Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Very Excited About Speaking at Multiple Operations Research Conferences in Europe - from North to South!

Since returning from the fabulous NetSci conference in Burlington, Vermont, which I blogged about, I have been finalizing the talks that I will be giving at conferences over the next few weeks in Europe.

Next Sunday, the EURO Dublin 2019 conference begins, at University College Dublin. This conference will convene academics, practitioners, and students from around the globe and I can hardly contain my excitement. I am so looking forward to seeing many colleagues as well as former doctoral students, including Dr. Dmytro Matsypura, who will be traveling from the University of Sydney in Australia!
In addition to fabulous tutorials, plenary talks, and sessions, I am looking forward to a journal editorial board meeting next Monday for the journal International Transactions in Operational Research, expertly edited by Professor Celso Ribeiro  and a panel that day on Women in OR.

I was planning on attending a special banquet next Monday evening, but with my tutorial on Tuesday, bright and early at 8:30AM, I had to decline the invitation. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to deliver this tutorial and am very grateful to the EURO Dublin conference organizers!
Next Tuesday evening, there will be the conference banquet, and, on Wednesday morning (there is certainly a "bright and early" theme here), I agreed to be on another panel (just this morning) on Making and Impact with OR, as part of the stream on this theme. The invitation came from Dr. Joaquim Gromicho, and this panel will be chaired by Dr. Cathal MacSwiney Brugha. And, on Tuesday, afternoon, I will be speaking on some of our research on tariffs in a session that I organized.

Then, after giving a talk at IBM in Dublin on Thursday, which I am very much looking forward to, we will journey through several countries for the Dynamics of Disasters conference in Greece, that I co-organized with Professors Ilias S. Kotsireas and Panos M. Pardalos. At the Dynamics of Disasters conference, I will present some of our latest research on humanitarian logistics and disaster relief.The research was done with one of my doctoral students, Mojtaba Salarpour, and Professor Patrizia Daniele, who was on the organizing committee of the EURO Dublin conference!

The last conference that I will be speaking at in Europe over this three week period is the World Congress on Global Optimization (WCGO), where I have the honor of delivering a plenary talk (there is also some additional good news that will be officially announced at this conference).
And, coincidentally, when I will be at WCGO in France, my co-author, Dr. Ken Calvert, will be speaking on our Internet research with Professors Tilman Wolf and Jim Griffioen in Dallas at the ICDCS2019 conference.

So, for the non-academics out there, these are just some of the types of activities that faculty keep themselves very busy with during the summer months.

Now, I am working on optimizing the packing of a carry-on suitcase for all the professional  travel in both the north and south of Europe.

Monday, June 3, 2019

A Very Special Network Science Conference in Beautiful Burlington, Vermont

The wonderful message arrived on March 30, 2019. It was from Dr. Adilson E. Motter, the Morrison Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Northwestern University.

He was writing to inform me that I was elected a Fellow of the Network Science Society, Class of 2019, and that the award ceremony would be taking place at a banquet during the International Conference on Network Science, in Burlington, Vermont, May 29-31, 2019.  Would I be able to come?

I checked my schedule, and, luckily, I was available, and, given that Burlington is about a 4 hour drive from Amherst through beautiful landscapes, I accepted the invitation.

There was a news blackout on this good news until the award was officially announced on May 29.

Last week I had the wonderful experience of taking part in the conference, which attracted over 600 conferees from around the globe to the venue at the University of Vermont (UVM) in Burlington. The Conference Chairs were: Professors Laurent Hebert-Dufresne and Peter S. Dodds of UVM, with Juniper Lovato, of the UVM Complex Systems Center, serving as the superb lead conference organizer. 

The drive up took place last Tuesday, on a cold, rainy day, but once we arrived in Burlington, the weather soon improved and it was absolutely lovely. The view from the hotel room of Lake Champlain was magnificent.

