Sunday, February 1, 2015

Water Pipe Bursts at the Isenberg School - Not a Super Sunday Morning

Early this morning, after a nice breakfast out, I stopped by with my husband, as I usually do, at the Isenberg School of Management, where I teach, to drop off some lecture notes and to pick up a book. It was about 7:40AM.

As we were about to enter the school through the entrance closest to the parking lots we saw three young adults (not UMass students - I asked)  exiting (2 males and 1 female). They were quite upset and said that while they were in the atrium they heard a sounds like water rippling and then the noise got louder and parts of the ceiling above the other entrance door collapsed. My husband quickly called 911 and asked to be connected to UMass Police and he shared the news about the water pipe break, most likely due to a sprinkler system. The fire alarm was blaring throughout the building and the fire alarm lights were flashing. When we entered with water around our ankles there was an unpleasant odor such as a mix of rubber.

We walked around the school to the other entrance, which is closest to the Whitmore Administration Building and faces a patio. We were greeted by a waterfall over the door with water that was now flowing out both doors and moving past the atrium. One could see part of the ceiling over that door dangling.

First to arrive was EH&S, followed by two fire trucks from the Amherst Fire Department, and then UMass police, which we spoke to. They were all on-site by 8AM.

Needless to say we also notified several of our Isenberg School administrators and sent over photos, which I have posted below.

This event was very disconcerting because directly below the space that was flooded - and the patio outside was turning into an ice rink -  are computer labs, a lot of high technology equipment,  and computer servers.

We received a message from TSS that many of the servers are down and, indeed, I can't get on the Supernetwork Center site that we update regularly. At around 8:30AM or so we were very happy to see Susan Boyer who heads TSS, who had to drive in a ways to campus this morning. She was very concerned about the servers and an email message was sent out to the school.

Coincidentally, I am now teaching my Humanitarian Logistics & Healthcare class in which we take alot about emergency preparedness and, yes, even about the winter storm Juno of last week and the importance of accurate weather forecasting, along with business continuity.

Speaking with physical plant folks, about the status of the flood at the Isenberg School,  they are assessing the situation and the area is closed off. This is a very special place and school for many of us so I hope that operations are restored soon.

We have the first guest speaker coming this Wednesday to speak in my Humanitarian Logistics class. I checked my Supernetworks Lab and since it is on the opposite side of the basement in the Isenberg School in a slightly elevated part, it looked untouched by the water.

At 9AM physical plant was cleaning up and drying out the first floor part.

And, besides it being Super Bowl night tonight another major snowstorm is in the forecast.

Times like these, we learn to be resilient and to practice disruption management!

Many thanks to the town of Amherst and UMass first responders for arriving on the scene so quickly. Let's hope that our computer servers will also be restored to full functionality soon, as well.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Isenberg School of Management Prominent in UMass Amherst Annual Report on Research

Today, I received the hardcopy of the UMass Amherst Annual Report on Research, which is an elegantly produced and very informative report, thanks to the Editor, Karen J. Hayes.

The report begins with a message from our Vice Chancellor for Research & Engagement (VCRE), Dr. Mike Malone, who also is the Ronnie & Eugene Isenberg Distinguished Professor of Engineering. Research awards topped $165.5 million this year, which is quite impressive.

In the report is a segment called Faculty Bookshelf, which I always enjoy browsing through, and this year, 5 out of the 20 books featured are by Isenberg School of Management faculty! We have certainly been busy. It was great to see our book, "Networks Against Time: Supply Chain Analytics for Perishable Products," written with two of my former doctoral students, Professor Min Yu of the University of Portland and Professor Amir H. Masoumi of Manhattan College, and with Professor Ladimer S, Nagurney (the other Professor Nagurney).

And, just below our book, is the new book by our great new Provost, Dr. Katherine S. Newman!

Somehow the report made it to my Isenberg School mailbox although it was addressed to my husband who seems to be in the UMass database as a faculty member in my department (not true)!
Also, in the Annual Report is a feature on Incubating Innovation, in which the Isenberg Scholar Award recipients for 2014 are noted with an interview with my doctoral student, Sara Saberi and photo included. The online version appeared earlier on the ResearchNext website - thanks!

