Wednesday, October 19, 2016

My Upcoming Plenary Talk in New York City on Cybersecurity, Game Theory, and Operations Research

When the invitation arrived a few months ago from Professor Quanyan Zhu of New York University asking me whether I would be interested in giving a plenary talk at a conference in New York City, I did not hesitate. The conference, SecGames 2016, Decision and Game Theory for Security, will take place November 2-4, 2016.

First, the theme of the conference meshes perfectly with one of my major research themes; secondly, the venue is one of my favorite cities (I grew up in neighboring Yonkers), plus the season - mid-Fall is also perfect, and I had collaborated with Professor Zhu on another initiative.

Also, I do believe in the importance of having female plenary speakers at technical conferences, so it is important, when invited, and it is feasible (I am not on another continent speaking elsewhere), to accept the invitation.

The conference has a great organizing committee and the technical program committee consists of leaders in game theory and cybersecurity.

I have started working on my presentation, which is on: Game Theory Models of Cybercrime and Cybersecurity Investments Under Network Vulnerability. I am having a terrific time preparing my presentation. In my presentation I will focus on research that I have done both independently and with collaborators which integrates game theory and operations research.
As a plenary speaker, one has to generate and sustain interest among the audience members, so, of course, it is important to have great content and a topic that one is very excited to be speaking on.

I am one of two plenary speakers - with the other one being Dr. George Cybenko of Dartmouth.

UMass Amherst has an announcement for my plenary talk at this conference.

I have had some wonderful speaking engagements in NYC, some not very typical. In fact, just yesterday, while teaching my Transportation and Logistics class about the Braess paradox, I showed my students a segment of a videoclip of the World Science Festival panel in NYC on Traffic that I was part of in 2009, which was an extraordinary experience.
 Also, in 2013, I was on the Transportation panel, along with Dr. Janette Sadik-Khan, at the New York Times Energy for Tomorrow conference in NYC. The panel was moderated by the Times columnist Joe Nocera. You can view the video here.

In November 2008 I was a plenary speaker at the North American Regional Science Association in Brooklyn and my presentation can be downloaded here.
I remember walking fondly over the Brooklyn Bridge, which is a favorite bridge of mine, and I hope to do that again next month in NYC!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Academic Promotion Letter Writing Season

This morning I sent off my 6th (and final) letter of the season evaluating a promotion case. In my dreams I had been ruminating about it throughout the night and, when I woke up, the language just flowed. It was a promotion to Full Professor case. A Full Professor is the highest rank in academia, outside of a Distinguished Professor or Chaired Professor rank, which are tops (I hold a Chaired Professorship and am very honored by this recognition).

I already received an acknowledgment that my letter was received  so I have a sense of accomplishment and I hope that the case goes positive up the academic hierarchy.

For my readers who are not in academia, typically, in the mid to late Summer and early Fall letter writers are solicited by Department Chairs or, sometimes, Deans, from academics outside of the candidate's home college or university. When its is a matter of promotion from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor with tenure (which means, essentially, job security for life), there may be as many as a dozen letters required to evaluate the candidate's accomplishments in research, teaching, and service, with the exact number depending on the college or university and, sometimes, even the candidate's department. Usually a candidate provides a list of names and the academic leadership identifies others; not all names on the list may be invited. Normally, the candidate is not informed who has been invited to evaluate his/her case.

Most universities have explicit rules (arms length rules), that state that the letter writer should not be a collaborator, have the same dissertation advisor as the candidate, or have some other close professional association.  

For promotion from Associate Professor to Full Professor, I know that, in my very own case, 13 letters were received. Sometimes more invitations are sent out since some invitations to write are declined. It is an important task, time-consuming, and comes without any compensation. Although, I must admit, that, last year, for a "habilitation" case in France, for which the candidate had requested a letter from me and I had accepted to write one, I received a cake in the mail, which was delicious (and he did get his habilitation, which is actually like a higher elevation than a PhD and is valued in several countries). I also wrote a letter for him last month for his Full Professorship and his promotion was already approved.

