Friday, June 10, 2016

Great Academic Experiences in London

I returned from London, which was extra busy in preparation for the Queen's 90th birthday celebrations this weekend,  to Oxford via train in the late afternoon today.

We had left for London on Wednesday afternoon since I was to give the presentation: Supply Chain Networks Against Time: From Food to Pharma, at the Centre for Transport Studies at Imperial College on Thursday afternoon. I was invited to speak by Dr Panagiotis Angeloudis, Senior Lecturer in Engineering Systems and Logistics and the Director, Port Operations Research & Technology Centre. Professor Angeloudis has done fascinating work on critical infrastructure resilience, construction logistics, as well as maritime transport, including a recent game theory model which was just published in Transportation Research B. He is supervising 9 PhD students and has 3 postdocs working for him - very impressive - and is a computer geek with a lot of skills in data visualization.

When I arrived in London, I checked my email messages, and found a message from a reporter from Waterloo, Canada, Jeff Outhit, requesting an interview with me on ransomware and cyberattacks. He needed a response quickly and we managed to correspond and the great article that he wrote was published. The title is: "Cyber ransoms are ‘fastest-growing threat,’ expert warns." Outhit had seen that I gave a keynote talk at the University of Waterloo on cybercrime and cybersecurity on April 15, 2016 on Analytics Day. That great conference was organized by my INFORMS colleague, Dr. Fatma Gzara, whom I thank in my presentation, which Outhit even linked to in his article.

Since the hotel I was staying at was close to Hyde Park the morning of my presentation I had to take a walk there since I just love the green spaces.
I was treated to a delicious lunch in a beautiful building before my talk with both Professor Angeloudis and Professor Washington Y. Ochieng, the Head of the Centre for Transport Studies, who is very dynamic and a great intellectual force and leader, whom I enjoyed speaking with very much. 

The audience for my talk, which was on June 9, 2016, consisted of students, postdocs, and also representatives from industry, including from data science, which was very neat. 
I also had a great surprise: Professor Ben Heydecker, a transportation professor from the University of College London, whom I had not seen for a long time, but with whom I have very pleasant memories, which included even conversations with my dissertation advisor at Brown University, Professor Stella Dafermos, at various conferences, came to my talk. 
Of course, we had to talk about the book by such dear colleagues as Professors David E, Boyce and Huw Williams,  Forecasting Urban Travel, whose book launch I was a panelist at last Fall at Northwestern University.

I enjoyed giving my presentation very much since the audience was very attentive and afterwards they also asked great questions. We continued the discussions for about an hour after my presentation, which was delightful.

The conversations with Professor Panagiotis Angeloudis were also much too short - from drones for disaster relief and delivery of medicines to ancient Roman supply chains - this is a must to explore  research and tools by an archeologist at Stanford, which I could very much relate to because, as a Visiting Fellow now at All Souls College at Oxford University, I interact not only with economists, mathematicians, and scientists but also with humanists and archeologists!

And, yesterday evening, after a very pleasant seminar and discussions - Professor Panagiotis' group reminds me of the United Nations - with students from different countries working so well together - my family and I were hosted by Dr. Stavros Siokos, a former doctoral student of mine, with whom I wrote the Financial Networks book. Dr. Siokos is a financier based in London and has a PhD in Industrial Engineering from UMass Amherst and I was his dissertation advisor. He is also a Center Associate of the Virtual Center for Supernetworks at the Isenberg School of Management, which I founded almost 15 years ago!

Stavros took us to an exclusive club for dinner - the Royal Automobile Club (RAC), where the ambience was extraordinary as was the food and service, but, best of all, were the conversations with a former student of mine, who has achieved great success in industry. We discussed even the possibility of Brexit, that is, England leaving the European Union, with the vote taking place on June 23, 2016. This would be disastrous for numerous reasons, including for research and science, which is not even much written about.  The possibility of Brexit as well as Trump are major topics of conversation among the Fellows at All Souls College at Oxford University.

It is quite the experience living in England during this very historic time.

Below are some photos, including several of the desserts eaten at the exquisite dinner, last night.

Thanks to both Professor Panagiotis Andeloudis and to Dr. Stavros Siokos for such fabulous experiences in London!

We ended the evening with a walk to Stavros' office which had been Eisenhower's office when he planned D-Day, got to see the home of the richest man in England, and saw St. James Park, as well.