Monday, September 15, 2014

Dynamics of Disasters - A Conference Not to be Missed

The number of disasters is growing as well as the number of people affected by them from the Ebola epidemic in western Africa to the floods in Kashmir to humanitarian crises in war-torn Syria, Iraq, and eastern Ukraine. 

The challenges faced by citizens, humanitarian organizations, governments, and even businesses in dealing with disasters are immense and the research questions have never been more timely.

Together, with Professors Panos M. Pardalos and Ilias Kotsireas, we are organizing a conference that will take place in Greece this summer that should not be missed.

The conference is on the theme Dynamics of Disasters and the topics that we are seeking papers and presentations on are below:
  • Disaster communications and social networks
  • Healthcare issues and disaster relief
  • Disaster team coordination, integration, and synergies
  • Humanitarian logistics and relief supply chains
  • Advances in methodological tools for emergency preparedness, response, and risk mitigation
  • Performance metrics for disaster response
  • Critical infrastructure protection and resiliency
  • Financial funding for disaster relief
  • Learning from disasters and response
  • Cooperative game theory
  • Dynamical systems
  • Decision-making under risk and uncertainty
  • Spread of diseases and contagion
  • Modelling and mathematics of disasters.
The Program Committee is nearly complete and we are thrilled to have such a knowledgable and international group:
  1. Irene Abi-Zeid (Universite Laval, Quebec, Canada)
  2. Bradley Adame (Arizona State University, USA)
  3. Fuad Aleskerov (Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia)
  4. Ashwin Arulselvan (Technische Universitaet Berlin, Germany)
  5. Burcu Balcik (Ozyegin University, Industrial Engineering Department, Istanbul, Turkey)
  6. Dirk Brockmann (Institute for Theoretical Biology, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany)
  7. Sergiy Butenko (Texas A&M, USA)
  8. Patrizia Daniele (University of Catania, Italy)
  9. Stanislaw Grzeda (National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, USA)
  10. Jose Holguin-Veras (RPI, USA)
  11. Jacquleen Joseph (Jamsetji Tata Centre for Disaster Management, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India)
  12. Joo-Young Jung (International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan)
  13. Athanasia Karakitsiou (Industrial Logistics, ETS Institute, Lulea University of Technology, Sweden)
  14. Rob Kevlihan (Kimmage Development Studies Centre, Dublin, Ireland)
  15. Evangelos Kranakis (Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada)
  16. Bishawjit Mallick (Karlsruhe, Germany)
  17. Claude Miller (The University of Oklahoma, USA)
  18. Athanasios Migdalas (Industrial Logistics, ETS Institute, Lulea University of Technology, Sweden)
  19. Oleg Prokopyev (Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, USA)
  20. Olivier Rubin (Department of Society and Globalisation, Roskilde University, Denmark)
  21. Karen Smilowitz (Northwestern University, USA)
  22. Fuminori Toyasaki (Logistics and Disaster and Emergency Management, York University, Toronto, Canada)
  23. Chrysafis Vogiatzis (University of Florida, USA)
  24. Tina Wakolbinger (Institute for Transport and Logistics Management, Vienna, Austria)
  25. Francesco Zirilli (Universita di Roma La Sapienza, Italy).
Information on the conference, including the venue and the deadline for paper submissions is at:

I hope that you can join us - we need the best minds to tackle the problems that we are facing.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

So Honored to be Speaking in Berlin on Design of Sustainable Supply Chains Networks for Sustainable Cities

When the invitation came to speak in Berlin, Germany, I was very intrigued especially when I heard that the conference would be interdisciplinary.

I was specifically invited to speak at the Symposium on Physics of Sustainability and Human-Nature-Interactions, which is part of the DPG (the Deutsche Physikalische Geseltschaft) Spring meeting, which will take place March 15-20, 2015 and what a program! I just received the lovely poster announcing this event, which I have posted below. I expect that the attendance will be fabulous.

Many thanks to the organizer:  Professors Jens Christian Claussen, Marc Timme, and Dirk Helbing! Coincidentally, the last time that I saw Dirk was precisely at this time in Zurich, Switzerland at the fabulous ETH Risk Workshop that I blogged about.

In the meantime, I will be practicing my German.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Great 10th Annual Faculty Convocation at UMass Amherst with Photos

Today is a picture perfect September day in beautiful Amherst, Massachusetts.