The building for the conference presentations was stunning.
I thoroughly enjoyed keynote talks by Drs. Duncan Watts, Mark E. Newman, Tina Eliassi, Michelle Girvan, and several others, with even the banquet keynote given by Dr. Emily Bernard. 
It was also very special to meet, face to face, such incredible network scientists as Dr. Vittoria Colizza, Dr. Guido Caldarelli, Dr. Raissa D'Souza, as well as Dr. Yamir Moreno, the President of the Network Science Society. Below I am standing with Professor Moreno.
This conference was especially timely for me, since for many weeks I have been working on an invited article for a special issue of the journal Networks, marking the 50th anniversary of its inception, and in the article I had integrated research from many disciplines, focusing on economic and financial networks. This paper has grown to 45 pages.

A clear highlight was the banquet last Wednesday night. We drove, but buses were arranged for those who needed a ride to the banquet location, which was the Mansfield Barn in Jericho, Vermont. Many conferees enjoyed being on a school bus, some for the very first time!
 Our conference was marked with a milk jug, a nice rustic touch.

At the banquet, Professor Claudia Wagner sat next to me. She had just been to UMass Amherst for a conference organized by my Computer Science colleague, Professor Andrew McCallum, having traveled from Cologne, Germany.  What a wonderful, small academic world it is. We had a lovely conversation since she is originally from Austria, and I had lived in Innsbruck with my family while on a Distinguished Fulbright.

The banquet food was delicious (impossible to get a bad meal in Burlington) and I was so honored and thrilled to be recognized with the Fellows Award.
More background on the Fellows Award, including the list of the inaugural Fellows, many of whom I am sure you will recognize, can be found here.

It was extra special receive the Fellow plaque from Professors Motter and Moreno.
The citation above reads: "For sustained contributions to network science, including the formulation, analysis, and computation of solutions to engineered network systems, from congested urban transportation to supply chains, under varied decision-making behaviors."

Also, so deservedly recognized at the banquet was Professor Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, the Founder of the Network Science Society.
The wonderful scientific talks, discussions, and the beauty of the location as well as the hospitality will stay with me. It's also terrific to have some NetSci2019 souvenirs!

Congratulations to the NetSci2019 conference organizers, the speakers, and to all the award recipients. NetSci2019 was truly special and I am very grateful. The love of networks is bringing many scientific disciplines and its researchers closer together for even more impactful contributions!

Friday, May 17, 2019

A Big Thank You and Congratulations to the Montreal Operations Research Student Chapter

The invitation arrived on April 22, 2019 - towards the end of the Spring semester.

The event that I was invited to speak at was to take place on May 15, 2019, as part of the Optimization Days conference in Montreal, Canada. The conference was at HEC.
Although the date was just a few days past the UMass Amherst graduation ceremonies as well as the POMS conference in Washington DC, I accepted quickly, since it was to celebrate the 3rd anniversary of the Montreal Operations Research Student Chapter. I am a big proponent and supporter of INFORMS Student Chapters and have been the Faculty Advisor to the UMass Amherst one for 15 years (that translates to 30 semesters of activities, including hosting of speakers). The Montreal Chapter has over 270 members across multiple universities in the area. It was co-founded by a group of students, including  Hyame Alameddine and (now) Dr. Carlos Zetina, both from Concordia University. Dr. Zetina was the recipient of the INFORMS Judith B. Liebman Award.

The invitation, which came from Hyame Alameddine, the Chapter's Vice President, said, in part:

Dear Prof. Nagurney,

On behalf of the Montreal Operations Research Student Chapter (MORSC), we would like to invite you to Optimization Days <https://symposia.cirrelt.ca/JOPT2019/en/home>  2019, Montreal on May 15, 2019, to deliver the keynote addressing a topic of your choice for our third-anniversary event which we will celebrate during Optimization Days. Given your pioneering work in operations research; we hope you can honor us with your presence and words as we present our chapter's achievements and list of upcoming events to our members, industry partners, well-known Montreal researchers and representatives of our umbrella institutions. Our organization would be happy to cover the costs associated with your travel and accommodation.

