Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Logistics and Joy of Baking Holiday Cookies and Delivering Them the Academic Way

All academics have to be very patient - it takes time to get a PhD, time to get promotion and tenure, and one has to wait referees' reports on journal articles that we submit, which we then revise, and, hopefully, the articles that we have labored so hard on, do get accepted and then published, which also takes time!

It is, hence, advisable to also have activities that one can engage in that one gets more or less instant gratification from and focuses a different part of the brain, although, as an academic, one brings one's analytical and critical thinking skills to almost any endeavor.

This time of the year, when the weather gets colder, and the days shorter, and one has recovered from the Thanksgiving travel and celebrations, I always enjoy baking holiday cookies. But even more so, I enjoy delivering them to friends and neighbors.

The logistics of cookie baking involves identifying the types of cookies to be baked and finding the recipes, procuring the necessary ingredients, scheduling the baking of the cookie varieties (some, serendipitously, might not even require baking, such as our famous chocolate rum walnut balls), waiting for them to cool, decorating them, if necessary, putting them on plates for delivery and packaging them nicely. Then I usually insert a nice holiday card and figure out the optimal routing for delivery, always taking into consideration the day and time of departure to try and find the recipients at home.

This year, the first batches of cookies that I baked took parts of two different days and a big tip is using parchment paper since there is no cleaning of baking pans before putting on the next batch and into the oven.

Below are some photos from this baking project and my family members are the taste testers and approvers.

The ingredients in the cookie recipes this year included lots of almond paste, candied cherries, coconut, pecans, walnuts, chocolate,  the usual butter, sugar, and vanilla, plus raspberry jam, to make butter cookies that our wonderful staff member at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, Wivvian Hall, once made for me when I was a Visiting Professor there and then gave me the recipe!

Now, since our friends and neighbors range from very young children to those in the mid80s, and many children like the less fancy cookies, I also make some cookies (see above) with reindeer faces and Christmas trees on them. These are ready to bake.

This past Sunday, we did one of the biggest deliveries, and to see the joy on the neighbors' faces was very special. Even two little boys wrote us a beautiful thank you card and delivered it to our door. It is important, especially in this day and age, to support your immediate community and neighbors and to show that they matter. Baking is a labor of love and a way of saying, in a small way, that someone matters. We will continue to be making deliveries and baking as well, which provide a warm and welcoming break from end of the semester projects, exams, and all sorts of committee meetings.

Of course, I also plan to bake more cookies for various events and parties including our end of the semester UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter party at the Isenberg School of Management. This semester I am teaching a class on Transportation and Logistics and am practicing what I preach.

Happy holidays!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Our Dynamics of Disasters Book is Published!

The good news arrived Thanksgiving Day in the evening.

The book that I had co-edited with Professor Ilias S. Kotsireas of Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada and Professor Panos M. Pardalos of the University of Florida had been published and was available already also in electronic format.
The book, Dynamics of Disasters: Key Insights, Models, Algorithms, and Insights, published by Springer International Publishing Switzerland, is an outgrowth of a conference that we had co-organized in the summer of 2015, which had been held in Kalamata, Greece. The book contains 18 refereed book chapters as well as a preface written by the co-editors and the Table of Contents, Preface, and all contributors can be downloaded in pdf format. 

In addition, to submissions from conference participants and speakers a call also went out for paper submissions. Since we have been working in this area for a while and since I also each spring teach a course on Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare at the Isenberg School of Management excellent contributions were received, including several from practitioners, and contributors from the United Nations.
Working on this book was a true labor of love and I could not have asked for more generous and wonderful co-editors, and the same goes to all of the reviewers, who will remain anonymous, but whose careful reading of the submitted papers and constructive suggestions were very much appreciated.

In the photo below, taken in Kalamata, Greece, I am standing with from left to right Dr. Fuad Aleskerov, Dr. Panos M. Pardalos, Dr. Ilias S. Kotsireas, and Dr. Burcu Balcik.
Aleskerov, Pardalos, Kotsireas, and I are co-organizing the next Dynamics of Disasters conference, which will be held July 5-9, 2017, also in Kalamata, Greece.  The program committee consists of outstanding scientists from around the globe.

