Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Investing in Our Students: Donating a Scholarship

When I was appointed the John F. Smith Memorial Professor of Operations Management at the Isenberg School in 1998, becoming the first female to hold a chaired professorship in the UMass system, I thought of ways that I could give back.

With the enthusiastic support of my husband, we decided to establish a scholarship for Operations Management undergraduate students in the Isenberg School. After years of donations, 5 years ago, delightfully, when I was a Visiting Professor at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, I heard from one of Isenberg's former development officers, Bonnie Dowd, that there were sufficient funds to give out a scholarship, called The Nagurney Scholarship.

The former Dean, Dr. Thomas O'Brien, helped in setting up the original account and figuring out the payments to make this scholarship realizable and for this we are very grateful.

I am very pleased that we have now have had 4 Nagurney Scholarship recipients. The scholarship focuses on students who have interests in Transportation and Logistics and a committee (which I cannot be part of since I am the donor) decides who will get the scholarship.

Today, I was so happy to have the most recent recipient stop by during my office hours after I taught (and thoroughly enjoyed) my Transportation and Logistics class so we took the photo below.

It was great to catch up and she shared with me the fabulous news that she had secured an offer from a  leading consulting firm in Boston! Prevous Nagurney Scholarship recipients, all Operations and Information Management majors at the Isenberg School, have gone on to positions at top services and manufacturing firms.

The first Nagurney Scholarship recipient was honored, along with other scholarship recipients, at a lovely, special event in the spring of 2014 that I had blogged about. The photo below was taken at that event and joining me are his mother and our great Isenberg School Dean Dr. Mark A. Fuller.
In 2015 the scholarship celebration was moved to UMass Amherst.
Scholarships help tremendously in supporting deserving students so that they can focus on their academic work. The Thank You notes from the scholarship recipients I treasure.

For a full list of scholarships at the Isenberg School click here.

As a Professor I am proud that the Nagurney Scholarship, my teaching, publications,  and supervision of doctoral students are key parts of my legacy. The undergraduate scholarship also signifies the importance of undergraduate students to my work at the Isenberg School and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

International OR2017 Berlin Conference Was Fabulous with 910 Participants from 46 Countries

Yesterday evening I arrived back in Massachusetts from the fabulous International Conference on Operations Research, OR2017 Berlin, in Germany.

The invitation to delivery a semiplenary talk at this conference I received back in November 2016 from Professor Jan Ehmke, a super creative, dynamic, and productive scholar in transportation and logistics and very well-known in our INFORMS community. Professor Ehmke was one of the two Chairs of the Program Committee, along with Professor Natalia Kliewer of the Freie University,  and was also on the Organizing Committee. It took me only about 24 hours to respond with a resounding, "Yes." I figured it was doable, although the dates of the conference September 6-8, 2017, coincided with the first week of classes at UMass Amherst. Professor Ehmke kindly scheduled my semiplenary on the Friday, the last day of the conference, so that I could meet with my Transportation & Logistics class students for the first class and a wonderful doctoral student covered the second class. (I am bringing back a lot of chocolates for the students). Also, I am delighted that we now again have a direct link from our local airport, Bradley in Hartford/Springfield, to Europe, with a daily flight to Dublin via Aer Lingus, which made the trip to Europe and back in 4 days manageable.

I gave Dr. Ehmke a list of topics that I could speak on and the one selected was: Blood Supply Chains: Challenges for the Industry and How Operations Research Can Help. 

So, after teaching my first class this past Tuesday, I was off to the OR2017 Berlin conference via Aer Lingus, with a short layover in Dublin, and I arrived Wednesday morning in Berlin. Accommodations were in the Harnack Haus, a historical scientific building, with additional rooms across the street and in proximity to the conference venue, which was the Freie University, in a green and stunning part of Berlin known as Dahlem.
 The main building there for the conference was the Henry Ford Building.
Shortly after registering at the guest house, and while marching with my luggage to the site of my room, I was greeted on the street by the Chairs of the conference: Professor Natalia Kliewer and Professor Rolf Borndorfer of the Freie University.