Established in May 2016, MORSC is a multi-university, multidisciplinary, graduate student association chartered under the Canadian Operations Research Society (CORS) and the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). Our mission is to create a collaborative community of Montreal graduate students working on Operations Research topics. Our emphasis is on knowledge sharing and networking among members from various disciplines. We organize tutorials, workshops and panel discussions for students to stay up to date on the field. We also organize student research seminars in collaboration with GERAD and CIRRELT for students to showcase their work and a speaker series for members to learn from highly respected experts in the field. We have created our website (www.mtl-students.com>) that serves as a reference for upcoming events and as an online library of materials on Operations Research (www.mtl-students.com/archive>). In 2017, MORSC received the INFORMS 2017 Student Chapter Annual Award at the cum laude level  and in 2018, it received the INFORMS 2018 Student Chapter Annual Award at the Magna cum laude level.

I offered several topics that I could speak on and they selected the following:
My presentation can be downloaded here. Speaking to this group, which has achieved an immense amount during 3 years, was a great honor, and I wanted to congratulate them and to offer my support. Coincidentally, the first conference that I ever attended as a PhD student was in Montreal and it was with my Brown University PhD dissertation advisor, Dr. Stella Dafermos. And, amazingly, I got to stay in the very same hotel, The Terrasse Royale!

The attention to detail was extraordinary, with posters disseminated about my talk, a delicious cake prepared, and even a request for questions from me about my presentation, with prizes!

 My questions to the audience (I was delighted that even undergraduates came):

 1. What city was the venue of the first conference that Anna Nagurney attended as a PhD student?

2. Which of the following are NOT part of the math academic genealogy of Stella Dafermos and Anna Nagurney:

Maxwell, Galileo, Laporte, Newton?

3. The famous Braess paradox (1968) paper was written in what language?

4. Name TWO perishable products in healthcare.

5. What was the name of the best selling cholesterol reducing drug sold by Pfizer that lost its patent rights in 2011?

Bonus question:

What brand of European chocolates are sold at the nearby Royal Terrasse Hotel in Montreal?

After my presentation, I presented the Chapter with a birthday card and certificate and they presented me with a lovely plaque (so thoughtful and so appreciated).


Also, at the event, many students were recognized for their great writing and papers!
Above I am standing with the Chapter Officers as well as the Chapter's Faculty Advisor, Professor Daria Terekhov. Very cool that, among the officers, is a former classmate of my PhD student, Deniz Besik - Ba┼čak Tozlu.

The cake was as delicious as it was beautiful!
Many thanks also to the excellent photographers! The group photo is a very special memento. I remember fondly many selfies taken with the expert - Dr. Carlos Zetina at INFORMS conferences!
Also, it was a delightful surprise to see  Dr. Alelsandr Kazachkov there (the recipient of the 2018 ICS Best Student Paper Prize, whose committee I chaired), Professor Michel Gendreau, and a University of Maryland  Smith School colleague - Professor Raghavan. I also saw Professor Gilbert Laporte's photo on a nice screen - he was recently elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Sorry to have missed Professor Hani Mahmassani, who was a plenary speaker.

And, of course, I had to purchase Leonidas (Belgian) chocolates in the shop at my hotel to being back to Amherst!
Also, I had some lovely long walks in the area.

Congratulations to the MORSC Chapter Officers and members on all of your achievements and thank you for the outstanding hospitality - you set new standards! Wishing you all much continuing professional and personal success.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Celebrating My 21st PhD Student - Dr. Pritha Dutta - Research, Teaching, Service, and Friendships

The past 24 hours have been extraordinary.

Yesterday, the robing of PhD graduates at the Isenberg School of Management took place. This is an initiative, which has now become a tradition, thanks to our PhD Program Director, Dr. George Milne.
15 Isenberg School PhD students in multiple disciplines were recognized, including 3 from Management Science:  my 21st PhD student, Dr. Pritha Dutta, Dr. Amir Yazdi, and Dr. Yueran Zhuo. Pritha will soon be added to my Math Genealogy list.  My Math genealogy (and hers) goes back to scientific giants, including Maxwell, Newton, and Galileo.

The robing tradition includes a speech by the  PhD Dissertation Advisor, and I am sharing my prepared speech about Pritha below.