The chapters in our Dynamics of Disasters book and the names of the contributors are below.

Preface, Contents, Authors Illias S. Kotsireas, Anna Nagurney, and Panos M. Pardalos, Editors
1 An Assessment of the Impact of Natural and Technological Disasters Using a DEA Approach Fuad Aleskerov, Sergey Demin
2 Selective Routing for Post-Disaster Needs Assessment Burcu Balcik
3 Bridging the Gap: Preparing for Long-Term Infrastructure Disruptions Rasmus Dahlberg
4 Multi-Hazard Scenarios and Impact Mapping for a Protected Built Area in Bucharest, as a Base for Emergency Planning Emil-Sever Georgescu, Cristian Iosif Moscu, Claudiu Sorin Dragomir, Daniela Dobre
5 Lean Thinking and UN Field Operations: A Successful Co-existence? Sulejman Halilagic, Dimitris Folinas
6 Collaborative Incident Planning and the Common Operational Picture Georgios Marios Karagiannis, Costas E. Synolakis
7 Metaheuristic Optimization for Logistics in Natural Disasters Thomai Korkou, Dimitris Souravlias, Konstantinos Parsopoulos, Konstantina Skouri
8 Tsunami of the Meteoric Origin Andrey Kozelkov, Efim Pelinovsky
9 The Donation Collections Routing Problem Emmett J. Lodree, Derek Carter, Emily Barbee
10 Network Criticality and Network Complexity Indicators for the Assessment of Critical Infrastructures During Disasters Evangelos Mitsakis, Josep Maria Salanova, Iraklis Stamos, Emmanouil Chaniotakis
11 Freight Service Provision for Disaster Relief: A Competitive Network Model with Computations Anna Nagurney
12 A Mean-Variance Disaster Relief Supply Chain Network Model for Risk Reduction with Stochastic Link Costs, Time Targets, and Demand Uncertainty Anna Nagurney, Ladimer S. Nagurney
13 A Review of Current Earthquake and Fire Preparedness Campaigns: What Works? Gabriela Perez-Fuentes, Enrica Verrucci, Helene Joffe
14 The Impact of the Syria Crisis on Lebanon Denise Sumpf, Vladimir Isaila, Kristine Najjar
15 Absenteeism Impact on Local Economy During a Pandemic via Hybrid SIR Dynamics E. W. Thommes, M. G. Cojocaru, Safia Athar
16 Tornado Detection with Kernel-Based Classifiers from WSR-88D Radar Data Theodore B. Trafalis, Budi Santosa, Michael B. Richman
17 Evacuation Modeling and Betweenness Centrality Chrysafis Vogiatzis, Panos M. Pardalos
18 Ode to the Humanitarian Logistician: Humanistic Logistics Through a Nurse’s Eye Deborah Wilson

The network that we are building in humanitarian logistics, emergency preparedness, and disaster relief is truly special.

For example, just a few days ago, it was special to be able to introduce my doctoral student, Deniz Besik, to Professor Burcu Balcik, at, appropriately, the WORMS (Women in Operations Research and the Management Sciences) Awards lunch at the INFORMS Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee.

Last year, I had the pleasure of co-hosting, along with the Transportation Center, Dr. George Karagiannis' visit and talk at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, which I also blogged about. He has conducted several risk assessments of nations including one for Malta, a country I have always wanted to visit.
Also, Rasmus Dahlberg, a speaker at our conference and a contributor to our book, gave two talks last spring at the Isenberg School of Management, and I sponsored his visit, in part. He is an amazing emergency expert, with a focus on the arctic, as well as a novelist and a radio TV personality in Denmark. The students in my Humanitarian Logistic and Healthcare class and I wished that he could have stayed longer!
In the Spring 2015, I had hosted Debbie Wilson, who spoke in my class, and she is one of the bravest women I have ever had the privilege of meeting. She spoke to my students about her work battling Ebola in Liberia with Doctors Without Borders during the immense healthcare crisis in the Fall of 2014 and, suitably, our Dynamics of Disasters volume ends with her terrific contribution.
Also, in our book is a chapter by Dr. Denise Sumpf and colleagues from the United Nations, on the Syrian crisis and ramifications for Lebanon. We hosted Dr. Sumpf in Spring 2008,  as part of our UMass Amherst INFORMS Speaker Series, which the great UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter helps me to organize. What an amazing list of speakers we had that spring, including INFORMS Fellow and National Academy of Engineering member, Dr. John Birge!