Congrats to all thirteen 2014 Isenberg Scholar Award recipients, an award which comes with a $10,000 fellowship! In addition to Sara, two other recipients are from my department and are doctoral students in Management Science - quite exceptional - David Agogo and Yueran Zhuo. I also mention Michael Prokle, from Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, since although he is not one of our grad students, he is the President of our UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter, so he is definitely part of the Isenberg School "family."

Last, but not least, there is a stunning article (I am a bit biased), Internext, which highlights two of the five NSF Future Internet Architecture (FIA) projects that are based at UMass Amherst. The article discusses MobilityFirst and our ChoiceNet project (which Sara has been working on and also my doctoral student Dong "Michelle" Li). The article can be read online here. I love the quote from our VCRE in it:

“The fact that our campus was selected to take a leadership role on two of the five FIA projects speaks volumes about our faculty expertise,” says Mike Malone, Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement. “We take an interdisciplinary approach to science, which is critical to an initiative of this size.”

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Faculty Job Candidates Need to be Resilient - Some Helpful Tips

This has been quite the week with winterstorm Juno resulting in the cancellation of over 7,000 flights in the U.S.

Today, UMass Amherst and many other universities and colleges were closed in the Northeast because of what was forecast to be a blizzard of historical proportions but, luckily, it did not quite earn that title in either NYC or Boston and we even managed to go out for a nice walk in Amherst once our driveway and street got plowed! The beautiful island of Nantucket, however,  did get hit fiercely and is without power.

This week was also the week in which we had scheduled interviews of 4 candidates for a faculty position in my department. One managed to make it to the interview that took place yesterday but did not get out, as planned. The interviews for today and tomorrow got cancelled but they have been rescheduled for next week. Another candidate will be interviewed this Friday and we don't expect any delays due to weather.

It's been quite a bad winter in terms of travel to interviews. One of my doctoral students who is on the job market had major delays on one of her itineraries to a campus interview and arrived a day late (so much for showing up on time but these are matters beyond one's control). And, yes, the delays were at Chicago O'Hare where she ended up overnighting. On another interview trip of hers she arrived at 1AM, which was 4AM her body time since the destination was California. She managed the interviews but then her presentation got rescheduled 2 days afterwards - this is a new one for me - so it will have been a 5 day span rather than a 3 day span for the interview and visit!

Clearly, faculty job candidates need to be resilient! The interview itself may take two days, under the "easiest" of circumstances and one needs endurance from the breakfast meetings to dinners that can linger plus numerous meetings with faculty, administrators, including deans, and even staff. One has to be energetic, positive, and enthusiastic because the department is looking for a colleague and you are also being evaluated on how good of a fit you will be in terms of research, teaching, service, and collegiality!

It so happens that, at least in the fields of operations management and also operations research and management science many of the on-campus interviews take place in December, January, and February so there may always be issues with weather.

I recall a few years back when we were searching for faculty for 2 positions in my department and I was co-chairing the search committees. We brought 7 candidates in to the Isenberg School over 2 weeks in December and one of those candidates was here during a blizzard, when UMass closed. But, luckily, the University Club stayed open for us so that we could host him for a nice lunch! And, since he was originally from a region close to Siberia, he loved the snow!

One of my very successful former doctoral students (I have had quite a few of them),  Dr. Jose M. Cruz, who is now an Associate Professor at the School of Business at the University of Connecticut and is also the Director of its great Master's Program in Business Analytics and Project Management, gave a great talk a few years ago in our INFORMS Speaker Series.
The title of his talk was:"The Myths and Facts of How to Get a Tenure Track Academic Job and How to Get Tenure" and you can download it here.  There are wonderful tips in the presentation to make your interview more pleasant for you and for the those who are interviewing you!

Also, The Chronicle of Higher Education produced a document, "The Quick and Relatively Painless Guide to Your Academic Job Search," which is free and you can access it through here.  The guide is written by Dr. Karen Kelsky and it is excellent. The document contains nice graphics including those below illustrating the path of a job application.

