Monday, August 31, 2015

Co-Hosting Disaster Management Expert from Europe @UMassAmherst

September 2015 is National Preparedness Month and, propitiously, the first speaker of the year in our great UMass Amherst INFORMS Speaker series will be an expert on emergency preparedness and disaster management from Europe! His name is Dr. George M. Karagiannis from the University of Crete. I met George last summer at the Dynamics of Disasters conference that  I co-organized with Professors Pardalos and Kotisireas and his talk was fabulous. When he told me hat he would be coming to Boston in September to speak at the coastal disasters conference  I had to figure out a way of bringing him to the UMass Amherst campus. 

Although next week is the first week of classes, in collaboration with the Transportation group in the Civil and Environmental Engineering program, the UMass Amherst INFORMs Student Chapter, and I are co-hosting his visit and talk on September 10. He speaks in Boston on September 11. You can click on the announcement above to obtain a larger image of it.The poster was prepared by the Chapter President, Michael Prokle, with input from Professor Eric Gonzales of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Special thanks to Associate Dean of Engineering Dr. John Collura for also helping out in securing a room, etc., for the presentation.

The poster above has information on Dr. Karagiannis' title and abstract.

His talk will take place in Marston Room 220 at 1PM until 2PM.

Dr. Karagiannis has a PhD and 3 Master's degrees, one of which is an MBA, and for the past several months he has been working in Malta (a country that is on my bucket list) on that country's National Risk Assessment project.

Many thanks for the chapter website manager, Ekin Koker, for putting information on this presentation (although the semester begins on September 8), already on the website. 

Hope to see those who can make it to this great event.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Having Your Operations Research INFORM Policy

One of my favorite quotes on Operations Research is by INFORMS President-Elect Ed Kaplan of Yale University. It appears in  a paper that he wrote that was published in Omega, "Adventures in Policy Modeling! Operations Research in the Community and Beyond,"and says: Modeling need not be “off the shelf”—rather, modeling with OR techniques should be a celebration of creativity.

His paper is a very provocative and stimulating read  and shuts down naysayers.

The paper also is filled with examples as to how Operations Research has informed policy and associated decision-making. The article is focused on community-based policies.  Examples are drawn from urban applications (Dick Larson's research and practical applications), AIDS modeling and needle exchanges (work done by Kaplan), drug control (Jonathan Caulkins), and even homicides and gun availability (Al Blumstein's many contributions), to start, and, of course, security.  Some great work in this area has been done by, I note, among others, Ed Kaplan, Larry Wein, Sheldon Jacobson, and Laura McLay.

Operations Research has been instrumental in informing policies in other settings, as well, from transportation and logistics to the environment and even medical decision-making, and humanitarian operations.

I work on network systems with many associated applications and it is very gratifying when research that you do also informs policy.

A few years ago, in research conducted with Patrick Qiang, who was my doctoral student at the Isenberg School of Management, and with whom I wrote the Fragile Networks book, we introduced a network performance measure, which  allows for the identification and ranking of nodes and links in various network systems operating under decentralized behavior (think of urban transportation networks, certain supply chains, financial networks, and even the Internet). (Patrick is now a tenured Associate Professor at Penn State Great Valley, as of Fall 2015, so more congrats are in order!)

The results of this research appeared in various journals, including Operations Research ones, and even physics, since we wanted to disseminate the work broadly for maximum impact.  A high level overview of our results with some applications appears in: Fragile Networks: Identifying Vulnerabilities and Synergies in an Uncertain Age, Anna Nagurney and Qiang Qiang, International Transactions in Operational Research 19: (2012) pp 123-160.

The Nagurney-Qiang performance measure has been used in Indonesia to assess new shipping routes in a study financed in part, by the World Bank.   A nice overview of the approach is in a presentation on Prezi.

Our performance measure has also been used by researchers in Greece, led by Mitsakis and collaborators,  to conduct  network performance and components’ criticality analyses to assess the effects of the immense 2007 fires in Peloponnesus on vehicular traffic and the overall transport network.  See also recent work by some of the same researchers on climate change and our measure. 

In addition, it has been leveraged in an insightful report, "Guidebook for Enhancing Resilience of European Road Transport in Extreme Weather Events."

Schulz used our network performance measure to assess the importance of roadways in a part of Germany.  