After freshening up, and, before going to the sessions, since the scientific program with a theme of the conference being: Decision Analytics for the Digital Economy, I treated myself to a marvelous lunch at the neighboring French cafe (several of us also indulged in some baked treats the day after).
The conference had numerous coffee breaks, receptions, a conference dinner, and even lunches, at which one could socialize and discuss with speakers their research.
Below is a photo taken with Professor Ehmke.
It was special to see my colleague from the University of Connecticut School of Business, Professor and now Associate Dean Robert Day, who also took advantage of our new air link to Europe.
I thoroughly enjoyed all the talks that I attended and, of course, the plenary and semiplenary talks, as well (although it was tough to decide which ones to go since the latter had multiple parallel ones).  The scientific quality of the presentations was uniformly excellent and I very much enjoyed talks from sustainability and logistics themes to social network models to machine learning and optimization.
I enjoyed speaking with Christian Rauscher, a Springer editor, and his colleague at the Springer display booth. I have seen Christian at wonderful Operations Research conferences around the globe.
Also it was a pleasure to see fellow INFORMS Fellow, Dr. Robert Fourer, who even came to my semiplenary talk.

Another wonderful experience was seeing the one and only Professor Marco Lubbecke from Aachen, who also gave a semiplenary talk and meeting Professor Jan Ehmke's dissertation supervisor at a sumptious breakfast: Professor Dirk Mattfeld.

Professor Stefan Zimmer was the chair of my semiplenary session and afterwards I was presented with a lovely gift of a personalized mug with the title of my talk on it and some yummy gummy bears inside.
After my presentation, I spoke with conferees from India who are also working on blood supply chains. Amazing to have 46 different countries represented at this conference!
And to make this conference experience extraordinarily special, while taking an exploratory walk after sessions on Thursday I saw the billboard of Angela Merkel below

and I came upon the John F. Kennedy Institute at the Freie University, where I had given an invited talk 15 years ago, when I was a Distinguished Chair at the University of Innsbruck under a Fulbright.
Coincidentally, when I received my PhD from Brown University in Applied Mathematics in 1983, with a specialty in Operations Research, John F. Kennedy Jr. received his undergraduate degree and his mother, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, was there (and my mother was thrilled). I have also met his sister Caroline Kennedy at an event at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University a while back.

This was my third trip to Berlin - in March 2015 I  gave a plenary talk at a physics conference entitled: Design of Sustainable Supply Chains for Sustainable Cities.

The OR2017 Berlin conference set new standards as to attention to detail and organization and I am very grateful for experiences that I will never forget.

Of course, I also had to indulge in some Wiener schnitzel, which will keep me fortified for quite a while, and it was as delicious as it looks in the photo below.

And, on my flight back from Dublin to Hartford/Springfield I rewarded myself by watching the movie Hidden Figures, about AfroAmerican female mathematicians who made an impact on the NASA space program. And, when the Euler method was mentioned as the method Katherine Johnson used to approximate a very important trajectory in a eureka type moment, I was thrilled. Our work on projected dynamical systems, which I had mentioned in my semiplenary talk, also involves a general iterative scheme, with a special case being the Euler method!

Plus, guess which books have been on my bedside stand?!
During OR2017 Berlin, we received messages that the INFORMS conference will take place at the originally scheduled dates in Houston, despite Hurricane Harvey, so I hope to see again many colleagues back in the US. And, strangely enough, the case study that I described in my semiplenary talk, based on our recently published paper, was focused on a blood service organization in Florida potentially merging with another organization under status quo and disaster scenarios, and now we await the brunt force of Hurricane Irma, the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic.

Operations Research has never been more important!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Amazing INFORMS Judith Liebman Award Winners and Student Volunteers

Today is the deadline for submitting your nomination for the INFORMS Judith Liebman Award. 

According to the INFORMS website: The Judith Liebman Award has been established to recognize outstanding student volunteers who have been "moving spirits" in their universities, their student chapters, and the Institute. The award will be an 11x8 mounted certificate signed by the Vice President for Chapters/Student Chapters/Fora, and a letter of congratulations, in a form suitable for sending to each recipient's department chair.

The full list of recipients, to-date, beginning with 2004 until 2016 can be found here.

