Friday, May 17, 2019

A Big Thank You and Congratulations to the Montreal Operations Research Student Chapter

The invitation arrived on April 22, 2019 - towards the end of the Spring semester.

The event that I was invited to speak at was to take place on May 15, 2019, as part of the Optimization Days conference in Montreal, Canada. The conference was at HEC.
Although the date was just a few days past the UMass Amherst graduation ceremonies as well as the POMS conference in Washington DC, I accepted quickly, since it was to celebrate the 3rd anniversary of the Montreal Operations Research Student Chapter. I am a big proponent and supporter of INFORMS Student Chapters and have been the Faculty Advisor to the UMass Amherst one for 15 years (that translates to 30 semesters of activities, including hosting of speakers). The Montreal Chapter has over 270 members across multiple universities in the area. It was co-founded by a group of students, including  Hyame Alameddine and (now) Dr. Carlos Zetina, both from Concordia University. Dr. Zetina was the recipient of the INFORMS Judith B. Liebman Award.

The invitation, which came from Hyame Alameddine, the Chapter's Vice President, said, in part:

Dear Prof. Nagurney,

On behalf of the Montreal Operations Research Student Chapter (MORSC), we would like to invite you to Optimization Days <>  2019, Montreal on May 15, 2019, to deliver the keynote addressing a topic of your choice for our third-anniversary event which we will celebrate during Optimization Days. Given your pioneering work in operations research; we hope you can honor us with your presence and words as we present our chapter's achievements and list of upcoming events to our members, industry partners, well-known Montreal researchers and representatives of our umbrella institutions. Our organization would be happy to cover the costs associated with your travel and accommodation.

Established in May 2016, MORSC is a multi-university, multidisciplinary, graduate student association chartered under the Canadian Operations Research Society (CORS) and the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). Our mission is to create a collaborative community of Montreal graduate students working on Operations Research topics. Our emphasis is on knowledge sharing and networking among members from various disciplines. We organize tutorials, workshops and panel discussions for students to stay up to date on the field. We also organize student research seminars in collaboration with GERAD and CIRRELT for students to showcase their work and a speaker series for members to learn from highly respected experts in the field. We have created our website (>) that serves as a reference for upcoming events and as an online library of materials on Operations Research (>). In 2017, MORSC received the INFORMS 2017 Student Chapter Annual Award at the cum laude level  and in 2018, it received the INFORMS 2018 Student Chapter Annual Award at the Magna cum laude level.

I offered several topics that I could speak on and they selected the following:
My presentation can be downloaded here. Speaking to this group, which has achieved an immense amount during 3 years, was a great honor, and I wanted to congratulate them and to offer my support. Coincidentally, the first conference that I ever attended as a PhD student was in Montreal and it was with my Brown University PhD dissertation advisor, Dr. Stella Dafermos. And, amazingly, I got to stay in the very same hotel, The Terrasse Royale!

The attention to detail was extraordinary, with posters disseminated about my talk, a delicious cake prepared, and even a request for questions from me about my presentation, with prizes!

 My questions to the audience (I was delighted that even undergraduates came):

 1. What city was the venue of the first conference that Anna Nagurney attended as a PhD student?

2. Which of the following are NOT part of the math academic genealogy of Stella Dafermos and Anna Nagurney:

Maxwell, Galileo, Laporte, Newton?

3. The famous Braess paradox (1968) paper was written in what language?

4. Name TWO perishable products in healthcare.

5. What was the name of the best selling cholesterol reducing drug sold by Pfizer that lost its patent rights in 2011?

Bonus question:

What brand of European chocolates are sold at the nearby Royal Terrasse Hotel in Montreal?

After my presentation, I presented the Chapter with a birthday card and certificate and they presented me with a lovely plaque (so thoughtful and so appreciated).


Also, at the event, many students were recognized for their great writing and papers!
Above I am standing with the Chapter Officers as well as the Chapter's Faculty Advisor, Professor Daria Terekhov. Very cool that, among the officers, is a former classmate of my PhD student, Deniz Besik - Ba┼čak Tozlu.

The cake was as delicious as it was beautiful!
Many thanks also to the excellent photographers! The group photo is a very special memento. I remember fondly many selfies taken with the expert - Dr. Carlos Zetina at INFORMS conferences!
Also, it was a delightful surprise to see  Dr. Alelsandr Kazachkov there (the recipient of the 2018 ICS Best Student Paper Prize, whose committee I chaired), Professor Michel Gendreau, and a University of Maryland  Smith School colleague - Professor Raghavan. I also saw Professor Gilbert Laporte's photo on a nice screen - he was recently elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Sorry to have missed Professor Hani Mahmassani, who was a plenary speaker.

And, of course, I had to purchase Leonidas (Belgian) chocolates in the shop at my hotel to being back to Amherst!
Also, I had some lovely long walks in the area.

Congratulations to the MORSC Chapter Officers and members on all of your achievements and thank you for the outstanding hospitality - you set new standards! Wishing you all much continuing professional and personal success.