomplishments. Yesterday not only did we have an All School meeting to recognize doctoral student and faculty achievements but last evening was the UMass Honors banquet and, as Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said,  this is always his favorite event of the year because we celebrate faculty accomplishments in research, teaching, and service. At this event we recognize recipients of Distinguished Teaching Awards, Contri Fellowships, and many other awards, including national and international ones that our faculty received.

It was very special for me to see my Medal from the University of Catania in Italy, which I received last June,  recognized in the glossy program! The dinner was delicious from the salad and beef tenderloin with veggies to the chocolate torte with cherries and whipped cream/ The company at our table was also wonderful! It was great to see Dean Mark Fuller there and also our Associate Dean Tom Moliterno.

And,just the evening before, we had the Isenberg Scholar Celebration.
I took the photos below at the All School Faculty meeting at which my doctoral student, Sara Saberi, was one of 2 doctoral students recognized with the 2014-2015 Outstanding Doctoral Student Researcher Award. My colleagues, Professors Ryan Wright and Senay Solak each received Research Awards, as did Professor David Piercey of Accounting,  and Professor Mila Sherman of Finance received a Teaching Award as did Pam Trafford and Professor Traci Hess from my department.

Congrats to all the outstanding faculty and our doctoral students!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Photos from the Isenberg Scholarship Celebration

This evening, we had the pleasure of attending the Isenberg Scholarship Celebration at the Marriott Center at UMass Amherst.  There was some competition this evening since Jack '56 and Suzy Welch were also on campus promoting their new book.

I was not going to miss the scholarship celebration since it was the second time that The Nagurney Scholarship was being given to a very deserving student and there were many other students recognized with scholarships and other awards.
This year's recipient of The Nagurney Scholarship, which my husband and I endowed,  is a double major in Computer Science plus Operations and Information Management!

I also got to see some faculty and several of our PhD students, including my doctoral student, Sara Saberi, who was again recognized with the Isenberg Scholar Award (which she received twice) and today we heard other great news that Sara is also a recipient of the 2014-2015 Outstanding Doctoral Researcher Award.  Now is certainly the time of the year in academia in which we recognize great students and what a pleasure this is!
It was terrific to see several award-winning Operations and Information Management majors at this event.
The food was delicious and the conversations lively.  Associate Dean Linda Shea did a great job as an announcer and moderator with each student being recognized individually.

 Two highlights were the speeches by Vinnie Daboul '87, who was the alumni speaker, and whose daughter is graduating this year from the Isenberg School, and by Marty Boyle '15, who spoke on his great 4 years at Isenberg.

Finally, it was wonderful to see Andrew Clendinneng, a fellow Canadian, who is our Executive Director of Development, and who  closed the lovely evening with his remarks.

Congratulations to all the remarkable students and thanks to the donors for their support. Mr. Daboul had several quotes from Kahlil Gibran on the importance of giving back - well said!

Isenberg School Supernetwork Center Associates Presenting at ISSR Research Beyond the Academy Conference at UMass

This is a fabulous week with tonight the Isenberg School Scholarship Celebration taking place at the Marriott Center at UMass Amherst; tomorrow the UMass Amherst Honors dinner at the Campus Center as well as the Isenberg School Senior Barbecue plus All School meeting immediately prior, and Friday is a special conference organized by the Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR) at UMass. And, yes, we are still conducting classes!

Friday's conference is on Social Science Research Beyond the Academy with PhD alum panelists and a graduate student research exposition.

My former doctoral student in Management Science at the Isenberg School, Dr. Padma Ramaujam, who is with SAS in Cary, North Carolina, and with whom I co-authored the Emvironment Networks book, will be a panelist.  Padma's dissertation received an INFORMS Transportation Science Section (now the Transportation Science & Logistics Society) best dissertation award, a highly prestigious honor.

Also, my doctoral student, Shivani Shukla, will be presenting a poster at this conference on our latest research on cybersecurity investments.

Dr. Laurel Smith-Doerr, the Director of ISSR, provided me with the nice flyer, reposted below, which mentions Padma and Shivani, both of whom are Supernetwork Center Associates.

It should be a great event and week filled with so many celebratory activities recognizing the achievements of students and faculty!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sustaining Our Electric Power Supply Chains and ISO New England

High impact experiences are essential to a college education and, on April 10, 2015, we had the pleasure of visiting ISO - New England to learn about how this organization manages the reliability of electric power for all of New England along with the pricing of it and planning for the future.

