Tuesday, October 13, 2009

INFORMS in San Diego

The INFORMS Annual Conference in San Diego has been fantastic! The venues of the Convention Center and the Hilton Hotel overlooking the Pacific Ocean and graced by palm trees and flowers are simply gorgeous. The conference has thousands in attendance and I have been enjoying immensely seeing colleagues from around the globe.

Today, we began with the breakfast FORA meeting at which the INFORMS student chapter awards and several other awards were given. It was a pleasure to give out the chapter awards, along with Professor John Fowler. I congratulate the student chapters who received their summa cum laude, magna cum laude, and cum laude awards today. The UMass Amherst student chapter and the Texas A&M chapters received the summa cum laude awards. I also would like to congratulate the winners of the Moving Spirit awards and the Judith Liebman awards! Dr. Patrick Qiang is my second former doctoral student to receive the Judith Liebman award.

After the awards breakfast I had the terrific experience of being interviewed by Barry List, the INFORMS Communication Director, for a podcast. We will let you know when it goes online.

I managed to also give a talk today and to attend a session before joining hundreds at one of the highpoints of the annual INFORMS meeting -- the WORMS (Women in Operations Research and the Management Sciences) luncheon. I am also very pleased and proud that both the College of Engineering and the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst donated substantial funds to support this luncheon.

At the luncheon, I had the distinct honor of giving the 2009 WORMS Award to Professor Alice Smith of Auburn University for her extensive contributions to increasing the visibility and success of females in operations research. She has chaired the department of industrial engineering at Auburn University for 10 years, has written over 150 publications, and has led two NSF grants in support of female researchers. I read several quotes from her letters of support and from her nominator. It was a very festive event!

Many lingered over the lunch and afterwards to network and to chat. At my table, I had so many of my former doctoral students, who are now professors: Dr. Dmytro Matsypura, who is at the University of Sydney in Australia, Dr. Jose Cruz, who is at UCONN, Dr. Tina Wakolbinger, who is at the University of Memphis, Dr. Zugang Liu, who is a professor at Pennsylvania State University at Hazleton, and Dr. Patrick Qiang, who is a professor at Penn State's Graduate School of Professional Studies in Malvern. It was like a reunion and it was so much fun to exchange experiences and our recollections. We were joined at our table by other Isenberg School PhDs with concentrations in Management Science: Professor Debbie O'Connor from Holy Cross and Professor Shenghan Xu from the University of Idaho. In addition, Dr. Christian Wernz, who received his PhD in Industrial Engineering from UMass Amherst and who is now a professor at Virginia Tech, helped to complete a most convivial group which also included Professor Laura McLay of Virginia Commonwealth University.

What really impressed me was the large number of both males and females as well as minorities that attended this luncheon which speaks volumes about the warmth that faculty, practitioners, and students feel in the WORMS community.

This evening there is a reception at Sea World!