Thursday, May 5, 2016

Magical First Week as a Visiting Fellow at Oxford University

Only last Friday I arrived in England to begin a new adventure - that of being a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College at Oxford University.

During this week, I have settled into my apartment in Iffley Turn, explored my surroundings, and have garnered so many wonderful impressions and experiences.
My office at All Souls College overlooks a rose garden and water fountain and the gardener keeps the flowers and greenery immaculate. I have brought good weather to Oxford (as my colleagues in Gothenburg used to say I would do there as well).

I have met Visiting Fellows, and, coincidentally, Dr. Su Fang Ng, who was also a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University in 2005-2006, when I was there, is also a Visiting Fellow now and has an office close to me. I have also met fellows and even Emeriti Fellows.

Many mornings I have been walking to work, which is about a 40 minute walk, but, given the delicious, multiple course meals that we are served for lunch and dinner, getting exercise is a necessity! I have enjoyed riding the double decker busses and marvel and the number of cyclists and pedestrians in this city.I have had lunch with the Dean of Visiting Fellows, Professor Simon Hornblower, who is a classicist, and fellow lover of Greece and have even met a Fellow who was visiting my friend and operations researcher at MIT, Professor Asu Ozdaglar. The academic world is so small and filled with surprises.

For dinner, I wear my black gown, which has my name in it, and we dine by candlelight in a great Hall, which is wood-panelled, and filled with oil paintings. The painting below is of the staff and I am trying to learn many of their names.
I have enjoyed the tea time and also we were treated to a magnificent lecture (at 8:30PM) this past Tuesday by Visiting Fellow Nicholas Shakespeare (and, yes, a relative of THE Shakespeare), who spoke on 6 Minutes in May. He is an award-winning novelist and biographer.

This experience reminds me of being at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center on Lake Como and also a bit of being at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. However, this experience has many original features and aspects to it.

Today I had the pleasure of meeting a PhD student at the Said Business School at Oxford,  who is as obsessed with networks as I am, and who had contacted me a few weeks ago, while I was still in Amherst. Ellen has 6 graduate degrees, including a law degree, and is researching knowledge networks in companies, especially those in China. Plus. she is from Massachusetts!

After a wonderful research conversation in the garden she took me to the Mathematical Institute and we took the photos below there. The café is, appropriately, called the Pi Café. I also got to see a class in session and narvelled at all the boards one could write on!
She also took me to the building which houses Oxfam, which was founded in Oxford and is very close to All Souls. Since I teach a course on Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare at the Isenberg School of Management, this was extra special. And she presented me with a souvenir.
Also, in my first week at Oxford, as I mentioned in my previous post, we are nearing completion of the editing of the Dynamics of Disasters volume with 19 papers!