It was also applied in Ireland to assess new Dublin metro lines. 

It has been utilized to assess the potential impact of earthquakes on critical infrastructure and is now even being applied outside the policy arena in physiological settings (yes, networks are everywhere and that is one reason why I love them!).

As for my work on paradoxes, including environmental ones, in 2007, one of my papers was featured in the New Zealand parliament; info here. 

Operations Researchers work on tough problems with solutions having broad and fascinating impacts!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Joy of Sending Your Book to the Publisher

Last week, I uploaded the finished manuscript of  my latest book, "Competing on Supply Chain Quality: A Network Economics Perspective,"  to my publisher's (Springer's) website. The book is co-authored with Dong "Michelle" Li, my former doctoral student, who is now an Assistant Professor at the College of Business at Arkansas State University.

The book will appear in the Springer Series in Supply Chain Management, whose Founding Editor is Professor Chris Tang of the UCLA Anderson School of Management. He has been very supportive throughout this project and we acknowledge him warmly in the book.

The book is 400 pages and represents about half a decade of our work on developing supply chain network models with quality, as well as prices or quantities,  as strategic variables, of manufacturers, suppliers, or firms that are outsourced to, as well as freight service providers. The book deals with critical issues such as information asymmetry, make or buy decisions, and supplier selection, and also demonstrates how to identify and rank the most important suppliers to a firm's supply chain and to the supply chain network economy. 

Completing the book was a big task since some of the final writing was done while I was in Gothenburg, Sweden as a Visiting Professor this summer and also speaking at many conferences and Michelle was in Amherst,  getting ready for her move to assume her Assistant Professorship position.

The feeling of accomplishment (and relief) in getting the book finished and even ahead of schedule is very rewarding.

I enjoy writing technical books since one can put a stamp on a topic that one is very passionate about and integrate the existing research and literature in a fresh way. Sometimes I am asked what my legacy will be and I hope that it does include my books. Colleagues from different parts of the world have told me that when a new book of mine arrives in their offices, students often disappear with it, which I find to be a great compliment.

Submitting the manuscript and all the chapter files and jpgs to a Springer website was easy and smooth and I was reminded of  how several of my other books in earlier days were shipped off to the publisher. For example, several of my early books, including my first, published in 1993: "Network Economics: A Variational Inequality Approach," which is my most highly cited publication according to Google Scholar,  and which also had a second edition in 1999, were submitted on special paper in camera-ready form and obviously mailed. Kluwer was my first publisher and then the company was bought by Springer.

Several of my books have had disasters associated with the shipment and, so far, luckily, the latest one has had a peaceful arrival and acknowledgment and is now in production, which is thrilling.
My book, "Supernetworks: Decision-Making for the Information Age," published in 2002, which I wrote with June Dong of SUNY Oswego, who was my first female PhD student, was mailed to the publisher, Edward Elgar Publishing in Cheltenham, England, just before 9/11. It ended up during the terror attacks and aftermath at JFK airport before the airspace opened up again.

And, my book, "Networks Against Time: Supply Chain Analytics for Perishable Products," which was published by Springer in 2013, was emailed just before Superstorm Sandy struck on October 29, 2012 to the Springer offices in NYC, which were flooded (they are located on Spring Street). I could not reach my Springer editor for days. This book was written with Min Yu of the University of Portland and Amir H. Masoumi of Manhattan College (both of whom were my former doctoral students), and the other Professor Nagurney, my husband, Ladimer S. Nagurney of the University of Hartford.

There is something special about seeing a book that you have written, hot off the press, holding it in your hands and looking through it (and hoping all the pages are there and nothing is missing).

So, whatever your legacy will be, I do hope that mine, in part, will be the books that I have written and still hope to write.  Even in this era of so many distractions and shortened attention spans, books, I believe, can make a contribution and a difference.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Just Some of the Very Cool Accomplishments of Isenberg Faculty This Summer

One of the best aspects of the Isenberg School of Management in addition to, of course, our great students, is the faculty, who are my colleagues.

This summer there have been so many accomplishments at a time when the public think that we are just "on vacation" that I thought they would merit a blogspot. Besides being intellectual leaders, my colleagues are terrific educators and also genuinely nice and very interesting people.

