Friday, July 3, 2009

Chasing Research Ideas, Catching Tornados, and Getting the News Out

In conducting research one tries to both uncover and to solve underlying mysteries. As any researcher and sleuth knows, this requires patience and great stamina. Plus, it is insufficient to just figure out what is happening -- one also needs to document the findings in publications and to get the news out. The 2009 Summer edition of the Isenberg School of Management's glossy publication, Commonwealth, which is edited by the school's Communication Director, Mr. Lou Wigdor, captures the spectrum of recent activities at the Isenberg School, including research activities, along with the excitement of discoveries. The cover above is fantastic and draws you into the volume and the article on forensic accounting. Inside the issue, you will find what this great school has been up to in the past few months. My department, the Finance and Operations Management Department, has been busier than ever and I invite you to read inside about the outstanding activities of my colleagues. In addition, you will find a welcome to our incoming Dean, Dr. Mark Fuller, by Dr. Tony Butterfield, who has served as the Interim Dean for the past two years, and has led the school with his professionalism and wisdom.

We were delighted to see an article in this issue on our electric power supply chain network research at the Virtual Center for Supernetworks, which resulted in a major paper, co-authored with Zugang Liu, a UMass PhD, who is now an Assistant Professor at Penn State University at Hazleton. The study, which models the electric power supply chain for all of New England, is in press in the journal, Naval Research Logistics, and the preprint can be found here.

Chasing research ideas can sometimes feel like chasing tornados and earlier in this blog I wrote about the research team of Professor Frasier at UMass Amherst, since my husband is now on sabbatical at UMass and is working with Professor Frasier as well as with the CASA team, directed by Professor David McLaughlin. Frasier's team was involved in the recent mega project, known as VORTEX2, in which groups of researchers, literally, chased tornados throughout the south and midwest of the United States. The teams spent 6 weeks on the road, sometimes driving hundreds of miles each day, slept in less than ideal conditions, ate what and when they could, all for the goal of gathering data and tracking tornados (which were not appearing at their usual frequencies this past May in the south and midwest). But the project, nevertheless, was a big success and the data is now being analyzed. I salute the students and the researchers who do what it takes to solve those big, challenging problems!