We just returned from the 10th Annual UMass Amherst Faculty Convocation at which our new Provost, Dr. Katherine Newman, gave her first speech and we honored 8 outstanding faculty members: with the Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity.
Michael Ash, Economics; Center for Public Policy and Administration
W. Bruce Croft, Computer Science
David R. Evans, Educational Policy, Research, and Administration
Lyn Frazier, Linguistics
Panayotis Kevrekidis, Mathematics and Statistics
Barbara Krauthamer, History
Young Min Moon, Art, Architecture and Art History
Shelly Peyton, Chemical Engineering.

It was a wonderful ceremony with music, singing, a great speech by our new provost and remarks by our VCRE Dr. Michael Malone.

I took the photos below at the event and the delicious lunch that followed at the Campus Center. I was joined by my doctoral students in Management Science at the Isenberg School.

 Back in 2005, I was honored with the same award in the first group of recipients. The past decade has flown by!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Professors Are Premier Letter Writers

One reason that I have not posted in a few days is that, yes, I have been very busy writing letters.

The life of a professor has a rhythm, which I very much enjoy, with the semester schedule, the teaching, and with research and service throughout.

Professors are also writers and, not just in terms of publishing, but, also, in terms of letter writing, which you may have thought was a dying art.

Not so, at least not when it comes to professors!

In the Fall, we are very busy writing letters of recommendation for our graduate students, especially doctoral students, as they seek jobs at colleges or universities. A carefully crafted recommendation letter highlighting the student's special strengths and skills can differentiate the application from the others. This is a time-consuming task but also pleasant in that the student has reached this mileston.

In the Fall and Winter, we are also busy, in addition to our other professional duties, with writing letters of recommendation for our undergraduate students who are hoping to secure an exciting job in their majors. Luckily, many of these letters can be uploaded and submitted electronically, which certainly saves on postage and time!

Sometimes, one even receives requests to serve as a reference for a colleague at one's institution or another one, who may be seeking other challenges and is applying for jobs.  One has to make time for such letters, as well.

In the summer (and one gets busier with these the longer one has been in academia), there are many requests to be an outside reviewer of promotion & tenure packets. After 6 requests last summer, several of which were international, I had to decline doing more  because I did not have enough time to review the portfolios and September with the new academic year was approaching.

Also, throughout the year, and deadline depending, there are requests for nomination letters of various sorts - for students awards, faculty awards and fellowships, and even staff awards. This is another important service activity that faculty engage in and, I must say, it is very gratifying, when the applicant or nominee gets the award/job/recognition that you wrote a letter for!

Of course, where would our scholarly communities be without the submission and  reviewing of journal articles?!   These usually require a cover letter, so more writing practice here, as well.

Finally, I feel it is very important (I am rather formal, I do admit) to follow-up speakers' talks with a nice thank you letter. These I may copy to higher level administrators, as well.  Those who put out the extra effort should be recognized and acknowledged and a thank you letter is the least that one can do!  I have a collection of thank you letters hanging in my home office, which I very much appreciate the writers taking the time to do!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Congrats to Our Isenberg School PhD Students in Management Science!

Today was the first day of the new 2014-2015 academic year at UMass Amherst and it was great to see so many students back on campus!

The energy that the students bring to campus is fabulous!

After teaching my undergraduate Logistics & Transportation class, where we experienced, for the first time, a power failure as to the computer technology - no problem - I used the blackboard to introduce the course and syllabus, the good news arrived!

I always say that good news comes in "threes"!

Today, we heard that 3 of our doctoral students in Management Science, all of whom were nominated to attend the 2014 INFORMS doctoral colloquium, which will take place, beginning with a dinner on Friday, November 6, and ending with an all-day affair on Saturday, November 7, 2014, were selected for participation!

The doctoral colloquium takes place immediately before our Annual. INFORMS meeting in San Francisco in November.

Congratulations to Dong "Michelle" Li, who is my doctoral student, working on supply chain competition in quality, to Heng Chen, who is working with Professor Senay Solak, and to Tulay Varol, who is working with our PhD Area Coordinator, Professor Ahmed Ghoniem.

Our Management Science PhD students rock!

Thanks to INFORMS for creating this valuable professional opportunity for our PhD students.