I had been to ISO - NE several years back and had wanted to bring another group of students to this awesome facility in Holyoke, Massachusetts but the last time we had scheduled a tour, Superstorm Sandy hit, and it was very difficult to reschedule.

This time there were several faculty that joined our group, which is featured  in the photo above, and which also consisted of several students from our great UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter as well as several students from my Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare class.

I have been fascinated by electric power supply chains since one of my research "bibles" is the classical book, "Studies in the Economics of Transportation," written by Beckmann, McGuire, and Winsten and in the book it is stated in the chapter on "Unsolved Problems"  at the bottom of page 108 that: "The unsolved problems concern the application of this model (they were speaking of what we now call the elastic demand user-optimized transportation network model or the traffic network equilibrium model) to particular cases. A one-commodity network would be of special interest. In particular, the problem of generation and distribution of electric energy in a network comes to mind. The task of verifying the assumptions or modifying the model might be rewarding, but will call for considerable technical knowledge of electric engineering."

With co-authors, I wrote a series of papers on electric power supply chains, in which we also transformed the electric power supply chains into transportation network equilibrium problems on an abstract network or supernetwork, resolving this unsolved problem of over half a century.

One of our papers, which used data from ISO - NE for one of the hottest months in our region  ever - July 2006, is: An Integrated Electric Power Supply Chain and Fuel Market Network Framework: Theoretical Modeling with Empirical Analysis for New England, Zugang Liu and Anna Nagurney, Naval Research Logistics 56: (2009) pp 600-624. In this paper we utilized the transformation noted earlier in this post and had actually solved the "unsolved problem" in the paper:
Dynamic Electric Power Supply Chains and Transportation Networks: An Evolutionary Variational Inequality Formulation, Anna Nagurney, Zugang Liu, Monica-Gabriela Cojocaru, and Patrizia Daniele, Transportation Research E 43: (2007) pp 624-646.

ISO New England provided us with an outstanding set of presentations on the state-of-the-art of electric power generation and distribution with new challenges of decentralization and balancing supply and demand with renewables such as solar and wind energy.  We even got to hear how the R&D group is working on robust optimization in the context of electric power planning.

We then had the shades, which had been drawn in the conference room, pulled back and we got to see the incredible control room with a huge screen depicting the New England power grid in real time! 
The below photo of the control room is courtesy of the ISO NE website.

They also informed us of the ISO to Go! app, available for both I-phone and Android, which can be positively addicting. It provides info on wholesale prices (which can even be negative) as well as the fuel mix (wind, coal, natural gas, nuclear,  etc.). Last winter, due to a capacity crisis in terms of natural gas distribution in NE, and the frigid temperatures, the fuel mix relied heavily on fossil-based fuels for electric power generation and we know from our high fuel bills that this winter was also tough financially. The wholesale price last winter was well over $50 per Megawatt hour and now it is about $14 but the price varies and is updated several times each hour.

Thanks to ISO New England for such an outstanding educational experience for the students and faculty that you welcomed last Friday!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Being an Operations Research Paradigm Changer

I do believe that female voices need to be heard and not silenced and that is one of the reasons that I started this blog over 5 years ago.

This week I had to recall Stella Dafermos, since her birthday was April 14, and, since she was born in 1940, had she lived, she would have been 75 years old this year!

Stella Dafermos was my dissertation advisor at Brown University and she was the second female PhD in Operations Research in the world. She passed away on April 4, 1990 - 25 years ago, which is shocking. I spoke with Dr. Elise Miller-Hooks this week, who is now at NSF as a Program Director, and on leave from the University of Maryland. Elise was instrumental in having a Best Paper Award named in honor of Stella at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting in DC. The first recipient of this award was Dr. Tao Lin of Virginia Tech for a single-authored paper but Elise told me that the web developer left and, hence, sadly, there has not been a big official announcement of the award

Stella was an Operations Research Paradigm Changer and I would say even a Research Paradigm Changer with her tremendous contributions to variational inequality theory, models, and algorithms, which allowed for the formulation, analysis, and rigorous solution of more general traffic network equilibrium problems that had, to that point been possible. The applications of variational inequalities now transcend operations research and transportation science and are fundamental to supply chains, game theory, regional science,  economics and finance, as well as ecology.

I am delighted that the book by Boyce and Williams, the cover of which is featured below, will be available soon.