Although it states that usually 3 candidates are brought to campus, I know that in fields of business, we usually bring 4 and, last year, when I served on the Search Committee for a faculty opening in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at UMass, we brought in 5 candidates and we were dealing with ice storms, snowstorms - you get the drill!

Best of luck to all those on the academic job market and I hope that you find the above resources helpful.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Great Week for Our Research on Networks

Last week was the first week of the new academic semester at UMass Amherst and it was a very exciting one.

I always very much enjoy meeting new students in the courses that I am teaching.

Plus, it was a great week for news on our research on Networks.

One of the best things about collaborations, besides the synergy and dynamism of researching tough problems together, is that, when one gets good news, such as a paper getting accepted, or hearing of its publication, and/or some great publicity about the work, you can share it and celebrate together - even if it is across the miles!

This week, Luis Marentes, who was a visiting doctoral student in the College of Engineering at UMass Amherst last year, and who is from Colombia, Professor Tilman Wolf (who was his host), and with whom I have a large NSF grant, and Professors Yezid Donoso and Harold Castro of the  Department of Systems and Computing Engineering, Universidad de los Andes in  Bogota, Colombia, and I had our paper, "Overcoming Economic Challenges of Internet Operators in Low Income Regions through a Delay Tolerant Architecture with Mechanic Backhauls," appear online in the journal NetnomicsIt was great to share in the happiness of all those involved in this publication, which is on the dynamic pricing of Delay Tolerant Networks, and proposes a new computer architecture. To-date, there has been minimal work on the pricing in this domain and the identification of the potential profitability of Internet Service Providers in poor, and, often, rural communities, where even mechanic (even in the form of mule transportation) may be used to transport Internet information.

Also, our paper, "Securing the Sustainability of Global Medical Nuclear Supply Chains Through Economic Cost Recovery, Risk Management, and Optimization," co-authored with Professor Ladimer S. Nagurney of the University of Hartford and my doctoral student, Dong "Michelle" Li, appeared this week in the special issue of the International Journal of Sustainable Transportation devoted to Sustainability in Transportation Networks.  The paper was accepted for publication close to 3 years ago so it was nice to see it officially in the journal volume!

The first paper above has 5 co-authors, the second one has 3, and the one below only one (but ensuing ones on cybersecurity will have co-authors).  Specifically, the paper, "A Multiproduct Network Economic Model of Cybercrime in Financial Services,  that I wrote after our very successful Advanced Cyber Security Workshop at the MIT Sloan School last Fall, received very nice reviews from an INFORMS journal, and it has been revised and resubmitted. In the Acknowledgments I also thank the audience who came to my presentation at the Boston INFORMS Analytics conference in Spring 2014, which was a fabulous conference!

Another highlight this past week was having our NSF project: Network Innovation Through Choice, which we are calling ChoiceNet, and for which Professor Wolf and I are PI and Co-PI (along with 5 other Co-PIs from the University of Kentucky, NCState, and the Renaissance Institute (RENCI) at UNC) being featured on the UMass Amherst Research website in Research Next.  And the article, Internext, UMass Amherst experts are driving the future of Internet infrastructure, will appear in the 2014 UMass Amherst Annual Report on Research which will be available, I am told, by the end of this month. 

This should be a very exciting week as well with many interview candidates coming both to the Isenberg School and to UMass and with a major snowstorm forecast for early this week!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hosting Amazing Speakers in Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare

Today is the first class meeting for my course, Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare, a course that I taught last year at the Isenberg School. I have also taught an intense version of this course at the Vienna University of Economics and Business in Austria and have been invited to offer it there again.

Logistics is one of my passions and Humanitarian Logistics is a subject that is not only extremely timely but also very challenging from multiple perspectives. Hence, it is a topic that is interdisciplinary and is continuing to evolve.

An important, and much appreciated part of the course, by both students (and me), is the experts that I bring in to speak to the class. We all come prepared with many questions and benefit greatly from the speakers' expertise on the front lines.

