Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Suitcase Packing Optimization - 3 Weeks in Europe in 5 Countries and 1 Carry On Suitcase

I recently returned from 3 weeks in Europe and managed with just 1 carry on suitcase, despite beginning the trip with a conference in hot Halkidiki, Greece and ending the travel with a conference in cool and rainy Copenhagen.

After United lost my suitcase (never found) after a 2 week business trip to Japan, I will (almost) never check in a suitcase. Below is a photo of my carry on.

I heard from several conferees at the EURO Conference in Copenhagen that their luggage had not arrived, including the suitcase of a child of a conferee.

The 3 weeks in Europe entailed, besides the two conferences that I had blogged about and included photos of; see  https://annanagurney.blogspot.com/2024/06/the-outstanding-pardalos-70-conference.html for info on the Halkidiki conference in honor of Panos M. Pardalos and here: https://annanagurney.blogspot.com/2024/07/complex-societal-problems-and.html for highlights of the EURO conference in Copenhagen.

In the 3 weeks of travel, not only were there multiple flights (and in southern Europe one usually gets bussed to the plane and then has to march up a flight of stairs to board the plane and then back down again after landing), but also multiple train trips plus some travel on busses.

Along with my spouse, who was marvelous at helping me to haul my carry on up and down flights of stairs, we traveled from Halkidiki to Thessaloniki, onwards to Vienna, where I met with my former PhD student Tina Wakolbinger (whom I also saw in Copenhagen), and then off to Brno in Czechia, where we visited the university where my father had studied electrical engineering.  Also, in Brno, I had a virtual Co-Chairs Board of Directors of the Kyiv School of Economics meeting. It was interesting to hold it in a hotel room, but everything worked out splendidly and it was exciting to reconnect and also meet with KSE President Tymofii Mylovanov and on European time! Then we were off to Prague (it was our first time in Czechia) and, subsequently, we flew to Gothenburg, Sweden where I visited the University of Gothenburg, where I had a multiyear appointment. We took the train from there through Malmo to Copenhagen, a lovely trip, during which I wrote an invited essay.

OK, so what did I pack - this took a lot of thought but optimization is in my DNA and I used each and every item. I packed a navy pant suit, a navy skirt suit, a warmer navy sweater, 3 poplin long-sleeved shirts (white, black, and blue), two polo shirts (I wore one on the plane, along with khaki pants and a navy sporty blazer with an emblem), two long sleeved elegant dresses, and 3 short sleeved ones, two pairs of Bermuda shorts, 1 colorful sweater vest, 2 colorful skirts, socks, stockings, 3 pairs of shoes (1 dressy plus the ones I wore on the flight over) and the usual undergarments and pjs.

Below are a few photos as proof that what I packed was put to good use!







It was great that both in Halkidiki and in Gothenburg we could avail ourselves of a laundry service!

My Panama hat that I had bought in Greece several years ago wore out, but I managed to replace it with a similar one in Vienna.

I also had my made in Ukraine blue and yellow scarf and purchased another scarf in Gothenburg. These were quite useful in chilly Copenhagen.

Thanks to all who made our conferencing and travel in Europe such a pleasure both professionally as well as culturally and socially.

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Complex Societal Problems and the Serendipity of Conferences

This week I am taking part in the EURO 2024 Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, and, yesterday, I chaired the invited session: Complex Societal Problems, and also delivered a presentation on our latest research with my Isenberg School PhD student Dana Hassani and two Kyiv School of Economics colleagues: Oleg Nivievskyi and Pavlo Martyshev.

The session was excellent and papers were presented on refugee resettlement, impacts of climate change of refugee flows, healthcare entrepreneurship in rural areas of Kenya, and our work on international trade network performance under various disruptions with examples drawn from Russia's war on Ukraine.

Full information on our session can be found here.

The audience was terrific, asking many questions, and this also demonstrates the interest in the topics and the research that was presented. I am grateful to Tina Wakolbinger, a member of the conference program committee (and a former PhD student of mine) for the invitation to chair this invited session, which was part of the Humanitarian Operations track. I am very thankful to all the speakers. It was exciting to see Kash Barker, whose work with Andres Gonzales and Buket Ci, was presented by Andres.

This conference is taking place at the Danish Technical University (DTU). For many of us, who are staying in hotels in central Copenhagen,  getting there requires a commute via train and bus. The DTU campus is big and sessions are spread out across multiple buildings, which can require a trek. Lunches, coffee breaks, and snacks are provided, and there are nice exhibits. I especially enjoyed the Springer exhibit where my latest book is on display!