The request for a letter of evaluation, once accepted, usually comes with a file of the candidate's cv (a resume in academia), the candidate's personal statement, and copies of several publications.

As a Chaired Full Professor,  I get my share of requests to do promotion evaluations and have done them for faculty candidates in Business Schools, Engineering Schools but also in Math or Math Science Departments. Although my primary appointment is in a business school, I hold courtesy appointments in two engineering departments at UMass Amherst and my PhD is in Applied Math, with a concentration in Operations Research.

What I find rather surprising lately, is that, in several cases, I was asked to provide a letter of evaluation in less than a month. In previous years, usually a 2 month time window would be standard.

The past few weeks, I have evaluated 4 Full Professor cases, 1 promotion and tenure case, and 1 promotion to Distinguished Professor case in England.

Once the evaluation letters are received, depending on the university, there are usually multiple levels of voting that take place by Personnel Committees at the department, school (such as business or engineering school, depending where the faculty member's home base is), by the Dean, and the university level, by the Provost, and upwards to the President and/or Board of Trustees. Faculty who are up for promotion and tenure are necessarily anxious because there have been cases where the case went positive through the Dean's level, only to be overturned at the Provost's level. Faculty may then appeal but not often are appeals successful. Essentially, if denied tenure, one may get a year's reprieve but then must find another job. In the case of a denial of a promotion to Full Professor, once can try again (and again, if need be). To achieve a Full Professorship within 10 years of receiving one's PhD is considered excellent.

It is very interesting to see that certain universities in requesting a letter of evaluation will spell out in detail what a candidate should be evaluated on; some even note citations on Google Scholar as being important and major awards and recognitions received, whereas other don't provide much guidance.

A few years ago I received a telephone call from a Department Chairman saying that a letter writer was hospitalized and could I take over, which, I did, since I knew the candidate and could write a solid letter.

I presently serve on the Personnel Committee of the Isenberg School of Management, and have also served on this committee in the past and it is interesting to see letters evaluating candidates in different areas of business and management, from my own area of Operations Management and Management Science, to Finance, Accounting, and Marketing, and even Organizational Behavior and Strategy, and Hospitality and Tourism Management as well as Sports Management. Of course, the representative from the candidate's department is the one that has to argue the case before us because of familiarity with the area.

And when you hear that a strong positive letter that you wrote had the desired outcome, congratulations are in order!

Luckily, I have done all of my external case evaluations for tis promotions season but, the "letter writing" does not end for a faculty member, since we also write letters of recommendation for our students who are seeking excellent jobs - our undergraduates and MBAs in industry and our PhD students, primarily, in academia. And then there are those letters of nomination for colleagues and students for various awards and recognitions!  I am glad that I had such fabulous English teachers both in elementary school and in high school and, I must admit, I do love to write!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Awe of A Beautiful Fall Day in Amherst

Last Sunday, you may have seen the cover article in Parade magazine, along with the Sunday newspaper, on Awe. I thought that it was a very pleasant read and agree that having feelings of awe and wonder certainly add to happiness.

As an academic I experience feelings of awe especially while traveling and exploring new places but also sometimes, as the article emphasizes, you can get the sense of wonder even from your own neighborhood. Of course, as an academic, I also experience awe when I figure out a tough research problem, get a paper accepted, have a book published, receive a special recognition, and see my students succeed.

I had returned last night around 11PM from Washington DC where I had served on a panel. I had the serendipity the day before of seeing Professor Larry Samuelson and his wife at Bradley airport in Hartford while waiting for my flight to Reagan National. Samuelson is an economist at Yale University and he and I were Visiting Fellows at All Souls College at Oxford University this past spring and part of the summer and we lived at Beechwood Circle and had offices in the same beautiful building. We had always said that we would probably meet at that airport. On my return last night I was seated next to a colleague from the Computer Science department at UMass, which was also quite cool. You can see a photo of Larry and me and other Visiting Fellows at All Souls College  on my blogpost here.

