Thursday, November 8, 2018

Thoroughly Enjoyed Giving the Omega Rho Plenary Lecture - Networks to Save the World: Operations Research (OR) in Action

Professor Tim Anderson, the President of the Omega Rho Society, with an illustrious board, had reached out to me many months ago and shared with me that it was being  recommended that I be the 2018 Omega Rho Distinguished Lecturer. This would involve giving a plenary address at the INFORMS 2018 meeting in Phoenix, November 4-7. I was greatly honored and delighted and was subsequently officially notified (after further approvals) by the conference organizing committee and the plenary and keynote chairs. The general chair of this year's conference was Dr. Young-Jun Son, Professor and Head of the Systems and Industrial Engineering Department at the University of Arizona, who deserves kudos!

The list of previous Omega Rho plenary speakers can be viewed here and it is truly a list of luminaries. I have had the pleasure of being at several of these distinguished lectures over the years.

I would be standing on the "shoulders of giants" so I wanted to deliver a talk that would be inspiring, from the heart, very informative; one that I would enjoy giving and that the audience would enjoy as well! The title that I selected was: Networks to Save the World: OR in Action. This was an exceptional INFORMS conference for numerous reasons, including  the number of female plenary and keynote speakers.

I had worked on my presentation over many weeks, giving it a lot of thought and effort and was very excited for the opportunity to share experiences and insights with operations research and analytics colleagues from around the globe, from students to very senior colleagues.

After a full day of travel on Saturday, I was very "pumped" for my talk at 3:10PM (my body clock said it was 6:10PM). It was extra special to see so many of our UMass Amherst Isenberg School of Management PhD alumni and also College of Engineering alumni showing up early to welcome me in the big ballroom. It was also great to have two of my present doctoral students, Deniz Besik and Pritha Dutta, come with backups of my talk and they also served as photographers.
 Professor Tim Anderson gave a very warm introduction and then it was time for my lecture!
I had to acknowledge the work of my dissertation advisor at Brown University, Professor Stella Dafermos, depicted in the above slide. I also included in my talk the awesome academic pedigree that I am part of - thanks to the Mathematics academic genealogy project with the outstanding scientists: Maxwell, going back to Newton, and even Galileo, being part of my academic genealogy.

In my talk, I discussed many application of networks from transportation and the Braess paradox to perishable product supply chains from food to healthcare to disaster relief and even our project on Future Internet Architecture, known as ChoiceNet.
After my presentation, I had many questions, and it was thrilling to have members of the audience come up to chat. I can't thank everyone personally, but I do want to say that I am extremely appreciative. I am also very grateful for the thoughtful gift presented to me after my lecture by Professor Tim Anderson and INFORMS! Special thanks to the INFORMS staff who came to my plenary talk and for their kind comments that they enjoyed it very much.
As promised, I have posted the slides from my Omega Rho plenary talk on the Supernetwork Center website.

A big thanks to Zulqarnain Haider for writing a blogpost on my plenary on the conference website.

After the plenary, it was time for an editorial board meeting and then I wrapped up a perfect day by hosting my doctoral students (both past and present) who had made it to the conference by Sunday (others were coming on subsequent days) for dinner.
In the above photo are: Dr. Jose Cruz, Dr. Shivani Shukla, Dr. Min Yu, Dr. Amir Masoumi, Deniz Besik, Pritha Dutta, Dr. Dmytro Matsypura, who traveled all the way from Sydney, Australia, and even brought his doctoral student, Jessica. It was her first INFORMS conference and her first scholarly presentation.

The past, present, and future of OR are a powerful network of scholarship and community! I am so lucky to be part of INFORMS and this fabulous profession.