Friday, April 28, 2017

Outstanding Operations Research and Healthcare Undergraduate Honors Thesis and Defense

Today was magical - warm and sunny and it was a day that I was eagerly anticipating since my Isenberg School of Management student, Karen Li, whose concentration is Operations and Information Management, was presenting at the statewide undergraduate research conference at UMass Amherst. Karen is also  a UMass Amherst Commonwealth Honors College student.

This was also the setting for her honors thesis defense. Karen is a senior and is graduating in early May. Karen has taken every course that I now teach, including my doctoral seminar. She became particularly inspired by my Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare course, which she took as a junior.

I first walked across campus and caught some lovely sights.

The venue for the conference was the UMass Amherst Campus Center. I was delighted to get a program and even a badge.
Karen had set up the poster on her thesis: Hospital Competition in Prices and Quality: A Variational Inequality Framework. Her thesis is just under 100 pages and I was extremely touched by the acknowledgments.

I am the chair of her dissertation committee, along with my colleague in Operations Research from the College of Engineering, Dr. Chaitra Gopalappa.

Not only did Karen's parents come to the conference and her defense but even one of her sisters came. Also many of her friends from UMass Amherst came to support her as well as one of my PhD students, Pritha Dutta.

The passion that Karen has for improving healthcare in hospitals, from emergency departments, onwards, is extraordinary. Her thesis has already generated an article submitted to a journal and I suspect there will be at least one more paper.

And, for another absolutely delightful surprise - her father was a classmate in Shanghai, China,  of my first female PhD student at the Isenberg School of Management, Dr. June Dong! They had both studied systems engineering there. So he called her - she is a Full Professor at the School of Business at SUNY Oswego, and we had a wonderful conversation.

Then it was time for the senior barbecue at the Isenberg School of Management, complete with the great cake below.
Congratulations to Karen Li on an outstanding operations research and healthcare honors thesis and on a successful defense today. It is such a joy having such an amazing student who already has made such an impact on so many, from her work in Haiti, to her work as a supervisor for The Boltwood Project and as leader of a group of students that volunteer at the Center School for Crisis Intervention and Assessment in Holyoke for mentally disabled and physically challenged students.