Monday, September 25, 2017

The Terrific INFORMS Speakers Program

A huge resource for members of our professional society INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences) is the INFORMS Speakers Program. 

Through this program, one can request a speaker on the Speakers Program list and it is a fabulous list! Typically, an organization requests a speaker and this is an excellent service for INFORMS Student Chapters or Regional INFORMS Chapters. Indeed, this resource was also emphasized at last spring's wonderful Student Leadership Conference in Austin, Texas at which two of our chapter officers, Pritha Dutta and Deniz Besik of the Isenberg School, took part in.

I had chaired this committee a few years ago and very much enjoyed working with Dr. Les Servi of MITRE and Dr. Tim Lowe of the University of Iowa to expand the list of speakers.Speakers are from academia and from industry and are experts in operations research, the management sciences, and analytics.

The host organization is responsible for on-site expenses of the speaker but INFORMS (of course, budget allowing) covers the travel costs.

I've enjoyed very much being a speaker in the INFORMS Speakers Program at various universities (including Texas A&M and the University of Pittsburgh) and also at INFORMS chapter sites (Dallas and Boston).  And when Mary Magrogran, the Director of Membership, Subdivisions & International Activities of INFORMS, reached out to me last week whether I would be willing to speak at the University of Alabama this semester, I checked my schedule and we found a mutually convenient set of dates so I am very much looking forward to going there and seeing operations research and analytics colleagues and students!

As the Faculty Advisor to the UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter (since the chapter was founded in 2004), I also help the students in organizing a speaker series and believe fully in the importance of bringing speakers to campus. We have availed ourselves of the INFORMS Speakers Program over the years and the students, faculty, and even staff,  who were lucky enough to hear our guests speak treasure those memories. Also the networking opportunities are clear.

We have had the following speakers from the INFORMS Speakers Program come to the Isenberg School of Management (note that some may no longer be on the list but others continue providing this valuable, very educational service): Dr. James Benneyan of Northeastern University, Dr. Sheldon Jacobson of the University of Illinois, Dr. Radhika Kulkarni of SAS, Dr. John Birge of the University of Chicago. We have also hosted Dr. Les Servi of MITRE and Dr. Richard Larson of MIT who are on the list (although we did not request funding from INFORMS since they are quite local). We also had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Brenda Dietrich of IBM in our UMass Amherst INFORMS Speaker Series!

Below are some photos of the above named guest speakers. Many thanks for their willingness to travel and speak to audiences that benefit greatly from their lectures and discussions that follow. Also, a BIG thanks to INFORMS for sponsoring the INFORMS Speakers Program.

Dr. Richard Larson at the Isenberg School after his presentation: Simple Models of Influenza Progression and Control

Dr. Radhikha Kulkarni of SAS after her terrific talk on Succeeding with Business Analytics: Key Challenges
Dr. John Birge, now the Editor of Operations Research, after his great talk at the Isenberg School on A News-vendor Model for Dynamic Investment and Financing Decisions: Capital Structure Implications and Empirical Results

Dr. Sheldon Jacobson after lunch at the University Club following his talk: An Analysis of Pediatric Vaccine Pricing and Stockpiling Issues

Dr. Brenda Dietrich's talk was on Services Sciences: A New Opportunity for Operations Research.

Dr. James Benneyan after speaking on Healthcare Systems Engineering   

And, for those of you who are interested in some suggestions as to how to organize a successful Speaker Series, please see one of my most popular blogposts on this topic.