My readers know that in late June and July I was in Greece co-organizing the Dynamics of Disasters conference with Professor Pardalos of the University of Florida and Professor Kotsireas of Wilfrid University in Canada.

We were in Kalamata, Greece on June 29, 2015 (the first day of our conference) when the banks closed due to the Greek financial crisis and the lines at the ATM machines (which had financial funds left) were growing.

My Isenberg colleague, Professor Nikos Artavanis of the Finance Department, meanwhile,  had been researching the crisis and what to do about it. His study, co-authored with two colleagues from the Booth School at the University of Chicago,  "Tax Evasion Across Industries: Soft Credit Evidence from Greece," revealed  that tax evasion was most prevalent among Greece's highly educated professionals, that is, doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, and even journalists. Hence, what was needed, was a good tax collector in Greece! Nikos's paper received international attention and a writeup from CBS News can be found here. 

Professor Artavanis, by the way, is Greek, and he often brings me back some Greek coffee from his travels there, which I very much appreciate.

And, another Finance professor at Isenberg, Dr. Mila Getmansky Sherman, with whom last September, along with my Operations and Information Management colleague, Professor Senay Solak, and Engineering colleague, Professor Wayne Burleson, we organized a great (I am biased but it was terrific) cybersecurity workshop at the Sloan School of MIT, also had great media coverage of her latest research. It was conducted with Professor Andrew Lo of MIT (who was a keynote speaker at our workshop). The paper, "Hedge Funds: A Dynamic Industry in Transition," was also co-authored with Peter Lee. According to the study, "due to inherent biases in the way hedge-fund databases compile results, the industry's returns have been about half as strong as they appear," as reported by Bloomberg News. The interview and report can be accessed here. 

My Marketing Department colleagues, Professors Charles Schewe and George Milne (who is also Isenberg's PhD Program Director), completed, along with two of our doctoral students and a colleague from Australia,  a fascinating study on baby boomers and aging. Their findings, according to the University of Technology Sydney, in Australia:
  • They found that what counts isn’t how many birthdays you’ve had but social, mental and biological factors.
  • With the help of the subjective age index, you may be able to correct any of those factors so you can ‘manage’ your age.
My Sports Management colleague, Professor Todd Crosset, earlier this summer, delivered an invited talk in Geneva on racism in sports. He was invited by the United Nations to speak on his work. 

My Accounting Department colleague, Professor David Piercey, shook up the auditing world this summer with his paper, which, through behavioral experiments, showed that forcing companies to periodically change their auditing firms can prove counterproductive. His paper was published this summer in The Accounting Review.  This research received extensive coverage in the accounting press.

And, Professor Bradley Bennett, also of Accounting, recently, received a big honor, the Wildman Medal Award, for his co-authored paper, with Professor Hatfield of the University of Alabama, "The Effect of the Social Mismatch Between Staff Auditors and Client Management on the Collection of Audit Evidence."

There are many other achievements but the above, I believe, provide a wonderful snapshot of the kind of research and activities that faculty at a business school, and, especially the Isenberg School of Management, engage in.

Having such successful and very active faculty keeps one constantly striving and achieving but, then again, we certainly love what we do!

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Magical Wedding of a Brown University PhD and Colleague

After spending a total of 8 weeks in various countries in Europe and South America conducting research and speaking at multiple conferences it has been nice to be back in Amherst before the new academic year begins.

Academics in the summer keep very busy (I am in the process of finishing up writing a 400 page book) and we continue to work with our students.

Summer is also a time for weddings and "academic" weddings are a lot of fun since they also, very often, serve as reunions.

Yesterday, my husband and I had the pleasure of attending a beautiful wedding of a colleague of his, Dr. Ying Yu,  who received her PhD from Brown University in engineering.  In attendance were also her dissertation advisor from Brown, Professor Harvey Silverman, whom we have known for many years, and his lovely wife, who has 3 Brown degrees (in Math and Computer Science). Professor Silverman  has a PhD from Brown. The bride was Professor Silverman's 22nd PhD student. She did a postdoc in Italy before joining the engineering faculty at the University of Hartford. This year she received her promotion to Associate Professor with tenure!

My husband has 2 graduate degrees from Brown, including his PhD, which is in physics, and I have 4 degrees from Brown, including my PhD in Applied Math with a specialty in Operations Research.

