Saturday, February 22, 2020

Brilliant Lecture on Resilience by a Great Dane - Dr. Rasmus Dahlberg

Yesterday, we had the honor and pleasure of hosting Professor Rasmus Dahlberg of Denmark in our UMass Amherst INFORMS Speaker Series. His talk on "Resilience - the Danish Version" was brilliant. It is not often that one has the opportunity to hear from someone who is not only a disaster research scholar and a practitioner, with many fascinating experiences in a spectrum of emergency management exercises and events, including ones in the Arctic, but is also a novelist and media personality!
I had had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Dahlberg previously and met him when he presented a paper in the first Dynamics of Disasters conference that I co-organized in Kalamata, Greece. The paper that he delivered at this conference appears in the refereed conference proceedings.

Coincidentally, Dr. Dahberg delivered his talk yesterday in Isenberg's new Business Innovation Hub, which was designed by the award-winning Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. Last April, Ingels came and spoke at the unveiling of the hub and accompanying celebrations.

I gave some opening remarks and then Mojtaba Salarpour, the President of the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter, welcomed the speaker and the audience. It was great to have faculty and students from the Isenberg School, the UMass Amherst College of Engineering, and the College of Computer and Information Sciences in attendance, as well as faculty from other universities, and even several journalism students who were excited about covering the event!

Dr. Dahlberg is a faculty member at the Royal Danish Defence College and considers himself a "disaster historian." He has worked for the Danish Emergency Management Agency in the Department of Crisis Management.
He emphasized that there are no natural hazards in Denmark and that "all disasters are man-made." What is especially challenging now is that there are more risks from climate change and advanced technology. And many disasters have been the result of human error, due to complexities of advanced technology.  He also emphasized that Denmark is one of the most peaceful countries but is being faced with sea level rise, along with expansions of maritime routes, which can lead to more maritime accidents and disasters.
He noted that emergency management in Denmark has evolved from "civil protection" and that Denmark in the Anthropocene is seeing more and more extreme weather events with extreme rainfall.

He brought up numerous interesting points, including the need for  "zero responders," who are volunteers rising up to assist. He mentioned an incident of extreme rainfall and flooding in Denmark in 2013, for which multiple shelters were identified but very few citizens actually used them. The Danes, through social media, had informed the community that they had opened up their own residences to those needing shelter and, in effect, solved the disaster response effectively. People, for the first time, in Denmark, used one another and social media in this way. The peer to peer coordination and communication was very successful!

Dr. Dahlberg, on February 7, 2014, contributed to a Danish Emergency Management Association Workshop which he called "Resilience 101," in which he spoke about resilience as being the ability "to bounce forward" after a disturbance that disrupts normal operations. He noted the work of Dr. Tierney, who was also on his PhD dissertation committee, who defines "resilience as the obverse of risk" and the work of Dr. Alexander Augustine, who notes that "We need to build resilience to the uncertainties that lie ahead."

A more resilient Denmark is needed to tackle climate change. He also emphasized that "we cannot build our way out of everything" and mentioned the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities program.

Dahlberg believes that one must stress the system for resiliency.
He also emphasized that it is expensive to invest in emergency management and singled out the "Arctic Response Force." He singled out the possibility of a cruise ship disaster in Arctic waters. He has even written up disaster scenarios, which were then used in Denmark for disaster preparedness and response exercises!

After his presentation, there was a terrific Q&A; we took a group photo of those who were still in attendance, followed by a delicious lunch at the University Club at UMass Amherst, at which the stimulating conversations continued.

And, at lunch, he told us how to escape from a car sinking in the water and provided us with advice to always wear hiking boots while flying (helps in climbing out should you need to evacuate while taking off or landing).

We thank Dr. Rasmus Dahlberg for his brilliant lecture on resilience and wish him much continuing professional and personal success! His work and energy inspired all of us.
We ended the perfect intellectual and social day with dinner at Judie's in Amherst, complete with their iconic item - popovers!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Outstanding Inaugural INFORMS Security Conference in Beautiful Monterey, California

I arrived back in Amherst at 1AM this morning, having flown from Monterey, California to Denver, Colorado and then to my "local" airport - Bradley.

I had been in beautiful Monterey to take part in INFORMS' inaugural Conference on Security and it was outstanding.  The official dates of the conference were February 9-11, 2020.  Luckily, I am on sabbatical this semester, so this was manageable for me and I was very much looking forward to presenting at this conference. It was also quite nostalgic, since the first talk I ever gave at a conference was at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey (which was also heavily involved in this conference) at an MIT/ONR conference organized by Professor Michael Athans of MIT. I was then working in the defense sector, focusing on the navy, in Newport, Rhode Island, while pursuing my Master's at Brown University. I was the only female presenter at that conference.

First, I would like to congratulate the organizers of the INFORMS Security Conference: Mr. Harrison Schramm, Captain Brian Morgan, and Dr. Paul Nicholson, on its success! The format was excellent - 50 minute presentations (8 or so parallel sessions), with lunch and coffee provided, and ample time for discussion. Everyone was very gracious and friendly.  One "marker of the success" of this conference was the number of INFORMS Fellows in attendance, including: Gerry Brown, Stephen Robinson, Vicki Bier, Michael Fu, Sheldon Jacobson, and me :) If I missed someone, do let me know! Attendance was about 100 (I was told) and consisted of faculty, military, practitioners from various companies, government, and even some students that I met.

The plenary talks were great as well as a risk analysis panel conducted by Gerry Brown and Sam Savage. 