And what a truly impressive list of amazing student volunteers they were (and some still are students). Many have gone on to much prominence at their places of employment and also at INFORMS.

Today was also the day that the official notification went out to the recipients of the 2017 INFORMS Service Award, and, since I had the pleasure of serving on that committee, with Dr. Lauren Davis as Chair, I am reflecting on the importance of volunteerism. Clearly, Hurricane Harvey has also put us in a frame of mind of  "volunteering" in whatever way feasible. Last year I was among the group very honored to receive the first set of INFORMS Service Awards. The recipients of both the above awards will be honored at our Annual INFORMS conference, which is supposed to be in Houston in October, but we will see if the location is moved. 

I have met Dr. Judith Liebman, after whom the award is named. She was a contemporary of my PhD advisor, Dr, Stella Dafermos, and both were PhD students in Operations Research at Johns Hopkins University together. A wonderful blogpost on Dr. Liebman, and some of her impact, can be found in a post by her granddaughter Lauren.

Speaking of the dynamos who have received the Judith Liebman Award and that I have had the pleasure of interacting with, I mention Thiago Serra of CMU, a 2016 recipient, with whom I had  dined not long ago at the UMass Club in Boston. Joining us was also Dr. Michael Prokle, a 2015 recipient of the award, who recently received his PhD from UMass Amherst. Michael is a Data Scientist at Philips Research North America working on health care related projects.
Plus, Dr. Amir H. Masoumi, who received the Judith Liebman Award in 2013 (and was one of my PhD students), and who is now an Assistant Professor at the School of Business at Manhattan College, also joined us. Amir has been heavily involved in the School of Business' annual Analytics Competition, which, in 2016, had, as its keynote speaker, Dr. Anne Robinson of Verizon,
who not only is a previous President of INFORMS (I believe the youngest one ever) but she was also a recipient of the Judith Liebman Award the very first year that it was given, back in 2004!

Below is a photo of Dr. Robinson being thanked by Dr. Masoumi after her keynote speech.
I would be remiss not to acknowledge Dr. Kayse Maass, also a recipient of the Judith Liebman Award, the same year as Michael Prokle, and now a researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis. Kayse is doing extraordinary work in healthcare modeling as well as battling human trafficking. I had the pleasure of seeing Kayse at a workshop sponsored by NSF on Disrupting Illicit Supply Networks last May at the University of Texas Austin. Below is a photo taken at the workshop in which also Dr. Georgia-Ann Klutke, the NSF Program Officer, and Dr. Renata Konrad of WPI, who has written with Kayse, appear.
In 2006, there were two recipients of the Judith Liebman Award, Dr. Burcu Keskin, an extremely active INFORMS member, and my former doctoral student (I had nominated her) Dr. Tina Wakolbinger, who is now a Full Professor (having achieved this status only 4 years after her PhD from UMass Amherst) at the Vienna University of Economics and Business in beautiful Austria. The photo below of Tina and me was taken in Vienna this past June at a conference on Humanitarian Operations organized by Tina. Tina was instrumental in helping me to start the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter, and she, along with Burcu, wrote up guidelines, on how to do this for INFORMS.

In 2009, Dr. Qiang "Patrick" Qiang received the Judith Liebman Award. I had nominated Patrick, who was my PhD student, and whose dissertation received a national transportation award. He is my co-author of the book: Fragile Networks: Identifying Vulnerabilities and Synergies in an Uncertain World. Patrick is now a tenured Professor at the Graduate School of Professional Studies at Pennsylvania State University Great Valley. 

And to show the kind of support Patrick and Amir provide to the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter, which they were all part of and their extraordinary efforts garnered them the Judith Liebman Award, below is a photo from the Nashville INFORMS conference in November 2016 taken at the student chapter award and Judith Liebman Award ceremonies. They come back to support the students and for this I am eternally grateful.
Above I have only highlighted those Judith Liebman Award recipients that I know personally. All recipients deserve a big round of applause for their hard work, selflessness, and energy!

I might mention that just being nominated is an honor. And, since some have asked, yes, you must be an INFORMS member for two years to be considered eligible for this award, which is only given for work as a student volunteer. In addition, you can receive the award shortly after receiving your PhD.