Having spent a lot of time in DC yesterday indoors on business and with today, being such a beautiful Fall day, a nice hike was in order and it did not disappoint.

One of the best aspects of living in Amherst is the beauty of the natural environment and I hike throughout the year in every season when I am here.

The photos below were taken today during a hike around Puffer's Pond, which is an Amherst natural wonder. Not only is the beauty of the season revealed through the landscape and colors of the foliage but I must also say that the smells were also delightful from the pine trees to some fall flowers.

Reinvigorated and refreshed it's now time to go back to working on a paper with collaborators on supply chain networks with freight transportation and sustainability.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Those Wonderful Thank You Notes from Students

It has been a very busy new Fall semester with exciting events, teaching my Transportation & Logistics class, and also finishing up 4 research papers that we have submitted on topics as varied as auction mechanisms for an affordable Internet, supply chain network capacity competition with outsourcing, consumer learning of product quality with time delays, and even short supply chains in the form of farmers' markets. Plus, I have been busy revising a paper on cybersecurity. Interestingly, all the above papers have been co-authored with my present or former doctoral students, including a present doctoral student whose committee I am on who is in Colombia,  and also faculty colleagues.

There is something very special about the Fall in New England, which marks the beginning of our academic calendar and I suspect that some former students, from undergraduates and even MBAs and doctoral students,  are reminiscing about their time at the Isenberg School and at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. At least it certainly feels like that to me given the wonderful messages I have been receiving from former students. Some have come through email whereas others have sent me actual hand-written Thank You cards, which I very much appreciate. I am a big fan of Thank You cards and below I have included a photo of some of them which I enjoyed reading through this afternoon while waiting for a co-author to get back to me. I have also received cards from doctoral students when I was a Visiting Professor in Sweden at the University of Gothenburg over a period of 4 years, which is very sweet.
It has been especially pleasant to receive messages from students that I taught 3 decades ago!

Below is a sample of the messages that warm my heart and make me smile. The first two were received since September.

Back in 1986 I was lucky enough to take one of your first classes, while I forget the name (logistics) and the number (I can find it in a box up in the attic) I will never forget how you changed my prospective on so many things.  It is amazing, other than you and Prof. Whitman (taxes), I do not remember another class or Professor like I remember you.  I know I have said it before, but thank you…for molding me for the world.  You are an amazing educator!

I was a student of yours way back in 1985 or so, and I am just sending this to give you a shout out for what you taught me.  For years I worked in operations and accounting of various small businesses, and now I am finally at a company that is doing some high-level academic research, Abt Associates in Cambridge.  Mostly I will still be handling the numbers behind the scene but working on a couple of projects that have real-world, life saving implications sure feels better than maximizing profit at a garage door company.
Thank you for teaching me about the problems with user-optimized systems, I have used that thought many times in my life to date.  And all of the rest too.

And the following messages came a few weeks ago. The second one below was from a student that Professor Ceren Soylu and I co-chaired his dissertation.

Dear Professor Nagurney,

I am very excited to report that I just received a letter from the Penn
State President, informing me that I have obtained my tenure and have been
promoted to the rank of associate professor.  I would like to take this
opportunity to thank you for your support and endless care all these
years, without which I could not have been where I am now. Thank you!!!

Dear Professors Nagurney and Soylu,

To to honest, I don't know how best to start this letter. Part of me wants to begin describing a destination, but another with a reflection on the path that led to it. Ultimately, I think I gravitate towards the latter.