Finally, we are delighted that Dr. Emmett Lodree, also has a co-authored paper in our book. Lodree was one of the speakers in the Humanitarian Logistics: Networks for Africa conference that I organized at the Rockefeller Foundations' Bellagio Center on Lake Como in Italy in May 2008. Dr.  Panos M. Pardalos was also one of the speakers and the full program and speaker presentation slides can be accessed from the Supernetwork Center website.

Thanks to all those who made our Dynamics of Disasters: Key Insights, Models, Algorithms, and Insights, possible and let the discussions and research with implementation in practice continue!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Great Seeing One's Book on Exhibit at a Conference

I enjoy writing books and all the books that I have written have an underlying theme of networks, whether the book is on supply chains, sustainable transportation, finance, or on methodologies, ranging from variational inequalities to projected dynamical systems.

Professor Dimitri Bertsekas of MIT gave me some great advice a while ago and he told me that if I have 5 to 10 papers on a theme then it makes sense to write a book.

I enjoy developing the outline, figuring out the organization of the chapters, and, of course, selecting a title is also always important. Writing a book takes a lot of time and extreme focus but having a book published and seeing it in print and, also, increasingly, nowadays, online as well, is always a very joyous occasion.

Last week, while at the INFORMS conference in Nashville, Tennessee, one of the highlights was visiting the exhibits in a great hall where you could view displays by various publishers as well as software companies and even of several organizations. It was also a good place to network and have some refreshments.

My book, Competing on Supply Chain Quality:  Network Economics Perspective, that I co-authored with my former PhD student and Isenberg School of Management alumna, Dr. Dong "Michelle" Li, and that was recently published by Springer, was on display at its booth at the INFORMS conference.

My co-author and I were delighted to see it there and also enjoyed viewing other recently published books.

Also, on display, in a preprint version was the book that I co-edited with Professor Ilias Kotsireas and Professor Panos M. Pardalos, Dynamics of Disasters: Key Concepts, Models, Algorithms, and Insights, which we have been told by Springer will be available online by the end of the month and in hardcopy format by mid December. The book consists of a preface and 18 refereed book chapters from both academics and practitioners. The photo below is of me with Matt Amboy of Springer, who has always been really responsive to any questions that I may have and for which I am very grateful.
Although I did not get a chance to take a photo with Pardalos and our book now in production I did dine with him at the INFORMS Fellow lunch and took the photo below prior to us being seated. We are with Dr. Suvrajeet Sen and Dr. Mauricio Resende of Amazon, whom I had nominated for the Fellows Award and he was inducted that day.
Also, it was so nice to have Professor Chris Tang of UCLA, who is the Editor of the new Springer Series on Supply Chain Management, in which our Competing on Supply Chain Quality book appears, be at our table at the INFORMS Fellows lunch!

Last year, at the INFORMS Conference in Philadelphia,  the book, Networks Against Time: Supply Chain Analytics for Perishable Products, that I co-authored with Professors Min Yu, Amir H. Masoumi, and Ladimer S. Nagurney (the "other Professor Nagurney), was on display at the Springer book, so we took the photo below of 3 of the co-authors.
The week prior to the INFORMS conference in Nashville, I gave a plenary talk at the Game Theory and Security conference at NYU, which I also blogged about. There I was delighted to see on display a book that I did not author but in which I had a chapter written with my doctoral student, Shivani Shukla, and Ladimer S. Nagurney.
Best to everyone with their Operations Research and Management Science and Analytics research and keep on writing and publishing!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Building Student Leaders in Operations Research and Analytics Through INFORMS Student Chapters

Being a successful graduate student, especially a doctoral student, requires a lot of hard work and skill, but also a sense of community and enhancing one's professional development. Sooner or later, one will be on the job market and, whether you choose to be an academic and enjoy the amazing life of being a professor, or enter into a business or government career, having  a spectrum of skills is always advantageous.

