Monday, August 21, 2017

Latest on Blood Supply Chains

This has been an amazing day, with not only the solar eclipse taking place,

and we had a wonderful turnout to view the solar eclipse, organized by Finance Professor Ben Branch of the Isenberg School,

but we also had two papers published today: Supply Chain Network Capacity Competition with Outsourcing: A Variational Equilibrium Framework, Anna Nagurney, Min Yu, and Deniz Besik,  which was published in the September issue of the Journal of Global Optimization (JOGO):

and Mergers and Acquisitions in Blood Banking Systems: A Supply Chain Network Approach, Amir H. Masoumi, Min Yu, and Anna Nagurney, which was published in the November issue of the International Journal of Production Economics (IJPE).

There has been much going on in the blood services industry in the United States and in January I had an article on the topic published in The Conversation: Uncertainty in Blood Supply Chains Creating Challenges for the Industry, which was reprinted in many news outlets.
Our IJPE article provides not only a new blood supply chain network model that incorporates frequencies of activities such as collection, testing, and distribution, but it also introduces three synergy measures to determine whether or not a merger or acquisition in this industry would be effective.  The case study examines a recent pending merger uner both status quo and disaster scenarios. The IJPE article is already garnering attention and was featured in a news post at the Pamplin School of Business at the University of Portland, where one of my co-authors, Professor Min Yu, is a faculty member.  Below is a photo of the three authors of this paper, with the lead author being Professor Amir H. Masoumi of the School of Business at Manhattan College. Both Dr. Masoumi and Dr. Yu are Isenberg School of Management UMass Amherst PhD alums (and they were also my doctoral students, with whom I continue to collaborate through the Supernetwork Center).
And, I am very excited that I will be delivering a semiplenary talk: Blood Supply Chains: Challenges for the Industry and How Operations Research Can Help  at the International Conference on Operations Research in Berlin, Germany, September 6-8, 2017.  It is an honor to be on the list of semiplenary speakers at this conference, and great to see several friends on the list!

I have been hard at work on my conference presentation, which will describe the latest on blood supply chains from network optimization models to game theory models since this healthcare sector is faced with increasing competition.
Hope you can make it to the conference and, if not, I will be posting my presentation closer to the conference date.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Terrific Experience as a Summer Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University

The past several months, I have been a Summer Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (RIAS) at Harvard University In 2005-2006, I had been a Fellow at RIAS, and previous Fellows can apply to return for the summer. When I became aware of such an opportunity, I applied, and was thrilled to be selected as a Summer Fellow.

Last year I was a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College at Oxford University, and for 4 summers prior, I had spent time as a Visiting Professor at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. I believe that, as an academic, one should put oneself in new surroundings to garner inspiration from. This helps in terms of research and personal growth, which one can then utilize even in teaching.

I thought it would be interesting to head back to Cambridge, Massachusetts and to explore another intellectual center. Since during the year I am based at UMass Amherst this made for a much easier move than the past couple of summers. Remarkably, although Amherst is physically only about 90 minutes away from Cambridge it is very different since it is quite rural.

Living this summer at 83 Brattle Street, which is only two blocks from Harvard Square, as we had back in 2005-2006, made for a 5 minute walk to Radcliffe. The Fellows are now housed in beautiful Byerly Hall in the Radcliffe Yard.

The research projects that I was focusing on this summer included developing and solving game theory models for disaster relief and blood supply chains. With a corner office in Byerly Hall and with a view of a garden and fountain, I could not help but be inspired.  I had asked for a standing desk, and loved working at it, equipped in the morning with a latte from a neighboring cafe.

Immediately I felt welcome, by meeting other Fellows over the years, and seeing staff that had been here when I was at RIAS in 2005-2006. I enjoyed conversations with a novelist, physicists, a biochemist, applied mathematicians, and anthropologists, to name just a few of the disciplines represented.

RIAS, being at Harvard, was also a magnet for many visitors, and I was delighted to be able to have my doctoral students visit, and to get together with other colleagues at Harvard and former students from UMass Amherst as well, and even relatives, with Harvard faculty included.

Radcliffe provided a peaceful, beautiful environment and I am so grateful that when I needed a room with a landline for a radio interview, one was found for me. It was a pleasure being interviewed for the Dr. Matt Townsend Show based on my research on critical infrastructure.

The lunches that the Fellows indulged in at RIAS helped to fortify us as did the conversations and the various seminars.

Since arriving in early June, I managed to prepare (and they were all delivered) 7 different talks, some of which I have posted, including one on June 21st at Radcliffe. We also started  the process of  editing of the new Dynamics of Disasters volume with Ilias S. Kotsireas and Panos M. Pardalos, based on the conference that we co-organized and that took place in early July in Greece. 
I also completed three papers, which were submitted for publication, and revised two others.

The friendliness of the administrators and staff at Radcliffe and the surrounding community added to the wonderful experience. The research continues and support by RIAS is being gratefully acknowledged. RIAS, with its nurturing of creativity, scholarship, and interdisciplinary research,  will always be a second home for me and for this I am extremely thankful.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Great Time Speaking on Investing in Infrastructure on the Dr. Matt Townsend Show

Last April, I published an article in The Conversation, "Calculating where America should invest in its transportation and communication networks." 

The article was republished in multiple publications and in May I received an email from a very friendly segment producer of the Matt Townsend Show. The message stated that Dr. Townsend had read my article, liked it a lot, and would like to have me as a guest on his radio show. Multiple dates as options were provided, but, given my very busy conference schedule this summer, plus the fact that I am a Summer Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (RIAS) at Harvard, we settled on today as the date!