Not too long ago, when I first started reflecting about topics for my thesis, I knew two things: that I wanted it to be at the intersection between game theory and operations research, and that I wanted the research to have the potential to do good. With your guidance, I was fortunate to find a topic that was not only interesting and that met my academic goals, but one that impassions me and that I strongly believe will give me the opportunity to fulfill my lifelong dream of helping those in need. And even beyond that, I feel very lucky to have found advisors who are as passionate, supportive, and engaged with their students as you.

About a month ago, I decided to apply for a scholarship in the CHC that recognizes 10 students the quality of their theses. I am very excited to let you know that, mostly due to your dedication and support, our work was selected among them. To be honest, I don't know what the best words are to thank you for your guidance, for your willingness to brainstorm with me, and for your commitment to help me overcome barriers as the arose. In a strange way, the more I try to think of the "best" adjectives to describe what I want to say, the more I feel that the phrases are trite. And so it may be best to leave it at a more simple, but heart-felt, "thank you for everything you have done for me along the way".

I've also been putting some thought into what to do with the award. I've come to the conclusion that, given the nature of the research, I want to donate the funds to a charity - and would love to include both of you in the process of selecting one.

Thank you again for all your support.

Finally, I end this blogpost with two handwritten messages in two of the Thank You cards in the photo above.

Professor Nagurney,

I just want to thank you for all the support you have given me this year. You are a passionate and inspirational teacher who cares deeply for your students. Personally you had a big impact on my experience at UMass. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know you.

Professor Nagurney,

You were instrumental in starting and sustaining the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter. Without you we would not have come together for this wonderful organization.

Thank You...and we would never be able to thank you enough.

We are highly appreciative and filled with gratitude for your guidance and support.

Being an educator at the university level is truly the best job in the world. No two days are ever alike and sometimes we actually make a difference! Now it is my turn to thank: Thank you to all my students - you challenge me, energize me, and together we address problems in the hope of making the world a better place.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

A Fabulous Conversation with Steve Wozniak - Co-Founder of Apple

Yesterday, after a three and a half hour journey (it was the Friday before the Columbus Day long weekend), from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, via the Mass Turnpike (a journey that should take no more than 2 hours), we arrived at The UMass Club in downtown Boston.

We were driven by a UMass student, Jenna, on a courtesy van provided by the Isenberg School to attend an event with Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple. The event was an inaugural lecture in a new series, part of the Isenberg School's #Driven campaign.

The van ride was long but what made it fun was being with colleagues such as my department chair, Iqbal Agha, the chair of the Finance department, Sanjay Nawalkha, and our new clinical professor, Charlie Johnson, who was hired for our entrepreneurship program, and has been a Boston lawyer for over 30 years. Also with us was our wonderful Isenberg School Communications Director, Lou Wigdor.

The faculty on the van had been invited to be table facilitators with the evening program consisting of a 60 minute conversation with Steve Wozniak, moderated by the fabulous Tom Ashbrook, the host of NPR's, On Point, followed by a dinner. Other faculty facilitators included the chair of the Marketing Department, the one and only Bruce Weinberg, and my colleague, Alan Robinson.

Attendance was great at this event, and several remarked to me that they heard of it on NPR a few days ago and decided to come. The view of Boston from The UMass Club, which is on the 32nd floor, was stunning. I saw several alums, including Vinnie Daboul!
Sitting with me at the table were several GE employees, an employee of Nuance Communications, of the Markley Group, and  Mendix, as well as an Operations and Information Management (OIM) undergraduate student who had volunteered to help out. We talked about our jobs, Wozniak, high tech, and had a great time.

It was fabulous to see the UMass President, Marty Meehan, there and I told him how one of my former students shared with me that, when he turned 21, and was then a student at UMass Lowell, President Meehan took him out to celebrate. The student will never forget this.

While nibbling on some canapes the conversation began and the energy of Wozniak was incredible. I had caught up with his travels by checking out his Twitter account and he had come in from London just the day before and the week before he had spoken in Canada. He lives in California.