This past week, many of us, over 5,700, in fact, had the pleasure of taking part in the INFORMS Annual Conference,  in Nashville, Tennessee, November 13-16, 2016. One of the highlights, even for me, a Chaired Professor at the Isenberg School of Management, was going to the Student Chapter Awards Ceremony and reception that followed last Monday evening. So many universities were represented and one can see from those students who came and were recognized and honored how these are leaders in all senses of the word - from their work ethic, their creativity, their abilities to build teams and to identify interesting activities, and how to disseminate their chapters' accomplishments, and to sustain them, grow and nurture them, and create lifelong ties that continue to support them throughout their careers.

I had written in an earlier blogpost that we were very excited that our UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter was receiving its 11th award in as many years from INFORMS. And not only did several members, including present chapter officers as well as past chapter officers, come to celebrate that evening with us but even alums came - some of whom are now tenured professors at various universities!  Special thanks to our Isenberg School of Management PhD alums in Management Science who came, including: Professors Hen Chen of the University of Nebraska, Amir Masoumi of Manhattan College, Jose Cruz of the University of Connecticut, Patrick Qiang of Penn State Malvern, Michelle Li of Arkansas State University, Min Yu of the University of Portland, and Farbod Farhadi of Roger Williams University. Drs. Masoumi, Cruz, Qiang, Li, and Yu were my PhD students. Masoumi and Qiang were both recipients of the Judith Liebman Award from INFORMS for their great leadership roles in the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter.

And, yes, it is not surprising that when on the job market, leadership roles as officers of an INFORMS Student Chapter, is always noticed and regularly brought up in interviews. Whether you are an academic or a practitioner in operations research and analytics, you may assume multiple tasks and roles and not only being knowledgeable matters but being able to deal with others, being good at organization (which our students certainly learn through hosting speakers in our Speakers Series), adept at scheduling, and logistics of activities, and even maintaining the chapter website are all very useful skills! We have sustained our chapter since 2004, as as its Faculty Advisor, I continue to marvel at the synergies associated with it. Students work together and thrive and the network grows and flourishes.

Below is a photo that we took which includes also a faculty member from UMass Amherst, Professor Ana Muriel, who joined us (and more PhD alums showed up even later). We are standing with our Cum Laude Award held by my doctoral student, Deniz Besik.

A highlight was seeing Professor Michael Johnson of UMass Boston give out the chapter awards as well as the Judith Liebman Awards. Our students so enjoyed networking with members of other student chapters and I personally was delighted to see such operations research dynamos and student leaders as Kayse Maass of the University of Michigan, one of last year's Judith Liebman award winners (with Michael Prokle of UMass Amherst, whom I had nominated), and Thiago Serra of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), one of this year's Liebman Award recipients (whom I had the pleasure of seeing at CMU when I spoke there last April).

Below are additional photos from that very special evening.

Also, the food at the reception was delicious. Below are some of the desserts.
Although many of us from UMass Amherst returned from the INFORMS conference late on Wednesday night, and had classes to teach or go to on Thursday, come yesterday, we were all excited to hear Dr. Chaitra Gopalappa, who had also been at INFORMS deliver a great talk. The students also made sure that there were refreshments before and, afterwards I took Deniz, and two of Dr. Gopalappa's doctoral students, one from Mongolia, and one from India, to lunch at our University Club.

