Friday, September 14, 2018

An Outstanding Early Career Researcher Workshop in OR in England

When the invitation arrived from Distinguished University Professor Kevin Glazebrook of the School of Management at Lancaster University in England I was delighted and quickly accepted. I was asked to present a plenary talk at the inaugural Early Career Researcher (ECR) Workshop at his university, September 8-9, 2018. This workshop, which was sponsored by The OR Society, was organized for advanced doctoral students, postdocs, and junior faculty, and was to take place immediately before the diamond anniversary OR60 Conference (at which I was to give the opening plenary talk and had graciously been invited by Graham Rand, also of Lancaster University).

There was some juggling, since the new academic year began on September 4 at UMass Amherst and, hence, I would have to make sure that the class that I would miss teaching would be covered (and it was, thanks to two of my doctoral students).

This was going to be my third trip to Lancaster University. I had spoken there when I was a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College at Oxford University in 2016 and I also taught a Master Class there on Network Equilibrium in March 2018, during spring break at UMass Amherst.

Luckily, although my trip was whirlwind, with me leaving on September 7 and returning on September 12, since Aer Lingus now has a flight from our local airport, Bradley, to Dublin, it was quite manageable. I flew to Dublin, then onwards to Manchester, and was picked up on the last leg (and driven via taxi) to Lancaster. While in Lancaster, I always stay at the Lancaster House, which is one of my favorite hotels, and I even have a favorite room there! Lugging my suitcase up the stairs in the rain to the regional plane in Dublin and then down in the rain in Manchester was not quite pleasant, but a small price to pay for a fabulous time professionally and personally. Below is a photo of the entrance to Lancaster House.

The workshop was held in the hotel, which made everything very convenient.

Professor Kevin Glazebrook gave the opening plenary and set the stage for the workshop. I was thrilled to see that there were workshop participants from throughout Great Britain and even from as far as Thailand, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia!
Special thanks to Charlene Timewell of The OR Society for handling the logistics of my stay and for such a warm welcome (it was chilly weatherwise my entire time in Lancaster but a break from the heatwaves in Massachusetts).
The workshop included 5 minute presentations by each early career researcher and it was a pleasure to listen to their research and near term plans.

My plenary was entitled: Network Journeys: For the Love of Operational Research.

In the US,  OR stands for Operations Research and, in Britain, for Operational Research, but we are part of the same professional discipline and community. I was asked by Professor Glazebrook to include autobiographical material in my plenary talk so I did and my presentation is now posted. It contains a lot of useful advice that I have accumulated and acquired over the years. I thoroughly enjoyed preparing this plenary and also in giving it.

The first evening we had a delicious workshop banquet and chatted and exchanged experiences with a lot of laughter. The menu was fabulous.

Also assisting and taking part in the workshop, in addition to the early career researchers, were: Professors Christine Currie, Paul Harper, and Arne Strauss, with Professor Edmund Burke giving an extremely useful presentation on: "How to Write a Great Proposal." Also offering advice were: Dr. Alain Zemkoho and Dr. Stephen Maher. The early career researchers had a homework assignment before the workshop to evaluate a series of actual proposals and to rank them (with thanks to the senior researchers who shared the proposals for such an educational purpose). There was also an excellent presentation by a representative from Taylor & Francis on "How to get Published."

The full workshop program is provided below.

The atmosphere was very congenial with an easy exchange of ideas and experiences and very worthwhile for all in attendance! The workshop, if I may, was also a lot of fun.

Special thanks to the energetic and inspiring early career researchers - the future of our profession is in wonderful hands! It was very special to meet you and I wish you the fulfillment of all of your dreams.