Saturday, July 17, 2010

News Highlights from the Isenberg School -- Business Schools and Research

The intellectual life of a university depends on the research of its faculty and the give and take with students through teaching and scholarship.

I teach and conduct research at the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, which values interdisciplinarity. The academic departments at Isenberg clearly reflect this from my own department, Finance and Operations Management, to Resource Economics, Sport Management, and Hospitality and Tourism Management, plus even the more, shall I say, "classical" departments of Management, Marketing, and Accounting and Information Systems.

My department, in the last two years, has recruited two new Assistant Professors, Dr. Ahmed Ghoniem and Dr. Senay Solak, from Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, respectively. Their work has already earned not only accolades but grants: Dr. Ghoniem has received funding from the Qatar National Research Fund to study how to minimize air traffic congestion whereas Dr. Solak has received funding from NSF to conduct research on housing foreclosures and nonprofit organizations.

Last year, we recruited the new Dean of the Isenberg School, Dr. Mark Fuller, whose appointment is also in my department (and, yes, I served on the search committees for all these hires, and chaired those of the two above).

Also, based on a proposal for a cluster hire that I, with colleagues in Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and even Communications, was involved in, we were able to recruit for a position in cyber security. Dr. Traci Hess and her husband, Dr. John Wells, both from Washington State University, will be joining my department this Fall as Associate Professors.

My colleagues conduct research on hedge funds, serve on FDA panels on food safety and risk, explore issues of privacy and marketing, to highlight only a few, very cool research topics.

My own research and passion is heavily focused on networks, especially on complex networks with applications as varied as supply chains, humanitarian logistics, financial networks, electric power generation, and transportation. My recent research has emphasized network design and fragility and vulnerability analysis with applications to critical needs and healthcare products from vaccines to medicines as well as sustainability.

Being in a business school, one can conduct research on the latest topics and this brings an energy and enthusiasm to the classroom which are palpable. Being trained in operations research and management science (my advisor at Brown University, Dr. Stella Dafermos, was the only female at that time in Engineering and Applied Math) one has the skill set to address many important problems.

Although campuses will be teaming with students, both new and experienced ones, come the Fall, during the summer, the faculty are getting prepared as they work on new breakthroughs, present their work at conferences around the globe, rework their course materials, and take the time to reflect.

Soon I will be giving keynote talks in Europe -- at the Computational Management Science in Vienna, Austria and at the Yalta Optimization Conference -- Network Science in Ukraine. As I tell my students, research can really take you places and introduce you to fascinating people!

Working at a university is a great privilege and responsibility and always filled with new challenges, opportunities, and, sometimes, even drama (I will write about the latter topic sometime in the future)!