It is the serendipity associated with conferences that I especially love and seeing various conferees from around the globe while one is in transit, or having coffee, etc. It was such a delight to meet, on the first full day of the conference my former Isenberg School PhD students: Tina Wakolbinger, Sara Saberi, and Deniz Besik, all of whom are successful professors and Pritha Dutta arrived yesterday and came to our session. I have had the opportunity to enjoy the EJOR (European Journal of Operational Research) Editorial Board meeting, led by Roman Slowinski, with lunch provided, and to attend various sessions, including on food supply chains. Deniz Besik presented some of our latest work on  the impacts of supply chain disruptions on food quality. Semih Boz, one of our Isenberg School PhD students,  also met with us, which was great and presented a paper.

It has been lovely to encounter Anand Subramanian, Christina Phillips, Grazia Speranza, who I heartily congratulated on her receipt of the EURO Gold Medal (only the second female so honored), as well as many of the Associate Editors at the EJOR meeting, including Paolo Toth and Immanuel Bomze.

Also, what a small world. My three weeks in Europe began with the Pardalos conference in Halkidiki, Greece, and there I met two Ukrainians from Kharkiv, Tetyana and Petro, who are also at the EURO conference, which is very special. 

And we have made new friends from Athens, who are at this conference, and have been enjoying breakfasts with them.

I could not capture photographs with all the wonderful conferees - lots of discussions and chatting and hugs taking place. Super to see collaborators from Italy (but not all) including Laura Scrimali and Gabriella Colajanni plus even Annamaria Barbagallo. Coincidentally, the next conference that I will be speaking at will be the VINEPA conference in Catania, Italy in mid July. I even saw the immediate past President of INFORMS Laura Albert, but only for a brief time. I hope to meet many other conferees today.

And for my post on tips for networking, based on the panel I was on this past Sunday, click here. This panel was part of the WISDOM organized events and kicked off the conference for me in a marvelous warm way (unlike the weather).

Monday, July 1, 2024

Some Tips on Networking - Terrific EURO WISDOM Panel in Copenhagen

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking on a Networking panel at the start of the EURO 2024 Conference in Copenhagen. The panel was organized by Paula Carroll and Annunziata Esposito Amideo. Joining me on the panel was life coach Margaret Collins. The panel attracted an excellent audience, very enthusiastic and energetic.

The WISDOM Forum aims "to provide a platform to support, empower and encourage the participation of all genders in Operational Research within EURO." It is very active in organizing events, engaging in social media and has various terrific initiatives; more info on its website. Other related such forums include the WORMS forum of the professional society of INFORMS.

What we emphasized on the panel included the following:

1. The importance of networking.

2. Strategies for developing networks of visibility.

3. Communication skills to deliver your message.

4. How to deal with nerves or anxiety.

As an academic, who also has worked in high tech consulting in the defense sector, I noted the importance of being engaged with practice and the serendipity of meeting people and expanding your network, whether at conferences (a fabulous venue for networking) or even during travel, such as on planes. I spoke about reaching out to researchers that I admired, early on, in order to gather their wisdom and professional advice. I shared that George Dantzig, one of the founders of the field of OR, came to the first conference presentation that I ever gave, which was at the Mathematical Programming Symposium at MIT, and the kind words that he shared. I also acknowledged my PhD dissertation advisor, the late Stella Dafermos, in my presentation. I was her first PhD student. I showed the audience my academic genealogy, which includes Maxwell, Newton, and Galileo!

On our panel, the importance of social media was emphasized, which can create opportunities and invitations, and in keeping your profile up to date. In addition. Margaret, through her nicely interactive presentation, told the audience to have prepared a short introduction of yourself (perhaps several). One should also think about whom you might network with. Different people have distinct comfort zones, and it is important to acknowledge that some may be introverts or extroverts, or somewhere in between.

I focused on networking as your career progresses.


My presentation can be downloaded here. Early in one's career, one networks laterally and up, and it is important as one's career progresses to mentor and support others. Taking risks is also important since new experiences can help one to grow both personally and professionally. I also spoke about networking with journalists and decision-makers in order to have one's research make a greater impact. I emphasized the relevance of writing Letters to the Editor and OpEds to broaden one's reach.

Ultimately, networking is about people, and professional societies are playing a big role in bringing us together, through conferences, newsletters, opportunities for leadership, and various means of support and enhanced visibility.

Many thanks to the organizers of the EURO 2024 conference for the lovely city location venue of Copenhagen. More info on the conference here.