He spoke on the founding of Apple, his childhood, during which he loved ham radios (my husband is a ham radio operator so I very much appreciated this) and also electronics. I am sure that many of you have read both the book on Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and Wozniak's book iWoz. But it was extra special to see him in person and also to meet with him afterwards with a group asking for autographs. He, like Jobs, was a prankster, and usually got away with his pranks, since he did not advertise them.  He loved soldering and constructing computers so as to minimize resources, typically, computer chips. He clearly has a mindset of an Operations Researcher! He recalled fondly his time with the Homebrew Computer Club and thought that he would spend his entire life as an engineer at HP and could design computers in the off hours. His design of the Apple I and Apple II computers revolutionized personal computers and the computer industry.
He emphasized that happiness is important and his integrity was vivid throughout his presentation/conversation.  He said that he builds computers since he was inspired by social causes. Steve Jobs was the one with the business mind and, together, originally they had to hustle for the computer parts that they needed. He did mention that the Lisa and Apple III computers were not successful but he was not involved in their designs.

Interestingly, although the general public believes he is no longer with Apple, Wozniak actually still gets a paycheck from Apple. Apple II provided the company with revenues for 10 years. He also spoke about gaming and the importance of color and how the fact that Visicalc could run on an Apple computer very much helped in sales. People wanted computer solutions. Steve Jobs wanted computers to get easier and easier to use. He was not technical, according to Wozniak.

He said that in order to lead you have to be willing to take risks. Ashbrook asked him about the future of technology and Wozniak emphasized that we had earlier the advantage of Moore's Law. As for Artificial Intelligence, the question is how can it improve the world? 

He was proud that he eventually received his college degree from UC Berkeley but since he was already very well-known at that time, it is "Rocky" Raccoon Clark that appears ob his diploma.

He still has the first Apple I computer that he ever made.

Wozniak noted that we should be partners with computers.

He told us it is about "food, fun, and friends," and that his equation for happiness is: smiles minus frowns. He also mentioned that his wife is from Kansas.

We had time but only for a few questions and I enjoyed his insights on autonomous vehicles. 

It was a fantastic evening and we made it back to the Isenberg School in less than 2 hours. Joining us on the van back was Susan Boyer. The conversations were fabulous and the evening is one we will long remember.

Many thanks to Steve Wozniak  and to Tom Ashbrook as well as to the Isenberg Dean, Dr. Mark Fuller, and to Assistant Dean Chris Pilsner for organizing and making possible this great inaugural lecture! Also thanks to Associate Dean Tom Moliterno for inviting me to be a table facilitator at this great inaugural lecture.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

INFORMS History and Traditions -- Why Operations Research Is Fascinating

I was honored to be appointed to the INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences) History and Traditions Committee and will be serving on this committee through 2018.

The committee is a wonderful group of Operations Research /Management Science scholars and includes also a historian of science, Dr. Will Thomas. We had hosted Will at the Isenberg School of Management back in 2005 in our UMass Amherst INFORMS Speaker Series, when he was a doctoral student at Harvard University. He is the author of a recent book,published by MIT Press. Also, on the committee is Dr. Irv Lustig, who was an undergraduate in Applied Math at Brown University when I was a PhD student there and I was his TA for a course taught by my dissertation advisor, Professor Stella Dafermos. Irv went on to get his PhD at Stanford University and his dissertation advisor was none other than a giant of Operations Research, Professor George Dantzig, whose research and mentorship and friendship helped to build the great community of INFORMS, as well as its predecessors, ORSA and TIMS.  Irv spoke in our Speaker Series in the Spring of 2006. That year I was a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard and still managed to help the students organize the Speaker Series and to come back on Fridays to support them. Dantzig passed away in May 2005 at age 90. There is a memorial site in his honor.

