Wednesday, April 13, 2016

On Giving Plenary Talks - Off to Canada for Analytics Day!

Conferences are essential to scientific exchanges and also to networking. Plus, one gets to reconnect face-to-face with colleagues from around the globe and to make new contacts and even friends. Travel to new locations is always interesting and revisiting even places where you have been before can be quite informative and pleasant.

In most conferences there are usually special talks given by plenary (or keynote) speakers. Such speakers typically will have a longer time slot in which to present their work and the speakers are selected by conference organizers to draw interest to their events. I enjoy listening to plenary speakers and also enjoy being one.

Whenever I get a notice for a conference, I usually check whether there will be a female plenary speaker. Some may not notice such things, but I do, and it is important to have diversity represented even at the highest levels.

Tomorrow I will be flying to Toronto, Canada, since on Friday, April 15, I will be giving a plenary talk at Analytics Day at the University of Waterloo. This university is renowned for research in optimization and, coincidentally, I gave an invited seminar there in Management Sciences almost exactly 5 years ago!

Analytics Day was organized by Professor Fatma Gzara and it will bring together academics and practitioners as well as students. The program is online.
I presented Professor Gzara with several topics and she selected: Predictive and Prescriptive Models of  Cybercrime and Cybersecurity Investments Under Network Vulnerability.  Cybersecurity is a very hot topic and I have given recent talks on this theme at the MITRE Corporation and also at the Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University.

It will be exciting to be back in Canada, the country of my birth.

I have given plenary talks in some fabulous locations and thank the organizers of various conferences for these great opportunities. Last summer, for example, I traveled to Colombia, to speak at a conference in Bogota and had such a magical time that I had to blog about it.

One year ago, I was in Berlin, Germany, to address the largest physics conference in Europe.  Clearly, research on networks, which has always been my passion, has no disciplinary boundaries. It's also terrific to see operations researchers welcomed by different disciplines and, in a sense, at the highest levels.

I also very much enjoyed giving a plenary talk in Rome, Italy,  and even in Auckland, New Zealand. I posted some photos from the New Zealand experience here. I wrote a blogpost about my experiences in Rome which can be accessed here.   I remember fondly getting lost while taking a long walk in Rome and seeing quite a few nuns (I suspect it may have been the delicious but very spiked dessert I had consumed) and glorious architecture and sites. I also remember (not so fondly) almost getting run over by the vehicles (almost saw my life pass by) while trying to cross the streets.

I thoroughly loved speaking in Paris at the NetGCoop conference in 2011 in October. Professor Asu Ozdaglar of MIT was another female plenary speaker at this conference focusing on networks, which was extra special.

I do believe that female researchers should accept invitations to deliver plenary talks at conferences since it is important for  students (male and female)  and others to see the great opportunities that the academic life provides. 

And seeing is believing.