Thursday, August 3, 2017

Terrific Experience as a Summer Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University

The past several months, I have been a Summer Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (RIAS) at Harvard University In 2005-2006, I had been a Fellow at RIAS, and previous Fellows can apply to return for the summer. When I became aware of such an opportunity, I applied, and was thrilled to be selected as a Summer Fellow.

Last year I was a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College at Oxford University, and for 4 summers prior, I had spent time as a Visiting Professor at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. I believe that, as an academic, one should put oneself in new surroundings to garner inspiration from. This helps in terms of research and personal growth, which one can then utilize even in teaching.

I thought it would be interesting to head back to Cambridge, Massachusetts and to explore another intellectual center. Since during the year I am based at UMass Amherst this made for a much easier move than the past couple of summers. Remarkably, although Amherst is physically only about 90 minutes away from Cambridge it is very different since it is quite rural.

Living this summer at 83 Brattle Street, which is only two blocks from Harvard Square, as we had back in 2005-2006, made for a 5 minute walk to Radcliffe. The Fellows are now housed in beautiful Byerly Hall in the Radcliffe Yard.

The research projects that I was focusing on this summer included developing and solving game theory models for disaster relief and blood supply chains. With a corner office in Byerly Hall and with a view of a garden and fountain, I could not help but be inspired.  I had asked for a standing desk, and loved working at it, equipped in the morning with a latte from a neighboring cafe.

Immediately I felt welcome, by meeting other Fellows over the years, and seeing staff that had been here when I was at RIAS in 2005-2006. I enjoyed conversations with a novelist, physicists, a biochemist, applied mathematicians, and anthropologists, to name just a few of the disciplines represented.

RIAS, being at Harvard, was also a magnet for many visitors, and I was delighted to be able to have my doctoral students visit, and to get together with other colleagues at Harvard and former students from UMass Amherst as well, and even relatives, with Harvard faculty included.

Radcliffe provided a peaceful, beautiful environment and I am so grateful that when I needed a room with a landline for a radio interview, one was found for me. It was a pleasure being interviewed for the Dr. Matt Townsend Show based on my research on critical infrastructure.

The lunches that the Fellows indulged in at RIAS helped to fortify us as did the conversations and the various seminars.

Since arriving in early June, I managed to prepare (and they were all delivered) 7 different talks, some of which I have posted, including one on June 21st at Radcliffe. We also started  the process of  editing of the new Dynamics of Disasters volume with Ilias S. Kotsireas and Panos M. Pardalos, based on the conference that we co-organized and that took place in early July in Greece. 
I also completed three papers, which were submitted for publication, and revised two others.

The friendliness of the administrators and staff at Radcliffe and the surrounding community added to the wonderful experience. The research continues and support by RIAS is being gratefully acknowledged. RIAS, with its nurturing of creativity, scholarship, and interdisciplinary research,  will always be a second home for me and for this I am extremely thankful.