Trying to find a landline was not easy but, thanks to RIAS, a nice quiet and comfortable office was found and I also had a cell phone as a backup. I had listened to several segments of the show and very much enjoyed the facility with which Dr. Townsend asked questions and kept the conversation going on numerous timely topics being addressed by those that he was interviewing.

I came prepared with a bottle of water and my latte from Peet's to keep myself hydrated and pumped, which was easy.
Critical infrastructure networks is a topic I am extremely passionate about and have done research on with wonderful doctoral students from the Isenberg School as well as collaborators from Harvard to many other universities; some of these are Supernetwork Center Associates. Most notably, I mention Dr. Patrick Qiang, with whom I wrote the Fragile Networks book, and which was featured in the interview.

The interview can be accessed online.

Many thanks to Dr. Matt Townsend for the invitation to be on his show and for his terrific questions as an interviewer! I enjoyed the experience a lot.

And, coincidentally, afterwards, I had lunch with Professor David Parkes, a chaired professor of computer science at Harvard. When I was a Science Fellow at RIAS in 2005-2006, he, Professor Patrizia Daniele of the University of Catania, and I co-authored a paper on the Internet and the Braess paradox, which was published. 
Of course, in my interview with Dr. Matt Townsend I had to speak on the Braess paradox!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Operations Researchers Rock in Quebec City - What a Terrific IFORS Conference

I am back from the IFORS (International Federation of Operations Research Societies) conference in Quebec City. It was a delight for numerous reasons and attracted over 1,500 participants from 52 countries which speaks to the interest in operations research globally. This conference takes place once every three years and the next one will be in 2020 in Seoul, Korea.
First, the location of the conference was terrific - the convention center in Quebec City - with large hotels in proximity and amazing parks and old town as well.

Although I was born in Canada, and have been back for numerous conferences and speaking engagements, this was my first time in Quebec City. I travel a lot and Quebec City now ranks in my top group of cities in terms of beauty, greenness, walkability and infrastructure, amenities, cultural opportunities, and the friendliness of the people. The attention to preservation of history and buildings is also outstanding.
I also appreciated that several streets at times of day are for pedestrians only.
This conference had 4 fabulous plenary speakers, including the Nobel laureate in Economics, Alvin Roth, and 1 female - Martine Labbe,  and 10 keynote speakers (4 females among them, including Asu Ozdaglar, whom I have hosted at the Isenberg School).  Special recognition should be given to Egon Balas of Carnegie Mellon University for giving a plenary talk - he is an example for all of us as to how to live and work to the fullest. Professor Balas is in his mid90s and his memoir is a must read.

I enjoyed speaking to Detlof Winterfeldt of USC, who gave a very interesting keynote on a topic that he has worked on for a long time through the DHS Center - CREATE - that of homeland security and decision analysis. I was delighted to see him mention Randy Hall, and to cite the work of Adam Rose, who recently was elected an RSAI Fellow.  On the last slide of his keynote cybersecurity was mentioned (a topic we have been doing a lot of research on). Below is a photo taken with the Executive Director of INFORMS, the always energetic and fabulous, Melissa Moore, and Detlof after his keynote.
A special shoutout to Andres Weintraub of Chile,  who set a new high bar for plenary talks, and who took us on a journey of operations research and practice, overviewing the amazing work he has done with students and collaborators,  on topics ranging from forestry to  mining to enhancing lunches for schoolchildren to a big passion of his - the scheduling of soccer games! He shared the following sage advice in terms of projects:

1. Partner with the person in charge

2. Do not trust anybody (do the whole project)

3. Work daily side by side and

4. Show me the money (free work is not appreciated).

In his plenary talk, he noted how George Nemhauser, an operations research superstar and mentor to generations, came to visit him in Chile to entice him to work on sports scheduling and he also noted Mike Trick, the President of IFORS. Mike deserves applause for his service to IFORS and the profession as well as thanks for the success of this conference as do the organizers. Below is a column by Mike in the latest IFORS newsletter.
Given the size of the conference there were many operations researchers that I did not manage to have a chance to speak to but, nevertheless, I enjoyed not only the scientific talks, and we had two to present, with the titles below, but also seeing many friends and even meeting face to face several Twitter tweeps, including Carlos Zetina, who is a dynamo behing the success of the INFORMS Student Chapter in Montreal..
We had photos taken of the presenters and collaborators in our sessions in which there were speakers from Russia, India, the US, Japan, and the Czech Republic and one of the chairs was from the Philippines.

It was special to see my book, Competing on Supply Chain Quality,  with Michelle Li (who coincidentally got married in Cambridge while I was at IFORS), on display at the Springer booth. And, always, it is great to see the Springer Editors!
The snacks (this is important) were delicious during the breaks and I very much enjoyed the lunch provided on Thursday - joining us at our table was Destenie Nock, a doctoral student at UMass Amherst and a very active member of award-winning UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter.

It was also terrific to see some of the fabulous INFORMS staff members, including Mary Magrogan and Maris van der Eijk.
Another high point was seeing two of my former Isenberg School of Management PhD students, Tina Wakolbinger who is a Professor at the Vienna University of Economics and Business in beautiful Austria and Fuminori Toyasaki, who is a Professor at York University in Toronto.  I had seen them both in Vienna in late June at a conference on Humanitarian Operations that Tina had organized that was very successful and that I had blogged about.

Many thanks to the organizers of this IFORS conference and to all concerned who made it the big success that it was! Thanks also for selecting Quebec City as the conference site - this city is magical. I leave you with photos of some wonderful food, some of which we indulged in, and a photo of a sculpture by Salvador Dali that graced the boardwalk in old town.
And, since I was born in Canada, I also have to wish Canada a Happy 150th Birthday! Indeed, as the rumor has it, Canadians are very polite and nice! When the wind blew my hat off in a rainstorm, two Canadians went running after it in a busy street to retrieve it for me!