Also, early in my presentation, I congratulated both Paula and Annunziata on the publication of their discussion paper (the inaugural one): "Gender equality: opportunities and challenges for the OR community,"  in the Journal of the Operational Research Society. Their paper is now trending, along with the set of invited commentaries, which I contributed one to. These publications are open access and are very informative and relevant.   Relationships matter and networks do as well.


Friday, June 28, 2024

The Great UMass Amherst - Kyiv School of Economics Partnership Continues with the Second Cohort of Virtual Scholars in Ukraine

Russia's war on Ukraine has caused immense damage to education, including higher education, with the destruction of universities, and disruption to scholarship and learning. UMass Amherst stepped up, in the month after the full-scale invasion of February 24, 2022, through the establishment of memoranda of understanding with the Kyiv School of Economics in Ukraine. I have been affiliated with this university for over half a decade, and have served both on its International Academic Board and its Board of Directors. In March 2022, I was elected a Co-Chair of its Board of Directors.


As part of this global partnership, 15 Virtual Scholars, all based in Ukraine were partnered with faculty hosts at UMass Amherst. 9 of these were with faculty at the Isenberg School of Management. I had the great pleasure of working with Elena Besedina and Pavlo Martyshev of the Kyiv School of Economics and with Myroslava Kushnir of the Ukrainian Catholic University.

And, I am delighted that the second cohort of Virtual Scholars, numbering 10, has now been selected. The process was very competitive and I wish that we could fund more. All of these faculty, which hail from 5 different universities in Ukraine, have been matched with faculty at the Isenberg School of Management. More information on the call for applications can be found on the Kyiv School of Economics website.

The 10 selected scholars are faculty at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, the Ukrainian Catholic University, the Kyiv School of Economics, Polissia National University, and the Odesa Law Academy. Their faculty hosts are in the Operations and Information Management Department (yours truly), the Finance Department (Wenting Ma), the Isenberg Management Department (Ina Ganguli, Giuseppe (Joe) Labianca, Bogdan Prokopovych πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦, and Orlando Richard), and the Accounting Department (Orhan Akisik). The projects are fascinating and include such themes as: human resource management in Ukrainian companies during wartime, Ukrainian scientist research productivity, mobility, and collaborations in wartime, agricultural trade flows between Ukraine and Africa, post-war reconstruction of Ukrainian agriculture and entrepreneurship, and civilian-military defense supply chains. Deepest gratitude to KSE Rector Tymofii Brik, the University of Massachusetts Amherst Provost's Office, the UMass Amherst International Programs Office and Vice Provost for Global Affairs Kalpen Trivedi and Manager of Global Partnerships Eric Wirth, and Dean Anne P. Massey for the great support of this important initiative and partnership. Highlights of some of our activities can be found here with more planned for the next academic year, including another symposium.

I am thrilled that we have even published several articles and that one of my PhD students, Dana Hassani, has been collaborating with Oleg Nivievskyi and Pavlo Martyshev of KSE. Some of our papers and others that may be of interest can be found on the Supernetwork Center site.

This partnership is truly special - it helps in reducing brain drain from Ukraine and provides not only financial support but mentorship. It also is resulting in meaningful research and its dissemination plus friendships.

I am so proud of UMass Amherst and the Kyiv School of Economics for leading the way during these very challenging times.


Tuesday, June 25, 2024

The Outstanding Pardalos 70 Conference in Greece

It has been only a few days since the outstanding Pardalos 70 conference in Halkidiki, Greece and the aura continues.

Conferees gathered from 5 continents to celebrate Professor Panos M. Pardalos on his 70th birthday. The talks were excellent (clearly, everyone worked very hard to present their best work) with many including photos and comments on what Pardalos has meant to them as scholars and as a mentor and even a friend.

Panos has supervised the dissertations of over 60 PhD students and has received numerous well-deserved honors and recognitions, including election as INFORMS Fellow and the EURO Gold Medal plus the Constantin Caratheodory Prize. His impact on global optimization, operations research, and numerous applications is profound. The organizers of this conference: Sergiy Butenko, Athanasios (Sakis) Migdalas, and Oleg Prokopyev did an incredible job in site selection, banquet and activity organization, and overall theme selection plus logistics. 

Thanks also to the Program Committee: Vladimir Boginskii, Altannar Chinchuluun, Dalila Martins Fontes, Faruque Hasan, Pavlo Krokhmal, Foad Mahdavi Pajouh, Dmytro Matsypura, Leonidas Pitsoulis, Themistocles Rassias, Mauricio G. C. Resende, and Petros Xanthopoulos for putting together such a fascinating set of single track sessions on the conference theme of "Optimization, Analytics, and Decisions in the Big Data Era." I very much enjoyed also serving on the Program Committee.  The presentations were on topics ranging from sports analytics (quite relevant with the EURO Cup now) to machine learning, complex networks, various aspects of game theory, energy and supply chain applications, and so much more! It was heartwarming to hear in many of the talks how the presenters met Professor Panos Pardalos and his impact on their lives. 