From the moment I saw Pritha's application to the Isenberg School program, I knew that she would be exceptional and she is.

She contributed immensely to research, teaching, and service.


Pritha received her Master's in OR from the University of Delhi and her Bachelor's from the University of Calcutta.


Her original PhD advisor, Dr. Adams Steven, left after working with her for 3 years. What she has accomplished speaks to her resilience and creativity.

Her thesis title: Blood Supply Chain Networks in Healthcare: Game Theory Models and Numerical Case Studies.

Pritha is graduating with 3 published journal articles in Transportation Research E, Omega, and Annals of OR!

She has presented her research at numerous conferences, including INFORMS and POMS (just a few days ago in DC and at an 8AM session, no less). In 2017, she received the best PhD student presentation award at the Northeast DSI Conference in Massachusetts.

Her research is fundamental and she has a passion of doing work that helps society.

A fascinating fact: she practices what she preaches ad she is a universal blood donor with blood type O-. Needless to say, she is regularly called by the American Red Cross to donate blood.


Pritha has been able to accomplish so much even while teaching: OIM 240: Business Data Analysis (face to face and online) and OIM 301 Intro to Operations Management, which she taught online.

Her students adore her and look to her as an educator and mentor (some have switched their major to OIM, because of her teaching).

Some comments from students:

One student wrote: “Pritha is the best professor I have had at UMass Amherst. I attended her office hours every week and she has always been collaborative and engaging. She is never willing to give up and will take time out of her day to help students. I have never felt intimidated by her, she makes the classroom environment very welcoming.”

Another student stated: “Pritha took pride in teaching us and she always wanted us to do well. She was sure to thoroughly explain topics to us that we did not understand.”

Other examples of comments from students on Pritha's excellent teaching of challenging material: “The instructor is fantastic. She is super dedicated and caring and will always make time to help you. One of the most dedicated teachers.”

And another quote from a student: “I like how we learned about Excel and a lot of its functions, since it is a helpful tool to utilize now and down the line. I like how passionate Pritha was and how willing she was to help students. She truly cared about us, our understanding, and our grades.”


Pritha was President of the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter and one of our most active members - helping to organize 2 STEM Slams at UMass, interviewing speakers for our chapter Youtube channel, and not missing a single event during her time here. She has been instrumental in the Chapter receiving an annual award from INFORMS every year during her 5 years at the Isenberg School.

Her positivity, creativity (she is also an artist), and energy will support her as she launches her academic career. She will be an Assistant Professor (tenure track) at the Lubin School of Business at Pace University in NYC, beginning this Fall. I am sure that she will have many visitors, because her PhD defense was the best attended in my career at UMass.

After the robing ceremony yesterday, there was a lavish reception for all those receiving graduate degrees from the Isenberg School in our stunning new Business Innovation Hub. It was fabulous to celebrate with Pritha's family members, who had traveled from India, with faculty, and numerous friends from the Isenberg School and the College of Engineering, all of whom have been very active members as well as officers of the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter. 
And, this morning, we had the majestic UMass Amherst graduate graduation ceremonies!
In the photo immediately above, Dr. Pritha Dutta is standing next to Dr. Destenie Nock.  Dr. Dutta will be an Assistant Professor at the Lubin School of Business at Pace University in NYC. Dr. Destenie Nock (of the UMass College of Engineering) will be an Assistant Professor in Engineering Policy at Carnegie Mellon University.  Dr. Nock's PhD advisor was Associate Dean of Engineering Professor Erin Baker.

Next year, we expect additional Operations Research / Management Science PhD students to be receiving their doctorates: my Isenberg student, Deniz Besik, and Professor Erin Baker's student Rodrigo Mercado as well as Professor Ana Muriel's student, Ekin Koker. I am sure that, with the lifelong friendships that have been established, our recent PhD alums will return to campus to celebrate with them.

Congratulations to all the 2019 graduates, and congrats also to their family members, faculty, and friends!

I end this blogpost with a photo of a gift I will treasure from Pritha, which her parents brought all the way from India for me.