Below are some photos of the wedding, which took place at Saint Clements Castle in Connecticut.

The ceremony was outdoors followed by a reception and a lavish dinner with scrumptious desserts and dancing. The parents of the bride could not make it from China but their letter was read in Chiene and translated. Many colleagues from the University of Hartford, as well as staff, came to the wedding to help Ying celebrate. The wedding party had two female professors, one of engineering, and one of computer science. Needless to say, the conversations over dinner were on high tech topics.

We wish the newlywed couple, Ying and Eric, much happiness!


Below are the Brown University alums.
I attended the wedding of one of my PhD students, Dr. Trisha Woolley Anderson,  a few years ago. It  was a great reunion with other former PhD students in attendance.  I wrote about the experience in the blogpost: I was the Academic Mother of the Bride.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Learning from a Very Successful Isenberg MBA Alumnus

Last week I was in Bogota, Colombia, to give a plenary talk at an international congress. The experience was fabulous. It was my first time in Colombia and the themes of the conference with a focus on logistics and supply chain management very much resonated with me.

Another reason that I was very enthusiastic in accepting the invitation to speak in Bogota was that not only was I now collaborating on Internet research with Colombian colleagues, including a doctoral student, Luis Marentes, but one of my favorite former MBA students, Roberto Sanz de Santamaria, who received his MBA from the Isenberg School, lives and works in Bogota.  He and his family had visited me in Amherst a few years ago. His family traces its lineage in Bogota to the middle of the last millennium  and its members have included diplomats and civil engineers that have made a great impact on the country. For example, his grandfather, Carlos Sanz de Santamaria, not only twice served as Colombia's ambassador to the United Nations, and as the mayor of Bogota, but, as a civil engineer, was instrumental to some of the major building and other projects in Bogota.

The conference was over at noon last Thursday and I had the best private tour guide - my former student Roberto Sanz de Santamaria. He had also been my Research Assistant and we had worked on supercomputing applications of network equilibria using the Cornell University National Supercomputer Facility. When I was at Cornell for several weeks one summer he joined me for a visit.

Roberto is a walking encyclopedia on the history of Bogota and Colombia, its challenges and dreams for the future. Roberto showed me the dedicated bus lanes to reduce traffic congestion and I also heard about the ambitious project that Roberto is involved in to strategize about private public partnerships for a subway in Bogota.We had many discussions over a delicious lunch at the restaurant, Madre, which is in a converted warehouse and is very trendy, complete with a band.

The food was exquisite - featured below. A special treat was our drinks in cups with characters in them.

Roberto told me about magical realism and the writings of Colombia's Nobel laureate in literature - Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Coincidentally, he had studied at the National University of Colombia which was the site of the conference. The theme of magical reality surrounded our afternoon and evening.

After lunch, we walked through the Candelaria district, which is part of downtown Bogota and is actually the historic Old Town. During our explorations and the magnificent images of buildings, plazas, and the people, I continued to  feel a sense of wonder - what would be behind the metal or wooden doors of the various buildings? I got to see beautiful patios, historical homes, and even received a tour of one of the ministries of the government. Often Roberto would usher me into a building and I would gasp in awe. The symphony orchestra was rehearsing before its evening concert next to the palace on a grand plaza where there were many Colombian flags flying. Friday was a national holiday. We visited the cathedral and the Santa Clara museum, which is a converted church filled with gold in which fashion objects are also displayed.

In the second photo immediately above I captured (but not quite fast enough) a man walking his two burros, which thoroughly delighted me. And, speaking of burros (and since with my Colombian collaborators, we are working on Delay Tolerant Networks and the Internet for rural areas, which can include other modes of transport (even burros)), another plenary speaker at the conference, Jose Holquin-Veras, told me about the biblioburros, a very touching story about a man bringing library books to children in rural areas of Colombia, which was even featured on PBS.

One of the high points was seeing the house in Candelaria with a plaque in honor of his family.
It was great to meet several of Roberto's close friends whose creativity and energy are truly inspiring. I was even welcomed into a home of an entrepreneur and artists, which was one of the most beautiful homes that I have ever been in. The graciousness and hospitality that we were welcomed with were extraordinary.
Above is the garden of the home, which is a jungle. The view from the top of the home was a panorama of the city of Bogota with the Andes as a backdrop. That image I will never forget (I had left my camera downstairs in the living room and am still regretting that).