Chapter 7 in the book, which I had the pleasure to review and comment on because Professor David Boyce forwarded me the draft to read over,  emphasizes the contributions of Stella to Transportation Network Equilibrium and I was delighted to see several of our joint papers cited.

Stella, to this date, remains the only female whose memory and contributions are honored by the premier journal Operations Research with an obituary,  that I wrote.

It's research that is a paradigm changer that is truly brilliant! Her legacy continues to impact both research and practice in complex network and decision-making. She set the highest standards, which I try to impart to my students now.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Where Do You Get Your Research Ideas From?

Towards the end of my lecture today in my Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare class, which was  on perishable product supply chains in healthcare, a student asked a very intriguing question:

Where do you get your research ideas from?

This class I very much enjoy teaching because of the topics that we cover, the diversity of the students (from the Isnberg School of Management, the College of Engineering, Public Health, and Regional Planning), the great guest speakers that we bring in. Plus, we even did a tour last Friday of ISO - New England which I will be blogging about, since electric power is essential to our modern society.

Also, I get great questions from the students and we have really good discussions that are even pushing research frontiers.

To answer the question above, in addition to the points that I made in class today,  I promised to provide some additional resources. Since this is a great question and some answers may be relevant also to my readers from near and far, below I have posted two sources of information.

The first is a study conducted by Professor Bin Jiang of DePaul University in Chicago  and entitled:
How to Do Research: Advice from Stellar Scholars in the POM Field. POM stands for "Production and Operations Management," but many of the suggestions are relevant to related and other disciplines. His study had been posted in the Journal of Operations Management page a while back and many of the points are relevant and current. I enjoyed being interviewed by Professor Jiang and honored to be included in the list of stellar scholars. The h-indices have increased since this study.

Also, almost two years ago I gave a presentation in Sweden, where I hold a Visiting Professorship at the University of Gothenburg in which I highlighted where some of my ideas for research come from and I summarized Dr. Jiang's findings.
The list below as to where research ideas come from, as per stellar scholars in Dr. Jiang's study, remains very valid and worthwhile. Research ideas come from:
  • Teaching: students’ questions, and working with doctoral
  • Contact with the real world: working with and talking to
    industrial partners, reading practitioner-oriented publications,
    news magazines, etc.;
  • Intellectual curiosity: observing the real world, delving deeply
    into issues, having passion;
  • Networking: discussing problems with colleagues, going to
    conferences, talking to others even outside your professional
  •  Reading the literature: how can you improve on what has
    been done? Do you have new tools or new ideas for old
    problems or old tools for new problems?
And today in class I even shared that some of my research ideas have come from my undergraduate students.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Great Hackathon @UMassAmherst

This morning I visited the Hackathon at UMass Amherst, which is taking place April 11-12, 2015 at the stunning Integrated Learning Center.

The Hackathon is called HackUMass and is the largest hackathoon in the Pioneer Valley.

My husband and I were invited by Tom Kopec, who is an entrepreneur and a mentor to the hackers this year.

The host of this year's hackathon is the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship at the Isenberg School of Management, which is under the managing directorship of my colleague in the Department of Management, Professor Bill Wooldridge.

We enjoyed seeing the students. some of whom were bright-eyed whereas others were fast asleep (on the floor, on couches, or on their keyboards).

We enjoyed talking to some of the teams, including a team of students from multiple universities (I had to take a photo since I am a Brown U. grad), who have known each other since they were students at Wayland High School.
I loved the drone with parts built by a 3-D printer, which also was used to construct the statue of my colleague, who is serving as a judge later today, Professor David McLaughlin of the College of Engineering.

It was great to talk to Professor Wooldridge, who told me that he had slept in his office on an air mattress since he had to be available if there was an issue overnight.  That's the dedication of Isenberg faculty!

I look forward to hearing the results of the judging later today and the awarding of prizes. Given that 300 hackers showed up, according to Wooldridge,  and that there was even an entrant from USC, this was clearly a very successful event.

I was thrilled also to get t-shirst  from Professor Wooldridge!
I heard from Tom Kopec (in the above photo with me and Wooldridge) that last year's hackathon, which was hosted by the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, had mostly hardware entries - this year,  about 75% of the projects are are software projects. I was also delighted to see female students om the mix.

Thanks to the sponsors - some of my favorite companies, where I have both former students and great colleagues from INFORMS working.