Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Amazing 60th (Diamond Anniversary) Conference of The OR Society at Lancaster University

I have been back from England less than four days, having returned from the fabulous OR60 Conference at Lancaster University late last Wednesday.
This very special diamond anniversary Operational Research (OR) Conference was one I could not miss, having been invited by OR ambassador extraordinaire - Graham Rand and The OR Society to deliver the opening plenary talk, which kicked off the conference on September 11, 2018. As I had written about in my previous blogpost, I also had been invited to speak at the inaugural Early Career Researcher Workshop held at the same university, September 9 and 10. So, after teaching my classes  the first week of the new academic year at the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst I was off to England!

It was a big honor to give a plenary at this conference and I did a lot of research in preparing it. I delivered it at what was, in effect, about 4:30AM my body time, but since I am an early bird, this worked for me.
My plenary talk has now been posted, due to numerous requests that I received. There were over 400 conferees at my hour presentation and I thoroughly enjoyed presenting and addressing the very interesting and thoughtful questions that followed. Throughout the day I had the pleasure of meeting both doctoral students and senior researchers not only from England but throughout the world. I was delighted to even see my UMass Boston colleague, Professor Michael Johnson, who is a leader in Community OR, arrive and I enjoyed his presentation very much.
We were not the only faculty from Massachusetts (New England) at OR60. I also met female colleagues from Bentley University and WPI.

It was quite special to have support provided for my plenary from the publisher Springer and I enjoyed meeting the Editor and seeing three of my books on exhibit there! A shout out to my co-authors: Professors Amir H. Masoumi, Min Yu, Dong "Michelle" Li, and Ladimer S. Nagurney as well as to my co-editors: Professors Ilias S. Kotsireas and Panos M. Pardalos!
It was a pleasure to have the photo below taken with Graham Rand, resplendent in an OR tie, and two fabulous STORi doctoral students, Emma and Lucy. The student volunteers in their bright red t-shirts were tremendously helpful.
Lunches and snacks were provided and there was even a boat cruise and dinner and dancing (which I missed because I had a lot of travel early the morning after back to the US).

I enjoyed meeting new colleagues in OR and thank everyone for their appreciation and kind words regarding my plenary talk.
It was a special thrill to meet several colleagues that I had only "met" through Twitter previously!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my wonderful hosts as well as Hilary Wilkes and Charlene Timewell of  The OR Society for making my travel and stay so smooth and comfortable.

A special thanks to the staff at Lancaster House for the excellent and very cozy accommodations and the delicious British breakfasts, which kept me well-fortified.
Operational Research (or Operations Research, as we say in the US) is in fabulous shape and OR60 will be one for the record books is terms of excellent organization, hospitality, friendliness, and attention to detail and I am eternally grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of it.

Friday, September 14, 2018

An Outstanding Early Career Researcher Workshop in OR in England

When the invitation arrived from Distinguished University Professor Kevin Glazebrook of the School of Management at Lancaster University in England I was delighted and quickly accepted. I was asked to present a plenary talk at the inaugural Early Career Researcher (ECR) Workshop at his university, September 8-9, 2018. This workshop, which was sponsored by The OR Society, was organized for advanced doctoral students, postdocs, and junior faculty, and was to take place immediately before the diamond anniversary OR60 Conference (at which I was to give the opening plenary talk and had graciously been invited by Graham Rand, also of Lancaster University).

There was some juggling, since the new academic year began on September 4 at UMass Amherst and, hence, I would have to make sure that the class that I would miss teaching would be covered (and it was, thanks to two of my doctoral students).

This was going to be my third trip to Lancaster University. I had spoken there when I was a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College at Oxford University in 2016 and I also taught a Master Class there on Network Equilibrium in March 2018, during spring break at UMass Amherst.

Luckily, although my trip was whirlwind, with me leaving on September 7 and returning on September 12, since Aer Lingus now has a flight from our local airport, Bradley, to Dublin, it was quite manageable. I flew to Dublin, then onwards to Manchester, and was picked up on the last leg (and driven via taxi) to Lancaster. While in Lancaster, I always stay at the Lancaster House, which is one of my favorite hotels, and I even have a favorite room there! Lugging my suitcase up the stairs in the rain to the regional plane in Dublin and then down in the rain in Manchester was not quite pleasant, but a small price to pay for a fabulous time professionally and personally. Below is a photo of the entrance to Lancaster House.

