Sunday, August 4, 2013

Some of the Highs and Lows of My Sabbatical

The air is now cooler in New England, some of the leaves are starting to fall, and there is a crispness and excitement in the air about the beginning of the new academic school year.

This year I have been on sabbatical from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst and since school begins in less than a month and I have already started to revise my lectures it is a good time to take stock of what has been accomplished.

It has, all in all, been a truly fabulous year and I thank my colleagues for the wonderful collaborations and visits and memories. I hope that all the research and experiences will enrich my teaching this year and beyond.

Some of the Highs:

  • Being appointed a Visiting Professor of Operations Management (applied because of a job ad in The Economist, one of my favorite publications) at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. Living and working in Sweden has led to numerous friendships and has deepened my research and scholarship. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
  • Being awarded the 2012 Walter Isard Award at the NARSC meeting in Ottawa, Canada last November. This honor and recognition for my research I will always treasure.
  • Truly special teaching experiences from teaching Supply Chain Network Theory and Operations Management at Gothenburg to giving a course on Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare at the Vienna University of Economics and Business in March 2013. My former doctoral student, Professor Tina Wakolbinger, was one of my hosts there, which made the experience even more special. I learned an immense amount from the students, as well.
  • Having my book, Networks Against Time: Supply Chain Analytics for Perishable Products, co-authored with Professor Min Yu, Amir H. Masoumi, who received his PhD in May 2013 from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is my 17th doctoral student to graduate, and Professor Ladimer S. Nagurney, my husband, published by Springer.
  • Organizing and moderating the Dynamics of Disasters Symposium at the AAAS meeting in Boston in February 2013 at which Professors Laura McLay, Panos M. Pardalos, Jose Holquin-Veras, Tina Wakolbinger, and David McLaughlin took part.
  • Working with a fabulous multiuniversity team of computer engineers and computer scientists on our NSF project, Innovation Through Choice, which has been selected as one of the 5 Future Internet . Architecture projects.  This project is supporting one of my two new female doctoral students in Management Science and this year we have had multiple paper acceptances -- very exciting!
  •  Giving invited seminars at Penn State Malvern, where I was hosted by another former doctoral student of mine, Dr. Patrick Qiang, at the University of Oklahoma, as part of its Dream Course initiative of President Boren, at UMass Amherst in its Computational Social Science Initiative, at the Vienna University of Economics and Business, and at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. 
  •  Being invited and taking part in The New York Times Energy for Tomorrow Conference in NYC on April 25, 2013, where I spoke on the Transport and Traffic panel, moderated by New York Times columnist Joe Nocera. I also had the pleasure of being interviewed by Kirk Johnson of The New York Times on the failure of the CRC bridge project in Portland/Vancouver and one of my hosts in Sweden, Professor Jonas Floden, and I were interviewed by a journalist from San Francisco for SmartPlanet on Gothenburg's congestion pricing scheme. It is such a high to see your research in transportation and logistics getting recognized in the media and in practice! Just last week I was in NYC (I am at heart a New Yorker) and was interviewed by a curator at the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum for a new exhibition that is in the works. I love talking about networks and how they impact our world!
  • Another  true highlight was giving a plenary talk at the Network Models in Economics and Finance Conference on Athens, Greece in June 2013, where I spoke on Network Economics and the Internet. Just prior to traveling to Athens, I had the honor and pleasure of giving the graduate  commencement speech at the School of Business, Economics and Law in Gothenburg. My theme this year was On Great Leadership. I guess they liked my commencement speech last year,which was on Life as a Network!
  • Another high was being asked by the Editor of ITOR (International Transactions in Operational Research), Professor Celso Ribeiro of Brazil, to identify several female scholars to add to the editorial bard of this journal. Marvelous to have male colleagues recognize the importance of diversity on journal editorial boards and both of my recommendations are now new Associate Editors!
  •  Being invited, and taking part, in the UMass Amherst Rising Gala to mark the 150th birthday of UMass Amherst! How often does one get to meet a female astronaut, Cady Coleman, who received her PhD from UMass Amherst, and to listen to Ken Feinberg, another UMass Amherst alum,  whose outstanding work on victim compensation from 9/11 to the Boston Marathon bombings through One Fund Boston is well-recognized. Both Cady and Ken were masters of ceremonies of this memorable evening.
  • Having the Nagurney Scholarship been made official. I believe that one should give back -- whether to the schools that have educated you and your family members or the colleges and universities that have employed you. Sometime next year the first recipient, which will be an Operations Management major at the Isenberg School, should receive this scholarship. Thanks to those at the Isenberg School and UMass Amherst that supported this and somehow we managed to get the paperwork through while I was in Sweden! 
 Some of the Lows:
  • Those of us who live in the Northeast of the US have had another tough year in terms of natural and other disasters, from Superstorm Sandy to the Boston Marathon bombings. Our resilience and strength have been challenged and we take support from our communities.
  • This year I lost not only two dear neighbors on our street in Amherst, Mrs. Judith Todd and Mr. Bruce Oldershaw, but also my absolutely favorite uncle and one of my greatest fans, Stanley E. Jarosz. My uncle passed away on February 13, 2013 at age 93. He was still working in Manhattan at age 92 designing bridges. Below is a list of a few of his achievements highlighted in his obituary:

In 2001, Stanley was honored with the prestigious “Roebling Award” from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) NY Metropolitan Section for his lifetime achievement in the field of Bridge Engineering.  He was deeply grateful to his colleagues at Gandhi Engineering for their nomination to this prestigious award.

His most notable accomplishment was the design of the Hale Boggs Bridge (I-310), the first-major cable-stayed bridge in the US, spanning the Mississippi River at Luling, LA.  The Boggs Bridge, with its then record-breaking span and steel towers, won the ASCE Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award for 1984. The aerodynamic design of the welded orthotropic deck of the bridge was awarded the Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation 1984 First Prize.

Between 1983 and 1987, Stanley was responsible for the emergency engineering, redesign and replacement of the fallen Mianus River Bridge on I-95 in Greenwich, CT.  This undertaking precipitated the formulation of the nationwide infrastructure renovation program, which continues to this day.  

Other notable designs and projects include the I-195 Braga Bridge in Fall River, MA, the Tennessee River Bridge in Pittsburg, TN, the 13th Street Bridge over the Ohio River in Ashland, Ohio and the replacement of the City Island Bridge over Eastchester Bay, Bronx, NY with a cable-stayed structure.

He also served on the 6 - member international panel of experts selected by Massachusetts Highway Department and the FHWA to review the proposed Charles River Bridge designs in conjunction with the Central Artery/Tunnel Project in Boston, Massachusetts.

He took great joy in his private pilot’s license, which he obtained in fulfillment of a childhood dream.  A self taught musician, he played the viola, piano and mandolin and enjoyed chamber music concerts, the opera and the ballet.  He loved learning languages (late in life he read Dante's trilogy in Italian), as well as the fellowship of his engineering colleagues, with whom he delighted sharing his love of great food, wine and the occasional off-color story.

With a new academic year on the horizon, I wonder what will this year will bring?