Looking forward to hearing this year's recipients.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Hurricane Harvey, Texas, and All of Us

This has been quite the extraordinary week with the solar eclipse (amazing) on August 21 followed only a few days later by Hurricane Harvey (horrific), which is causing "epic, catastrophic" flooding in Houston, Texas,  the 4th most populated city in the US. 

The path of the hurricane can be viewed here. 

To emphasize the significance of this natural disaster, which has been called a one in a 500 year flood, major news sites such as The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times, have all removed their paywalls, which is also being already referred to as the worst natural disaster to ever hit Texas.

You may ask, why worry about what is happening in Texas? First of all, this natural disaster hits "close to home." As an academic,  I know many faculty at universities in Texas and to see some closing down, making tough decisions as to what to do with students, and when to reopen,  reminds me of Hurricane Sandy back in October 2012 when my daughter was a college freshman and her college (as did many in the affected areas of the Northeast) closed, and she could not even make it back to Amherst because there was no public transportation due to fuel shortages. A niece of mine had just started her freshman year at Tulane University in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck but she had had sufficient warning that she was able to get a flight back to Kansas and that university was closed for an entire semester. And my daughter had spent the summer before her senior year of college as an intern researcher at the marvelous Lunar and Planetary Institute, which is located in Houston. I remember her flying from Sweden where she was visiting me when I had an appointment as a Visiting Professor at the University of Gothenburg and flying then to Houston, which had had some rain, and I was worried at that point about flooding. Now, because of Hurricane Harvey, there are very few passable roads in the surrounding Houston area, flights are halted at both Houston airports (how would crews and workers even make it there?), hospitals are without power and running water, and folks are being told to shelter in place and to bring axes to their attics so that they can break through attics to the rooftops to be rescued. 911 operators are overwhelmed with calls.

There are many questions being raised as, for example, why was Houston not evacuated? 
And the relatively new FEMA Director is saying that recovery from the deadly Harvey disaster "could take years."

The last time I was in Texas was last May, when the NSF-funded Workshop on Disrupting Illicit Supply Networks, took place at the University of Texas Austin. It was a fascinating workshop with a focus on human trafficking with very dedicated researchers and practitioners in attendance. Since Hurricane Harvey struck, I have sent messages to operations research colleagues at Texas A&M University, UTAustin, and Rice University, which is in Houston, and, although I have not heard back (yet) from them, I do hope that they are in a safe place.

If you recall Hurricane Katrina, which was the costliest natural disaster, and occurred in August 2005 (Superstorm Sandy was the second costliest one in the US),  the Annual INFORMS Conference (which is the conference of my major professional society) was supposed to take place that Fall in New Orleans - the conference did take place but was moved to San Francisco that November. This year, our INFORMS Conference is supposed to take place in Houston in October! Time will tell but, in the meantime, we have all those dealing and struggling with Hurricane Harvey in our hearts and prayers.

Houston, not only because of its size is so crucial to the US, but it is also an oil and gas hub. Hence, there could be major economic ramifications, and perhaps even environmental ones due to the destruction by Hurricane Harvey. And, it was the primary residence of the Isenberg family (Gene Isenberg was the former CEO of Nabors Industries) and our School of Management at UMass Amherst bears his name.

I do a lot of work in the disaster research area and also teach a course on humanitarian logistics and in recent papers we have focused on, among other topics, issues of coordination post disasters of relief agencies using game theory. A paper of ours on the topic is: A Generalized Nash Equilibrium Network Model for Post-Disaster Humanitarian Relief, Anna Nagurney, Emilio Alvarez Flores, and Ceren Soylu, Transportation Research E 95: (2016), pp 1-18. For a general audience I wrote an article on the topic for The Conversation: How disaster relief efforts could be improved with game theory. Also recently, we published an article on the importance of communications in emergencies: FirstNet for emergency communications: 6 questions answered. 

And my most recent co-edited book, with Ilias S. Kotsireas and Panos M. Pardalos, which includes very timely papers, even on evacuation networks, is: Dynamics of Disasters; Key Concepts, Models, Algorithms, and Insights.

Thinking of all those in Texas suffering through this natural disaster and the rains are to continue for several more days!

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.