We ended the evening with a delicious dinner of Asian fusion cuisine - simply heavenly.

What could make a professor happier and prouder than learning so much from a former student, who has had a fabulous career in management consulting as well as in finance!

The day was exceptional and I will never, ever forget it.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Fabulous Logistics Conference in Bogota, Colombia - over 8,000 Feet Above Sea Level

I returned last night from Bogota, Colombia where I had very memorable experiences.

I was in South America to give a plenary talk at the 2nd Industry and Organizations Congress - Logistics, Innovation and Technological Development. I was invited by the PhD program in Industry and Organizations Engineering of the National University of Colombia. The Department of Indiustrial Engineering also served as a host since it was celebrating its 15th anniversary.
 Bogota is at an elevation of about 8,300 feet and is situated on what was a savannah with the stunning Andes mountains in the background. The climate is perfect - about 65 degrees Fahrenheit all year round during the day time.

The city now has over 8 million residents so it was very interesting to see the traffic flow and the articulated busses in special bus lanes  as we were shuttled from the Radisson Airport Hotel, where the other plenary speakers and I were housed,  to the university. The hotel is actually 15 minutes from the airport and it is stunning and so comfortable. The first day, Gustavo, in the photo below with me, accompanied us on the shuttle. He is matriiculating this Fall in the  Master's degree program in Supply Chain Management that my former doctoral student at the Isenberg School, Professor Tina Wakolbinger co-directs at the Vienna University of Economics and Business.What a small academic world!

There was a very elegant opening session to the conference (congress)  with welcomes from academics and other dignitaries. The two announcers were also excellent.

It was a pleasure to see colleagues from RPI (Abhi Deshmukh), Purdue (Jose Holquin-Veras), and Montreal (Teo Crainic), and to make many new connections with researchers and practitioners, as well as delightful students,  from Colombia, Mexico, France, Chile, the US, and other countries.

There were about 500 in attendance and two rooms were used to seat the audience for the plenary talks, and the lectures were videostreamed. 

The program even had a musical interlude with the duo even singing a Ukrainian song (I found out that the guitarist's mother was Ukrainian). This certainly made me feel welcome since Ukrainian is my first language!

About 70% of the lectures were in Spanish so I had a mini Spanish refresher immersion course. I had lived in Mexico between high school and college so I understood a lot and can communicate in basic Spanish. I enjoyed my time in Bogota so much that I hope to have more opportunities to practice this beautiful language and to return to Colombia.

My lecture on Sustainable Supply Chains for Sustainable Cities was translated simultaneously as were the others. The last time I had a plenary or keynote talk of mine translated was when I spoke in China and in Russia a few years back.

The discussions on sustainability and supply chains that I had afterwards with fellow conference attendees were stimulating and provocative on topics from life cycle assessment to sustainable fish supply chains and corporate social responsibility. We discussed freight consolidation, cooperation among stakeholders in supply chains, and, of course, freight deliveries at night among other "policies." I had many students and faculty come up to me afterwards to be photographed with me and I very much appreciated the warmth and hospitality.

I enjoyed all the lectures that I attended and below are a few photos of the plenary talks: My colleagues were brilliant and I hope that the presentations get posted by the conference organizers.

Once the conference was over on Thursday at noon I then met with a former Isenberg School of Management MBA student of mine who gave me a private tour of the city and historic district. This truly magical experience I will write about in a subsequent blogpost.

Below, I have posted additional photos from the conference, some scenes of Bogota and the university, as well as our scrumptious breakfasts at the Radisson with papaya, fresh pineapple, and even watermelon juice.

Colombia has had a very challenging history and security is fairly tight. For example, the guards and explosive sniffing dog (whose name I found out is "Mark"), were situated next to the gate in front of the Radisson.

Plus, on my flight yesterday from Bogota to Atlanta I sat next to a female executive who works at Cargill in Minneapolis,  and who has a degree in Industrial Engineering from Colombia, and an MBA. Our conversations on topics ranging from risk management to being a professional female, who travels a lot, were fascinating. My collection of business cards has grown.

Many, many thanks to our wonderful hosts at this Congress for their warmth, attention to detail, hospitality, and for putting together such an excellent scientific program! 

Hasta luego!