Saturday, October 6, 2018

Great Time Speaking at the University of Michigan on Game Theory and Disaster Relief

I'd like to thank the INFORMS Student Chapter at the University of Michigan, its fabulous Chapter Officers and members, Professors Marina Epelman and Mariel Lavieri, and the INFORMS Speaker Program, for making my visit to the University of Michigan so memorable and wonderful! It was a pleasure to speak at the Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering (IOE).

I had been invited by the Chapter President, Gian-Gabriel Garcia, last Spring, and due to too many engagements at that time, we settled on the date of October 5 for my talk.

This was my first time at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor so I was very much looking forward to presenting my work on game theory network models for disaster relief.

The trip on Delta from Bradley airport to Detroit was smooth and comfortable (although for some reason I got assigned a middle seat), and I was picked up in a big black SUV limo at the airport and then driven to my hotel. The chauffeur had been to the UMass Amherst graduation in May 2018 with his children since he had a nephew graduating (and his niece also graduated from UMass Amherst) so this was clearly a good sign! He shared with me how his children enjoyed the delicious food at UMass (indeed, we have been ranked #1 in this dimension for three years in a row).

My hosts had organized a delightful schedule for me, beginning with a pickup yesterday morning by Professor Mariel Lavieri, and a session with interested students. I was actually speaking in their diversity seminar series.
The students, which included even an undergrad student, along with graduate students plus a graduate student who had driven from Wayne State University and was a UMass Amherst alum (rather wonderful, I must say), came up with individual questions that they were interested in my answers to and Professor Lavieri wrote them down on a white board as below.

The questions were excellent - professors could stay for the first 30 minutes and then were asked to leave so the students could engage in further discussions. The hour flew by much too quickly. It was a treat to meet face to face doctoral students that I had been following through Twitter: in addition to the Chapter President Gian-Gabriel Garcia, I met Emily Tucker,  Lauren Steimle, and Karmel Shehadeh and later in the day - Adam VanDeusen and Ann aWhite.

Then, after perhaps a 5 minute break, it was time for my seminar and I have posted my presentation slides here.

It was an honor to have Professor Brian Denton, the 2017 President of INFORMS, come to my talk. He is now the Chair of the IOE Department and I also had a chance to speak with him later in the afternoon..

Many thanks to Lauren Steimle for sharing the photos below.
During my talk I mentioned my new book, which had been shipped and was supposedly had been delivered to the Isenberg School according to the publisher, Springer, while I was in Michigan (still have not seen the hardcopy).

Lunch was delicious and was served in the IOE building, which has to be one of the most beautiful engineering buildings I have ever been in, complete with artwork and beautiful decorations plus views. Many alums were back for Homecoming events.
It was wonderful to also see Professors Amy Cohn, Romesh Saigal, and Stephen Pollock plus Professor Larry Seiford. Professor Seiford,  who had been a colleague of mine at UMass Amherst before going to NSF and then to the University of Michigan, treated me to a cappuccino that he made!
I had the pleasure of listening (while we ate lunch) to Dr. Robert Sargent of Syracuse University reflect on his career in simulation and he was given the alumni award from Professor Bran Denton.

After the Q&A I got to meet Professor Sargent's daughter, who works for Intel, and just happens to be a UMass Amherst alumna in Industrial Engineering & Operations Research.

It is quite a special, wonderful academic OR world, I must say.

Thanks also to Professors Siqian Shen and Ruiwei Jiang for a great conversation after the guest lecture.

It was hard to say good-bye because there was still so much to discuss and I thank the students that have reached out to me even after my return.

And, to make a perfect visit even more perfect, although my flight from Detroit was supposedly fully booked, I got switched to a comfort aisle seat from a middle seat and just behind business class - thank you, wonderful Delta agent! For those of you who have not been to the University of Michigan (I have quite a few colleagues and even neighbors with Michigan degrees), it is worth the trip. The Detroit Airport is also a hidden gem with great restaurants and shops and an elevated, quiet red tram zipping past the gates.

The present and future of Operations Research are in good hands with the outstanding student leaders and scholars at the Department IOE at the University of Michigan. I did miss not seeing Professor Mark Daskin, but he had told me while we were at CORS in Halifax last summer, that he would be on sabbatical, and Professor Jon Lee was away at the US Naval Academy.

Also, a BIG thanks to the staff of the Department of IOE for their hospitality and for making all the logistical connections for me.