The workshop was held in the hotel, which made everything very convenient.

Professor Kevin Glazebrook gave the opening plenary and set the stage for the workshop. I was thrilled to see that there were workshop participants from throughout Great Britain and even from as far as Thailand, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia!
Special thanks to Charlene Timewell of The OR Society for handling the logistics of my stay and for such a warm welcome (it was chilly weatherwise my entire time in Lancaster but a break from the heatwaves in Massachusetts).
The workshop included 5 minute presentations by each early career researcher and it was a pleasure to listen to their research and near term plans.

My plenary was entitled: Network Journeys: For the Love of Operational Research.

In the US,  OR stands for Operations Research and, in Britain, for Operational Research, but we are part of the same professional discipline and community. I was asked by Professor Glazebrook to include autobiographical material in my plenary talk so I did and my presentation is now posted. It contains a lot of useful advice that I have accumulated and acquired over the years. I thoroughly enjoyed preparing this plenary and also in giving it.

The first evening we had a delicious workshop banquet and chatted and exchanged experiences with a lot of laughter. The menu was fabulous.

Also assisting and taking part in the workshop, in addition to the early career researchers, were: Professors Christine Currie, Paul Harper, and Arne Strauss, with Professor Edmund Burke giving an extremely useful presentation on: "How to Write a Great Proposal." Also offering advice were: Dr. Alain Zemkoho and Dr. Stephen Maher. The early career researchers had a homework assignment before the workshop to evaluate a series of actual proposals and to rank them (with thanks to the senior researchers who shared the proposals for such an educational purpose). There was also an excellent presentation by a representative from Taylor & Francis on "How to get Published."

The full workshop program is provided below.

The atmosphere was very congenial with an easy exchange of ideas and experiences and very worthwhile for all in attendance! The workshop, if I may, was also a lot of fun.

Special thanks to the energetic and inspiring early career researchers - the future of our profession is in wonderful hands! It was very special to meet you and I wish you the fulfillment of all of your dreams.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Celebrating Operations Research (OR) Through Plenary Talks in England

It has been a while since I blogged with my most recent post being a thank you to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University where I spent the major part of this summer.

In the month of August  I was busy finishing up a paper on disaster relief, doing galleys, serving as the Chair of the INFORMS Computing Society (ICS) Student Paper Award Committee (with 36 paper submissions), serving on the INFORMS Service Award Committee (thanks to our fabulous volunteers), and getting ready for the new academic year. A big shoutout and thanks to my ICS committee members: Professor Sergiy Butenko of Texas A&M and Professor Frank E. Curtis of Lehigh University for their great work!

Plus, I have been preparing two plenary talks that I will be giving in a few days in England. The very special events that I will be speaking at are the Early Career Researcher (ECR) Workshop and OR60 - the diamond anniversary conference of The Operational Research (OR) Society! Both are conveniently timed back to back and located at Lancaster University. I gave a Master Class there on Network Equilibrium last March to the STORi PhD students and enjoyed the experience tremendously. The Operations Research faculty at Lancaster are extraordinary and Lancaster University was the first university in England to have a Chair in OR, right at its founding in 1964!

I am very honored to be a plenary speaker at both of these events and have thoroughly enjoyed preparing my plenary talks. Special thanks to Professors Kevin Glazebrook and Graham Rand and to The OR Society as well as to the publisher, Springer, for the invitations and sponsorship!

I have completed my talks and, in preparing them, I did a  lot of research into the history of Operations Research (Operational Research in England). Both Professor Rand as well as Dr. Will Thomas (who also serves with me on the INFORMS History and Traditions Committee) were very helpful in answering a few questions that I had. My talks will be informative and I hope very inspirational. In my OR60 plenary I will also envision what the OR100 conference in 40 years will be like - looking into the future of our discipline and its impact.  I can hardly wait!
Looking forward to celebrating OR through my plenary talks and interactions with students and colleagues in England soon. After I return from England I will make my talks available to the public.