Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A "Typical" Day

As an academic knows, but much of the public does not realize, despite a regular teaching schedule, no two days for a professor are ever alike. This aspect of being an academic makes one's professional life challenging, always interesting, but also not for everyone. There is no such thing as a "typical" or "routine" day.

For example, yesterday, which was a Monday, turned out as follows. In the morning, I discussed, with a producer in New York City, a program that I will be involved in at the 2009 World Science Festival, which will be taking place in mid-June. Last year's festival was the first and it was a huge success. It took place in late spring in NYC and this year's festival will also be in NYC. The festival was modeled after one in Genoa, Italy, and attracted 100,000 participants last year!

Office hours followed with students dropping in as much to chat as to discuss work. Then it was time to teach. I am teaching a doctoral course, Management Science II, and the class lasted for two and a half hours. I love teaching the material and the session felt like ten minutes long to me. Then it was time for a scheduled phone conversation with an executive of a multinational firm, who is an Isenberg School of Management alum. Topics under discussion concerned possible internships for our students, and possible projects in supply chain optimization. Coincidentally, one of the topics of my preceding lecture had been trade-offs between different modes of transportation and the effects on product prices. It is always gratifying that we can be both rigorous and relevant while teaching in the Isenberg School of Management!

After the conversation, more students came pouring in, and it is always those spontaneous conversations that are the most fun. A student on crutches wandered in and we ended up talking, after discussing employment prospects in operations management, and in transportation and logistics, about soccer and the World Cup. He had actually been a professional soccer player in Portugal (and he was now on crutches because of soccer).

Teaching was done for the day and the homeworks graded so it was time to complete the service duties. I have the honor of serving as the Chair of the 2009 WORMS (Women in Operations Research and the Management Sciences) Award of INFORMS. In the capacity as Chair, I get to select the members of the committee. Yesterday, all the committee members were confirmed and we have a terrific committee in place! They include faculty at business schools and engineering schools as well as a parctitioner. The award will be announced at the INFORMS National Meeting in San Diego next October and the closing date for nominations is July 1, 2009.

As for research, there was good news on this front, too. Two of our papers, which we revised recently, have now been officially accepted for publication. One is on electric power supply chains with application to New England. The other paper is on the horizontal integration of multiproduct supply chains and associated synergies. These papers were co-authored with associates and students that I work with through the Virtual Center for Supernetworks at the Isenberg School at UMass Amherst. The former paper will be published in the journal, Naval Research Logistics, and the latter paper, in the International Transactions in Operational Research.