This year, in the month of February alone, we will be hosting:

  • Ms. Deborah Wilson, a registered nurse, who worked on the
    frontlines of the Ebola crisis in Liberia with Doctors Without Borders.
  • Mr. Jeff Hescock, Director of University Emergency Management
    and Business Continuity at UMass Amherst.
  • Mr. Brian Rust, Manager of Security Services and Emergency
    Preparedness Coordinator at Cooley Dickinson Hospital.
  • Ms. Kim Goulette, Executive Director of the Pioneer Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross.
We are so grateful and appreciative to all the above experts for the time that they take out of their very busy schedules to come to the Isenberg School to share their experiences and lessons learnes with us!

I am looking forward to a very exciting class and a great semester!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Future Internet Infrastructure Research at UMass Amherst and at the Isenberg School

I was delighted to hear this morning from Karen Hayes, the Director of Research Communications and Outreach, that the Feature Article, UMass Amherst experts are driving the future of Internet infrastructure, is now online on the ResearchNext website.

The faculty from Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Isenberg School of Management that appear in the article were interviewed last summer.

It is truly amazing that at UMass Amherst there are two (out of the five) funded National Science Foundation (NSF) Future Internet Architecture (FIA) projects.

As the article notes, my doctoral students and I are working with Professor Tilman Wolf of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering on the FIA project that we are calling ChoiceNet. Our collaborators include colleagues at the University of Kentucky (Professors Ken Calvert and Jim Griffioen), NCState (Professors Rudra Duuta and George Rouskas), and RENCI an UNC (Dr. Ilya Baldine). My doctoral students who have been funded on this NSF grant are: Sara Saberi, who is an Isenberg Scholar Award recipient, and Dong "Michelle" Li, who received the Outstanding Doctoral Student Researcher Award from the Isenberg School in 2014.  Both Sara and Michelle are PhD students in the Management Science track at the Isenberg School.

Just last week, I spoke at the INFORMS Computing Society conference on our latest research on ChoiceNet in the form of introducing duration-based contracts for Internet services so as to offer consumers more choices.  The paper, which is online, thanks to INFORMS and the great conference Proceedngs editors, is: A Game Theory Model for a Differentiated Service-Oriented Internet with Duration-Based Contracts,  Anna Nagurney, Sara Saberi, Tilman Wolf, and Ladimer S. Nagurney, Proceedings of ICS 2015: Operations Research and Computing: Algorithms and Software for Analytics, Brian Borchers, J. Paul Brooks, and Laura McLay, Editors, INFORMS (2015) pp 15-29. Our presentation can be viewed here.

The project page for ChoiceNet is here where you can find some of our papers.

I very much liked the quote from our Vice Chancellor in the article: “The fact that our campus was selected to take a leadership role on two of the five FIA projects speaks volumes about our faculty expertise,” says Mike Malone, vice chancellor for research and engagement. “We take an interdisciplinary approach to science, which is critical to an initiative of this size.”

In addition to ChoiceNet, the other FIA project that UMass Amherst researchers are involved in is MobilityFirst. Professors Jim  Kurose, Arun Venkataramani, and Michael Zink are working on that project.  And, for those who have not heard, Distinguished University Professor Jim Kurose of Computer Science is now the new Program Director of CISE (Computer & Information Science & Engineering)  Directorate at NSF!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Celebrating 6 Years of Blogging

Today marks the completion of 6 years of writing on this blog, which I started back on January 19, 2009, with a new administration and the New Year.

It has been a terrific journey and I thank all of my readers who have extended their appreciation for my posts.

I continue to believe that there is still much to be said, celebrated, and commented on so I look forward to continuing to write on this blog.

I have tried to provide tips for academic job seekers, for researchers, as well as for students, and to acknowledge achievements of both students and faculty and those who make a difference in people's lives.  I have also tried my best to recognize those who have been great mentors, educators, and leaders.

Research has also been a consistent, very important topic on this blog, RENeW (Research, Education, Networks and the World) as well as travel experiences and observations on academic lifestyles in different countries, Sweden included.

I have tried to include photos in may posts as well as useful links.

And today, as we celebrate Martin Luther King's Day, I recognize the importance of having different voices and perspectives heard and acknowledged.

Looking forward to a great new semester, which begins at UMass tomorrow!