Having such a community, which is building leaders in operations research and analytics, is energizing! Kudos to all the members of INFORMS Student Chapters!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

We Celebrated the 2016 Inducted INFORMS Fellows @INFORMS2016

I hope that all 5,700+ who attended the INFORMS Annual Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, have made it back safely to their destinations, although, some, I suspect, may still be traveling, given the global participation of operations researchers and analytics professionals at this conference.

I returned late last night to Amherst, Massachusetts, and today taught my Transportation and Logistics class. I  shared the conference program with my students. This is my second blogpost of the day since there is so much to report about this great conference.

On Monday, we celebrated the induction of the 2016 class of INFORMS Fellows. The first class of INFORMS Fellows was inducted in 2002. This year there were 2 females out of 12 elected, as in the years 2015 and 2014. In 2013, I was the only female elected an INFORMS Fellow and in 2012 there were no females elected. Nice to see that we are moving in a positive direction!

According to the INFORMS website: The Fellow Award is reserved for distinguished individuals who have demonstrated outstanding and exceptional accomplishments and experience in operations research and the management sciences (OR/MS). 

The 2016 Fellows were inducted at an Awards Lunch at our Annual Conference.

Prior to the lunch, I could not resist taking the photo below of Dr. Eva Lee of Georgia Tech, who is a 2015 INFORMS Fellow, seated with Dr. Ariela Sofer of George Mason University, who was inducted this year, as we waited for the doors to open.
I saw Ariela at the EURO conference in Poznan, Poland this past summer and we enjoyed the plenary of the Nobel laureate in Economic Sciences, Robert Aumann, together. I heard Eva give a plenary talk the year before in a beautiful church at the EURO conference in Glasgow, Scotland. Let's just say, we, operations researchers, are definitely frequent fliers!

Attendance at the Fellows Lunch was extraordinary - the human operations research capital there was amazing and I do attest that the Fellows are also so nice and friendly. I was thrilled since one of my nominees got selected this year.

Before getting seated to lunch, I took several photos below.
In the above photos some of you may recognize Drs. Suvrajeet Sen, Mauricio Resende, Panos M. Pardalos, Suresh Sethi, Paolo Toth (a 2016 INFORMS Fellow), and Nimrod Meggido.
In the above photo is my academic sister, Dr. Georgia Perakis of MIT, who, along with Ariela Sofer, represented the females in the Fellows class of 2016. She is standing opposite her husband, Dr. Dimitri Bertsimas of MIT. Also in the photo are Fellows Dr. Dorit Hochbaum of UC Berkeley and Dr. David Shmoys of Cornell University.

Georgia and I had the same doctoral dissertation advisor at Brown University - Dr. Stella Dafermos, but she passed away before Georgia defended her dissertation, so Professor Tom Magnanti, formerly the Dean of Engineering at MIT, guided her until completion. I was Stella's 1st PhD student and Georgia was Stella's 4th.

Seated at my table were: Dr. David Simchi-Levi of MIT, Dr. Guillermo Gallego, now of HKUST in Hong Kong, Dr. Chris Tang of UCLA, Dr. Ramayya Krishnan, Dean of the Heinz School at Carnegie Mellon University, Dr. Panos M. Pardalos of the University of Florida, Dr. Michael Katehakis of Rutgers University, and Dr. Mauricio Resende, now of Amazon.   The dessert was delicious - a bourbon, pecan chocolate tart with cream on top. Dr. Krishnan was one of my hosts when I gave a talk at Carnegie Mellon last April. Dr. Tang is the editor of the book series in which my Competing on Supply Chain Quality: A Network Economics Perspective appears as the second volume. Dr. Pardalos and I, along with Dr. Ilias Kotsireas, co-edited the book: Dynamics of Disasters: Key Concepts, Models, Algorithms, and Insights, which will be out very soon and which Springer had a prepublication volume on display at its booth.

I could not resist having the photos taken below of the books at the Exhibit Hall.
 The full list of 2016 INFORMS Fellows is below:

Congratulations to:
Stephen P. Boyd
Kevin Glazebrook
Peter J. Haas
Jeff Linderoth
Sanjay Mehrotra
George J. Miller
Georgia Perakis
Mauricio G.C. Resende
Ariela Sofer
Tamás Terlaky
Paolo Toth
Pascal Van Hentenryck!

