Friday, March 4, 2016

Inspiring Lecture by Professor Michael Johnson on Community-Based Operations Research

Today, we had the great pleasure of hosting Professor Michael Johnson of the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at UMass Boston.

Professor Johnson spoke in our UMass Amherst INFORMS Speaker Series at the Isenberg School of Management and the students from the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter prepared the nice poster below.

His visit and talk were inspirational.

It began with a delicious lunch at the University Club. We ended up sharing the chocolate cake and the lemon mascarpone cake for dessert.
The title of Professor Johnson's presentation was: Community-Based Operations Research: Data Analytics and Decision Modeling for Community Development and Social Change. At lunch, we discussed what inspired Dr. Johnson to focus on CBOR and to become a leader in this subdiscipline of Operations Research. He even brought copies of his slides for the audience and also brought copies of his two books for us to look at. One of his books, Decision Science for Housing and Community Development, published by Wiley, was co-authored with my colleague, Dr. Senay Solak, who, of course, came to the presentation.
The wonderful UMass Amherst INFORMS Chapter President, Zana Cranmer, introduced our guest speaker.
The audience learned that CBOR is an extension of multiple traditions in Operations Research and the Management Sciences to produce research for local change; that it attempts to incorporate critical thinking, evidence-based policy design and prescriptive decision modeling, and that it also aims for social justice.

The audience was clearly entranced hearing about the problems that Professor Johnson has worked on. The success of Professor Johnson's  work in Community-Based Operations Research in foreclosed housing development and the revitalization of neighborhoods, in identifying alternative uses for vacant properties to ensure municipal stability, and in community data analytics for economic development was awe-inspiring. His unique and diverse solution approaches to tackling some of the most challenging problems in urban and other environments with a focus on rigor, community engagement, and social justice demonstrate his great thought leadership and scholarship.

After the great presentation, Zana presented our speaker with a gift from the Isenberg School and then it was time to take a group picture.
Students lingered as did some faculty to continue the conversations as well as to enjoy the refreshments!
Many thanks to Professor Michael Johnson for coming to UMass Amherst today and also for his great work in CBOR! Congratulations also to Professor Johnson on being elected as the INFORMS VP of Student Chapters and Fora.