Friday, December 24, 2010

What a Year it Was!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way ... Charles Dickens from his novel, A Tale of Two Cities.

The beginning of 2010 was marked, for many of us, by the news of the horrific earthquake that struck Haiti last January 12; with the suffering of its people continuing to this day. It was followed, only two days after, by a "local" shocking event, that happened only one town over from Amherst, and that circulated around the world -- the suicide of 15 year old Phoebe Prince.

As educators and researchers, the above deeply tragic events, had some of us refocus our energies. And, of course, some of us also had personal and familial tragedies to deal with. But as is said, what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.

At the same time, there were so many "best of times" and some of my highlights, as a professor, I list below.

  • My former student and my co-author of the Fragile Networks book, Dr. Patrick Qiang, was honored with the Charles V. Wootan Award last January by the Council of University Transportation Centers in Washington DC for his doctoral dissertation, Network Efficiency / Performance Measurement with Vulnerability and Robustness Analysis with Application to Critical Infrastructure. Last March, Dr. Qiang joined me in giving a tutorial on the theme of our book at the SBP 2010 Conference at NIH. I then further disseminated our research in my tutorial at the ALIO-INFORMS Conference in Buenos Aires, which brought me, for the first time, to the continent of South America.
  • A female PhD student of mine, Trisha Woolley (now Anderson) received her PhD in 2010 and assumed her Assistant Professorship at Texas Wesleyan University.Her dissertation title: Sustainable Supply Chains: Multicriteria Decision-Making and Policy Analysis for the Environment. She was my 15th PhD student to graduate and my 6th female.
  • We celebrated the graduation of our wonderful undergraduate students from the Isenberg School last May -- another highlight of 2010!
  • A former doctoral student of mine, Dr. Tina Wakolbinger, received an offer of a Full Professorship from the Vienna University of Economics and Business, a position which she will start next May, having been an Assistant Professor at the University of Memphis since receiving her PhD in 2007. Her research in humanitarian operations and, more recently, on electronic recycling, and that of my other former students and collaborators, give me hope for a better future.
  • Two present doctoral students of mine had notable successes with their research: Min Yu had two papers accepted for publication, including: "Supply Chain Network Design for Critical Needs with Outsourcing," co-authored with Patrick Qiang and me. Also, Amir Masoumi completed the paper, with Min and me, entitled: "Supply Chain Network Operations Management of a Blood Banking System with Cost and Risk Minimization."
  • The UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter, that I serve as the Faculty Advisor of, received the Magna Cum Laude Award for its activities at the INFORMS National Meeting in Austin, Texas last November. They have started both a Facebook page and are on twitter, thanks to the chapter's new President, Nathan Kollett.
  • The Network Science conference in Yalta brought me to the country of the birthplace of my parents, Ukraine, whereas the Computational Management Science conference at the University of Vienna brought together so many of my favorite colleagues from around the globe.
  • As for the INFORMS conference in Austin, Texas, thanks to all for the wonderful memories!
  • Also, thanks to all of my undergraduate and graduate students (both present and former ones) for being so special and so terrific! You will help to change the world for the better!

Let me end with the words of a new community service organization, Count Me In, that was started in South Hadley, in response to the tragedy of Phoebe Prince's suicide, and an article on which appears in today's Daily Hampshire Gazette.

This organization has its motto emblazoned on the backs of its t-shirts:

Respond with integrity and kindness/Embrace diversity/Stand up courageously for others/Promote a climate of safety/Eliminate hurtful words and rumors/Care for and listen to others with compassion/Take responsibility for my actions.

The above words should be followed in our daily lives.