Thursday, April 2, 2009

Cornell University,Regional Science, and the Flights Back

I would like to thank Dr. Kieran Donaghy, the Chair of the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University, for being such a wonderful host during my visit to Cornell. I was really thrilled to have Professor Walter Isard, who will be 90 years old in a few days, and who is the founder of the field of Regional Science, attend my talk yesterday. Plus, Professor Sid Saltzman also came to my talk. Professor Saltzman is in his late 80s, and is the father of Matt Saltzman, who is well-known in the Operations Research community and is a Professor at Clemson University. Having Professor Tim Mount of Agricultural Economics in the audience also brought such wonderful memories of collaborations with Cornell folks on spatial price equilibrium problems, ad valorem taxes, and applications to the dairy industry.

We had dinner last night in Ithaca and Dr. June Dong and Professor Mark Turnquist joined Professor Kieran and me at "Willow," a restaurant that alone is worth the travel to Ithaca, New York! Nothing like a great conversation about transportation, regional science, and the state-of-our universities over a delicious meal! The stories that we shared were terrific and, of course, we had to mention my dissertation advisor at Brown University, Dr. Stella Dafermos, who died almost exactly 19 years ago. Her first academic appointment after receiving her PhD was at Cornell. Dr. Mark Eisner, who also attended my talk, came up to me afterwards and told me how he, George Nemhauser, and Stella had worked together when she was at Cornell.

What would a speaking engagement be without another travel/transportation adventure?! Today I woke up at 5:30AM (I do recommend the Statler hotel at Cornell -- great service and it is quiet) and caught the 6:00AM shuttle to the tiny Ithaca airport only to find out that the second leg of my USAIR flight from Philly to Bradley was cancelled. I was rebooked on a flight 2 hours later. Security at the Ithaca Airport took about 1 hour to process 10 people but the pain was mild since I saw Professor Linda Nozick of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cornell (a colleague of Turnquist's) ahead of me in line. We talked through the 1 hour delay in Ithaca and got front row seats on the flight to Philly. Another case of having an ideal "seatmate" to fly with. Our discussions ranged from infrastructure management and systems engineering, to teaching, to research, to having kids! Nozick was flying to DC to give a presentation at the Department of Energy and I was trying to make it back to UMass Amherst for an exit interview with a Dean's candidate (I did not make it).