Saturday, December 9, 2017

We Celebrated a Great Semester for the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter with a Fabulous Party!

In academic circles this is a very busy time of the year with the end of the Fall semester upon us, final exams ahead of us, and with both faculty and students finishing up numerous projects and classwork. 

At the same time, one needs to celebrate accomplishments of the wonderful community that is the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter! I have had the privilege and fun of being its Faculty Advisor since 2004, which means that I have seen many of our Operations Research and Management Science students graduate with their PhDs and some are even Full Professors now (Dr. Tina Wakolbinger, for example, who was my PhD student and helped to found the chapter in 2004).

This semester, the student chapter hosted spectacular speakers: Dr. Shannon Roberts, Dr. Renata Konrad, and Dr. Dmytro Matsypura, and  began an exciting initiative of establishing a UMass INFORMS youtube channel, which now has two videos of interviews with the latter two speakers. The interviews, thus far, have been conducted by this year's Chapter President, Deniz Besik, and last year's President, Pritha Dutta, with technological assistance in videotaping and video production provided by Rodrigo Mercado and Mojtaba Salarpour. Another highlight this semester was having the chapter recognized with a Magna Cum Laude Award from INFORMS at the Annual Conference in Houston, Texas, October 22-25, 2017!

Yesterday, our wonderful end of the semester party took place at the Isenberg School. The terrific Chapter Officers, led by Deniz Besik, prepared the lovely poster below announcing the party.
In my "spare" time (while chairing a faculty search committee, finishing up two papers and working on another one, plus getting ready for a dissertation proposal defense, in addition to teaching and various other service commitments and writing letters for 5 job candidates), I was getting ready for the party.

I managed to bake some goodies:
and my husband, after spending most of the day at his Engineering School's student design project presentations,  helped to arrange and heat up the pierogies/varenyky and the sausage, which are always very popular. He also helped me to carry the food to the Isenberg School from our car:
The students had extended personal invitations to many faculty and the turnout was fabulous. Since the students are operations researchers, they are also excellent when it comes to the logistics of  procuring various dishes and refreshments for the party and even had a special cake!
Faculty and students  came from my Operations and Information Management Department, including the Department Chair, Dr. Agha Iqbal Ali,  and my colleagues: Dr. Ahmed Ghoniem and Dr. Senay Solak, as well as from the College of Engineering from the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, including Dr. Ana Muriel, Dr. Erin Baker, and Dr. Hari Balasubramanian,  and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and from Computer Science! It was very special to also see Dr. Peter Haas, one of our newest faculty members, who spent decades at IBM, is an INFORMS Fellow, and is now at UMass Amherst!  Given that both Computer Science and the College of Engineering are on the opposite side of the UMass Amherst campus from the Isenberg School, and that it was quite cold yesterday, the great attendance speaks to the special community that the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter is part of and has also helped to build. The students at the party are from the US, Mexico, Turkey, China, Greece, Scotland, Iran, Pakistan,  India, Sierra Leone,  and Iran - a true United Nations.
The camaraderie was fabulous as were the appetites.

A big thank you to the amazing UMass Amherst INFORMS Student  Chapter Officers for such a warm and fun event! Below is one of my favorite selfies ever, thanks to Destenie Nock!
Best of luck to everyone on a great end of the Fall semester and early wishes for a Fantastic New Year!