A theme that permeated the conference is that of wonderful friendships, great collaborations, and experiences. Special thanks to Mauricio G. C. Resende for kicking off the conference with his talk on his 30+ years of collaboration with Professor Pardalos. I have been proud to collaborate with Panos for over three decades and we have a new edited Dynamics of Disasters volume going to press shortly with Co-Editors also Ilias Kotsireas, Stefan Pickl, and Chrysafis Vogiatzis. Warm acknowledgments to Professor Stefan Pickl for the presentation of lovely gifts to Panos at the banquet. A very moving part of this conference was seeing a proclamation from the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences in honor of Panos in the presentation given by Tetyana Romanova on work with Petro Stetsyuk and Andreas Fischer.

Below is a collage of photos from the conference.

More information on the conference: https://sites.google.com/view/panos-70/home

And it was quite remarkable to have so many Ukrainians in attendance and as speakers. Although Ukraine lost its first Euro Cup match, it did win its second one against Slovakia and Sergiy Butenko was at the match in Germany with his family.

Below is a photo of the Ukrainians at the Pardalos conference.

Wishing Professor Panos M. Pardalos wonderful experiences on his new journeys!

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Thanks to All Those Who Organize Conferences

This is going to be a very busy but exciting summer with many conferences to present at.

It takes a lot of time and effort to organize a successful conference from the venue selection to the invitation of keynote and other speakers, the organization of exciting sessions, and, of course, the various social and networking events and even panels. 

Conferences allow for the formal exchange of the latest research and also for many encounters, often occurring with serendipity. Friendships can even be made and wonderful memories established. It is great that, after a multiyear hiatus due to COVID-19, conferences are now taking place in person and with great enthusiasm!

Conferences can be huge or smaller and more focused and all play important roles.

In the next month alone, I will be giving talks at conferences in Greece (at the conference in honor of Pardalos with many friends in attendance), Denmark (at the Euro Conference, at which I will see quite a few of my former PhD students, who are now successful professors), and Italy (at the VINEPA Conference).

Thankful to be an invited speaker at the VINEPA (Variational Inequalities, Nash Equilibrium Problems and Applications) Conference in Catania, Italy. This conference will focus on some of my favorite methodological tools. 

Many thanks to the organizers of this conference. I have published journal articles with all the organizers, except for one!

Talks that I will present at the first 3 conferences have now been prepared. Deniz Besik of the University of Richmond will deliver a paper on our latest work at the Euro Conference in Copenhagen and is finalizing that presentation. I am thankful to my excellent collaborators, including colleagues at the Kyiv School of Economics (KSE) in Ukraine as well as my Isenberg School of Management PhD students.

Friday, May 31, 2024

Civilian-Military Integration of Ukrainian Defense Supply Chain - A Paper by Three Females

The ISCRAM conference, which took place recently in Munster, Germany, is now over. The conference focused on information systems for crisis response and management and attracted speakers from many countries.

I was thrilled that Professor Myroslava Kushnir of the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) in Lviv, Ukraine was able to present our paper, "Civilian-Military Integration of Ukrainian Defense Supply Chain" at the recent ISCRAM conference that took place in Munster, Germany.  The paper was also co-authored by Professor Renata Konrad of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). For all three of us, Ukrainian is our first language.

The paper was published in the refereed conference Proceedings and is open access. It can be downloaded here.


I started working with Myroslava, through the outstanding UMass Amherst - Kyiv School of Economics (KSE) partnership, in which the 1st round of Virtual Scholars had 15 scholars in Ukraine matched up with faculty hosts at UMass Amherst. 9 of the 15 were matched with faculty at the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst. I had the pleasure of working with Myroslava and also with Elena Besedina of KSE and Pavlo Martyshev of KSE as well as Oleg Nivievskyi of KSE. I published papers with all of them.

Nathan Greenfield wrote this wonderful article in World University News about the meaning of this partnership and you can see therein quotes from Kushnir, Besedina, and Martyshev.

Myroslava told me that she was the only Ukrainian that presented at the ISCRAM Conference.

Our research continues and we expect to have an announcement of the 2nd round of Virtual Scholars before too long.

Working with faculty and researchers in Ukraine has been incredibly humbling and inspirational.