Dr. Mark Eisner of Cornell University has chaired this committee for the past three years and his energy and ideas as well as leadership is making a log of exciting things happen in preserving our history and also providing exceptional resource and educational materials about our field. Also, and this I find to be something quite special, Mark knew Stella when she was a postdoc at Cornell University, after receiving her PhD from Johns Hopkins in Operations Research, and before coming to Brown University.

Also on the committee are luminaries of Operations Research who are household names: Dr. Arjang Assad, Dr. Art Geoffrion, Dr. John D.C. Little, and Dr. Shaler Stidham Jr.

When I teach my classes I always include stories of individuals who have been instrumental in the development of the various topics and even include photos of the personages in my lecture slides. I think that it is very important that students know and can visualize who made the scientific discoveries, whether in terms of a methodology, an algorithm, or a very cool application. I have been lucky that through our professional societies that I have been able to meet many of the shining stars, starting when I was a graduate student. I think that meeting people whose work inspires you brings a humanity to the research and also motivates you. Plus, you can learn so much from such people in terms of professional development, if you just ask.

A wonderful contribution to the INFORMS History and Tradition webpages are the compilations of the oral histories. I have been enjoying viewing and learning from them immensely. Listening to the words of wisdom is making history of our field come alive and it also helps to preserve it. Right now all the interviews are with males so I am doing my best to get more female operations researchers featured. I know that several additional interviews are planned even for the INFORMS Conference in Nashville this coming November.

And speaking of leadership in Operations Research, I urge you to visit the Miser-Harris Presidential Portrait Gallery, where the Presidents of ORSA, TIMS, and, INFORMS are featured a long with links to their biographies. The gallery is named after Professors Hugh Miser and Carl Harris and Hugh was a Professor at UMass Amherst for several years but before I joined the faculty. All the Presidents of TIMS were male. There was only one female President of ORSA and that was Dr. Judith Liebman, who was a contemporary doctoral student of Stella  Dafermos' at Johns Hopkins. Several of my doctoral students have received the Judith Liebman Award from INFORMS for their activities with our award-winning UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter. I am delighted that there have been 7 female Presidents of INFORMS, which is fabulous. Dr. Robin Keller, the President before Dr. Ed Kaplan, has also been taking part in our committee teleconferences, as well as Melissa Moore, the Executive Director of  INFORMS and Mary Magrogan, INFORMS Director of Membership, Subdivisions & International Activities.

I urge you to visit the INFORMS History and Traditions pages. I find the personal memoirs also very informative and inspiring. More information on the committee and its activities can be found in the article written by Assad and Eisner. A guided tour of the website is provided in an article written by Mark that appeared in OR/MS Today.

The biographical profiles of those who have made significant contributions to our field and were born before the end of World War II are also very interesting to read. And, of course, the list of Nobel Laureates in Economic Sciences with OR affiliations and contributions is also very worthwhile to peruse and among those listed I note that dozens of my papers have cited the work of John Nash.

INFORMS will be redesigning its website and I hope that we can feature the information associated with the History and Traditions more directly and prominently. Also, INFORMS is looking for a part-time student website intern to assist in the enhancement of the web site devoted to the history of Operations Research. The intern would work from his or her home location via email at the direction of members of the History and Traditions Committee of INFORMS, the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences. If you may be interested or know of someone who may be, please let me or any of the committee members know. Thanks!

Actually, visiting the site and serving on this committee is sometimes like a walk down Memory Lane and I conclude this blogpost with a photo taken of me and Professor George Dantzig, way back when, at an ORSA conference in San Francisco.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Why is Business Research So Unbusinesslike?

I always look forward, as a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University alumna, class of '06, to my regular emails from Harvard University, including those that I receive from the Harvard Gazette.

This morning in the email from the Harvard Gazette headlines was the intriguing teaser: Why is Business Research So Unbusinesslike? When I clicked and read the article I knew that I would have to comment on it on this blog. The teaser was for the article: Why Isn't Business Research More Relevant to Business Practitioners?  from the Harvard Business School (HBS) and its main focus was on the paper by HBS Professor Michael Toffel, Enhancing the Practical Relevance of Research, which appears in the September 2016 issue of the journal Production and Operations Management.