The Isenberg School of Management has a long tradition of its students in Management Science being selected for the INFORMS doctoral colloquium and all who have participated have greatly benefited from and enjoyed the experience. Thank you, INFORMS, for being such an outstanding professional society!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Endowed Professorships at the Isenberg School of Management

Today (yes, it is a Sunday of the Labor Day weekend), we heard the good news from our Dean, Dr. Mark Fuller, via en email message, that two of our faculty have been appointed to Endowed Chaired Professorships. Specifically, Hossein B. Kazemi, a professor of finance at Isenberg, is the new Michael and Cheryl Philipp Professor of Finance.  Kazemi is actually the second holder of the Philipp Professorship - Professor Tom Schneeweis, who recently retired, was the first and assumed it in 2000.

                                   Dr. Hossein Kazemi

Professor Chris Agoglia, who is the chair of our Accounting Department  is the inaugural Richard Simpson Endowed Professor in accounting. This chair honors the legendary Simpson, who taught at our school for 50 years retiring at about age 80. I wrote about Professor Simpson on this blog in a piece entitled, Business Profs Who Make a Difference.

Dr. Chris Agoglia

Kazemi received his PhD from the University of Michigan and is also the Director of CISDM. Agoglia received his PhD from UMass Amherst.  

There are now 7 faculty holding endowed chairs at the Isenberg School of Management so this page will have to be updated!  Our Dean holds the Thomas O'Brien Endowed Chair, named after our long-serving former dean, who because of his outstanding efforts, we have the "Isenberg" School of Management. The Management department has 3 endowed chairs:  Professor Steven Floyd is the Eugene M. Isenberg Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Professor Charles Manz is the Nirenberg Professor of Leadership, and James Theroux  is the Flavin Family Chair in Entrepreneurshi.

I hold the John F. Smith Memorial Professorship of Operations Management and have held this chaired professorship since 1998. It is in honor of the father of Jack Smith Jr., '60, the former CEO of General Motors, who endowed this chair, and is one of our alums. Just last week, I wrote a long letter to Jack Smith thanking him for his support and telling him of the fabulous year at the Isenberg School - especially of the happenings in our new Operations & Information Management department and the Virtual Center for Supernetworks that I founded in 2001 and direct. 

Named professorships come in all "shapes and sizes." There are endowed professorships, which, typically, last until one leaves, retires, or gets carried out. There are even what are sometimes called "folding chairs." These tend to be short-term honorific professorships and may have a set lifetime or be renewable with other holders. Some named professorships may be for only Assistant Professors but, typically, these are for Full Professors, the highest strata of the academic food pyramid.

In any event, please join me in congratulating both Professors Kazemi and Agoglia!

Our Dean in his message stated that:  Our most valuable resources are those individuals that can do it all at a high level: research, teach, serve, and lead; and who are firmly committed to all aspects of our mission including undergraduate and graduate education as well as scholarship.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Network Science for Cybersecurity

We recently heard the good news that our project, "Cybersecurity Risk Analysis for Enterprise Security," is being funded by the Advanced Cyber Security Center (ACSC). The project team consists of - from UMass Amherst: Professor Wayne Burleson of the College of Engineering, and Professors Mila Sherman and Senay Solak from the Isenberg School of Management, plus me, and from MIT - Professor Andrew Lo of the Sloan School, who needs no introduction.  This project is actually a second step, following in the footsteps of our first ACSC project, which was a Prime the Pump project, "Cybersecurity Risk Analysis and Investment Optimization," with Chris Misra of OIT of UMass also being on that project with us.

On Friday, September 19, 2014, we will be holding a workshop at the Sloan School at MIT on the theme of the new project and we are busy now with teleconferences and finalizing the organization of the day. We expect over 50 attendees and have already had a great response from various financial service firms, insurance companies, MITRE, RSA, and EMC, to start. We also expect participation from researchers of neighboring universities, and even pharmaceutical firms.

It should be a very exciting event.

The Co-PIs will be giving presentations and we are also scheduling panels for a lot of discussion.

I will be speaking on Network Science for Cybersecurity. This topic encapsulates nicely much of the research that my group at the Supernetworks Center has done on network vulnerability and resiliency. I also plan on including some of our latest results on cyber crime, which I had the pleasure of speaking on last year at the great INFORMS conference in Minneapolis and also, in a broader context,at the INFORMS Analytics conference in Boston last April, which was simply fabulous!
 The above presentation can be downloaded in its entirety here.

We are very grateful to the ACSC for their continuing support and vision!