It does amaze me that of the 12 new Fellows, I have corresponded with 7  recently.

Let's say we came back very inspired and energized from the INFORMS conference in Nashville!

Great Time Blogging the INFORMS Conference in Nashville

I returned late last evening from the INFORMS Annual Conference, which took place in Nashville, Tennessee, November 13-16, 2016. The conference attracted over 5,700 operations researchers, management scientists, and analytics professionals from around the globe.

The technical  sessions, tutorials, special events, business meetings, social networking get-togethers, exhibits, and informal meetings made for a very exciting and energizing conference. Plus, my co-authors and I had 5 technical presentations and I had also organized  special session on Novel Applications of Network Optimization.

I was one of the official bloggers for this conference and wrote three posts:

Everyone Had a Great Time at the WORMS Awards Lunch Including the Men,

Our Wonderful INFORMS Student Chapters,

#INFORMS2016 as a Reunion Venue for My Former PhD Students.

The full list of bloggers is below.
 Ana Alexandrescu
Aaron Burciaga, CAP
Allen Butler
Antonio Carbajal, CAP
Rodolfo Carvajal
Sertalp Çay
Ken Chelst
Esma Gel
Mike Gorman
David Hunt
S. Phil Kim
Gino Lim
Kayse Maass
Polly Mitchell-Guthrie
Anna Nagurney
Patrick Noonan
Paul Rubin
Thiago Serra
Frances Sneddon
Aurelie Thiele
Michael Trick.

You can access all the posts from the conference website. 

Thanks to everyone and especially to INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences) for making the conference such a big success!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Looking Forward to @INFORMS2016 in Nashville with Talks on Disaster Relief to Cybersecurity

Last week, I was at New York University for a fantastic Game Theory and Security conference that I blogged about and this week has been historic with the US Presidential election result on Tuesday. I am glad that we live in Amherst, Massachusetts.

As a faculty member, one keeps on marching on, and, this past Wednesday, the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter, which will be receiving its 11th award from INFORMS in as many years at  the INFORMS conference that takes place in Nashville, Tennessee, November 13-16, 2016, hosted a Tune-Up for this conference and two  other upcoming ones. The 6 students who presented on their research with their advisors did a wonderful job and, frankly, it was a great distraction from the election outcome. 3 of the 6 talks were on climate change issues, one was on healthcare, one on global distribution, and my student spoke on competitive supply chains with quality of fresh produce with applications to farmers' markets. She will be presenting this joint work of ours at the INFORMS Computing Society conference in Texas in January. We had several faculty and additional students show up to support the speakers. The event lasted two and a half hours with questions and comments to improve the students' talks, if need be.
Below are a few photos from the above event.
At the INFORMS conference in Nashville, I am a co-author of five paper presentations and four are now ready. Please visit the Supernetwork Center website at the Isenberg School of Management for the presentations that we have uploaded. I organized a session for this conference on Novel Applications of Network Optimization and look forward to the talks on supply chains, disaster relief, financial hedging, and medical resource allocation in epidemics. The annual INFORMS conference also always serves as a fabulous venue for a reunion of many of the Supernetwork Center Associates, so there will be nice get-togethers and also photo opportunities. Some of our presentation topics, from disaster relief to cybersecurity, that we will be presenting are shown below. I am also very excited that a collaborator from Colombia will be coming to the conference to speak on our joint work on auction mechanisms for Internet adoption.

In addition to sessions, there are many special events at this conference and I am looking forward to the INFORMS Fellows Awards lunch, the WORMS (Women in Operations Research and the Management Sciences) lunch, the Transportation & Logistics Society meeting, the INFORMS Computing Society meeting, some editorial board meetings,  and award ceremonies.  It will be a very busy but enjoyable conference.

Wishing everyone safe travels to Nashville and a fabulous INFORMS conference!