Since I am in the Department of Operations and Information Management at the Isenberg School of Management, I am a member of the Production and Operations Management Society and subscribe to this journal. Interestingly, Professor Chris Tang of UCLA's Anderson School of Management had a similar article in the journal MSOM: entitled: Making OM Research More Relevant: Why?" and "How?" which I had blogged about.

Toffel, in his article, focuses on Operations Management as well as Organizational Behavior, two disciplines, which are not usually cast together. I find it quite interesting that the relevance issue keeps on coming up. I know from personal experience in terms of my research and that of many of my collaborators as well as my doctoral students that much of our work is driven by crucial problems that need solving in practice and, oftentimes, that need will also drive our theoretical and methodological work in operations research. I do see papers and quite, frankly, now decline reviewing such where a multitiered supply chain that is studied in a paper consists of a single manufacturer and a single retailer. I find that the drive towards managerial insights on problems that are simplistic and not real may be easy to solve but with the availability of both data and algorithms, why not tackle and handle problems that exist in reality? Our work on supply chains has ranged from pharmaceuticals to fast fashion, food, medical nuclear supply chains, and also to humanitarian relief supplies and blood supply chains.

Some highlights from Toffel's article I further discuss below.

I very much enjoyed seeing the quote from an article by Larry Wein, who is now at Stanford, but I met him when I was at MIT for 2 years as a Visiting Professor and Visiting Scholar. Larry is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. In writing on which research projects are likely to have a big impact in terms of policy he recommends the following and these are fabulous guidelines:

My rule of thumb for working on a problem was whether the answers to the following four questions were yes, no, no, and yes: Is the problem very important (i.e., could it directly or indirectly lead to catastrophic consequences?) Has the problem been sufficiently addressed in the academic literature? Has the problem been satisfactorily addressed by policy makers? Would the problem be fun (i.e., sufficiently challenging) to work on?

In terms of enhancing research relevance, Toffel suggests reading practitioner publications and the popular and industry presses, which I regularly do and urge my students to, as well. He also recommends creating on-campus encounters with practitioners to give guest lectures to students (and you can also meet with them). And he even notes the importance of student clubs! As for the former, every spring I teach a course on Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare in which I bring practitioners as guest lecturers. They provide educational experiences for students and also raise many research questions. In addition, I am in my 13th year of serving as the Faculty Advisor to the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter and we co-organize a speaker series and also have field trips, such as to ISO New England, which is responsible for electric power reliability for New England. I consider activities of the student chapter so important that I have used my Smith Chaired Professor funds since the chapter's inception to support the chapter's activities.

Toffel recommends attending crossover workshops with practitioners and also practitioners conferences. I can personally attest to how wonderful the INFORMS Annual Analytics conference is, for example, where practitioners and academics as well as students can interact intensely and benefit from longer than the typical conference presentations. As for workshops, we have even obtained grants to organize workshops. We have done one on cybersecurity held at the Sloan School at MIT two years ago, which I have blogged about. I also organized an amazing one at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center on Lake Como on Humanitarian Logistics: Networks for Africa.

Toffel also mentioned that it is important to convey relevant insights to practitioners and this can be done through blogs and social media. He highlights several blogs but not a single one from female bloggers. I single out Laura McLay's long-running excellent blog on operations research.
Of course, everyone in Operations Research is also well-aware of Mike Trick's blog. Mike is an Associate Dean at the Tepper School at Carnegie Mellon University and also the President of IFORS.

Toffel ends his article by suggesting how academic institutions need to change and that includes the training of our doctoral students. He also notes that making changes takes time and implementing his recommendations is time-consuming.  I know that my conscience is clear. And, besides, as Larry Wein says, doing these things is fun! Relevance is richly rewarding.