It was thrilling to even see Stefan Pickl, who traveled all the way from Germany for the conference. He had been a participant in the latest Dynamics of Disasters conference that I co-organized with Panos M. Pardalos and Ilias S. Kotsireas, and which took place last summer in Kalamata, Greece. We are now co-editing a new volume, to be published by Springer.
In the above photo I am standing with Stefan Pickl, Rob Dell, who gave one of the plenary talks, and Conference Chair Harrison Schramm.

I had the pleasure of presenting Monday morning on Game Theory Network Models for Disaster Relief. Special thanks to Nathaniel Bastian for being an outstanding stream chair of our stream: Interdisciplinary Applications - Frontiers. He had all of our presentations ready for projecting on his laptop.
Below are some photos from the delivered talks and of one of the great lunches! Many thanks for the wonderful presenters. Special to also hear from Jun Zhang and James Minas.

The venue was extraordinary - the hotel is located in downtown Monterey with hiking/biking trails in proximity and views of the Pacific.

And, at its best, a conference generates new research ideas, new collaborations, reconnecting with colleagues, and growing your network. The INFORMS Conference on Security delivered on all counts and at a location that would be hard to improve upon.  I was even presented with a book by Booz Allen Hamilton consultants. Interestingly, I had had an offer from this company when I was finishing up my PhD.
Below I have posted a few photos of the beauty of the natural environment of Monterey.
I am looking forward to the next INFORMS Conference on Security but, in the mean time, there is a lot of important research to be done by our community!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Beginning of My Sabbatical and My Twelfth Year of Blogging

It is hard to believe that this month I am celebrating 11 years of writing on this blog. My first post  was on the New Year - New Administration - New Blog. In that post I also noted a Letter to the Editor that I had had published in The New York Times on the students in my Transportation and Logistics class that I teach at the Isenberg School.  It is quite interesting to look back at the posts. Many provide timely advice. Interestingly, my third post was on my interview with Linda Baker on the Braess Paradox, for an article that she wrote for the Scientific American. And, coincidentally, my most recent article is on The Braess Paradox, an invited chapter for The International Encyclopedia of Transportation.

My blog has over 1,600 posts that I have written!

I am about to start my sabbatical, which means that I will not be teaching this Spring 2020 semester. I must admit that I will miss not teaching Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare and also my PhD Seminar but there are many projects to start and others to finish up and also numerous very exciting speaking engagements and visits. Some service activities to the Isenberg School (and beyond, of course), will still be on my plate.

I am very excited about the INFORMS Security Conference, which takes place next month in Monterey, California. The website is live and the speakers and talks look fabulous - I am especially delighted that all speakers get a 50 minute time slot, so one can really share insights and also gain some!

At this conference, I will be speaking on: Game Theory Network Models for Disaster Relief. Coincidentally, the first conference presentation that I ever gave was when I worked in the high tech sector for the Naval Underwater Systems Center in beautiful Newport, Rhode Island, and it was at an MIT/ONR Conference at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey! I was the only female presenter. In addition to working, I was also pursuing a Master's at Brown University at that time. It will be very special to be back there.

Some other highlights of my sabbatical, in terms of conferences and visits are the following:

In March, I will have the honor of giving a plenary talk at the Netgcoop Conference in Corsica, France, while my PhD student, Deniz Besik, presents on our work on tariffs, quotas, and trade at the INFORMS Optimization Society Conference in Greenville, South Carolina.

In April, I will have the pleasure of being an invited speaker at an International Workshop at the University of Brescia in Italy on Variational Analysis and Applications for Modelling of Energy Exchange. There I will see many wonderful Italian colleagues!

In May, it will be time to fly to Iowa, a state that I have never been to. Many thanks to Professor Ann Campbell for inviting me to give a plenary talk at a very exciting 2-day workshop - Future BA (Business Analytics) Prof! This workshop will take place at the Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa and all expenses for accepted applicants will be covered. The workshop is for advanced PhD students and post-docs —especially women and individuals from underrepresented groups — who are interested in academic careers in Business Analytics.

A huge highlight of my sabbatical will be the CORS Conference in Toronto in June. Also at this conference I will have the immense honor of delivering the Harold Larnder Prize plenary talk. The list of previous recipients of this prize can be found here. I am absolutely thrilled by this recognition and am the only the second female to receive this prize, which dates to 1986. The title of my Larnder lecture is: Trade Wars: OR in the Economic Battlefields.

I spoke at the CORS Conference in Halifax and had a tremendous time. Having been born in Canada, and having lived for a few years in Toronto, it will be great to be back. 
I will also be giving a seminar at the University of Toronto in March.

There will be other conferences in June and I will be busy also co-editing a new Dynamics of Disasters volume with Panos M. Pardalos and Ilias S. Kotsireas. We have received a contract from Springer and work has already begin with refereeing some of  the contributions, etc.

And, in late August, as my sabbatical is coming to a close, it will be time for the CLAIO 2020 Conference in Madrid, Spain. In 2019, I had the pleasure of speaking in Chile,  Colombia, and Mexico, and am so honored to have been selected the IFORS Distinguished Lecturer (IDL) at CLAIO. I will give my IDL plenary at this conference with the title: NetwORks: Changing Our WORld for the Better. This will be my first visit to Spain.

Of course, as my schedule and time permit, I will still be supporting the great UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter and its Speaker Series and also directing the Virtual Center for Supernetworks and working with my PhD students! Updates on my sabbatical will certainly be posted on this blog.

Many thanks to everyone for 11 great years of support of this blog!