Thursday, July 22, 2021

Thanks to All Who Made Our 2021 Dynamics of Disasters Conference a Success!

The 5th International Conference on Dynamics of Disasters has now come to a close. It was Professor Panos M. Pardalos who had the vision to start this conference series. I have had the honor of co-organizing the last four of them. This year the conference was virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was co-organized by Professors Pardalos, Ilias S. Kotsireas, Chrys Vogiatzis, and me, with support provided by Professor Fuad Aleskerov and Sofia Papadaki. The conference website has a link to the full program and information on the outstanding plenary speakers: Professor Maria Besiou and Professor Oleg Prokopyev, and Dr. Stavros Siokos and Dr. George Karagiannis. It was very appropriate and illuminating to have plenary speakers from academia, industry, and government, who shed light on the latest research as well as best practices. 

The plenary talks were truly inspirational!

This was a single stream conference, which worked very well. There were excellent questions and a lot of discussions. Speakers and participants came from many countries, including: Austria, Germany, Italy, India, Nepal, Russia, the UK and the United States! It was very special to have four of my former PhD students present: Dr. Deniz Besik of the University of Richmond, Dr. Pritha Dutta of Pace University, Dr. Tina Wakolbinger of the Vienna University of Economics and Business, and the plenary speaker, Dr. Stavros Siokos! Dr. Besik presented on our latest food supply chain research with disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is joint work with Dr. Dutta. Dr. Dutta, in turn, presented on our convalescent plasma research, a paper that was very recently published in Operations Research Forum. Also, my PhD student, Mojtaba Salarpour, presented  our paper published in the International Journal of Production Economics. In addition, I presented a paper on refugee migration networks that was co-authored with Professor Patrizia Daniele of the University of Catania and Professor Ladimer S. Nagurney of the University of Hartford. Our paper had been recently published in the Journal of Global Optimization. Professor Daniele also presented a paper on UAVs and 5G for disaster relief, work with Daniele Sciacca and Gabriella Colajanni.

As Professor Stephan Onggo of the UK (he is originally from Indonesia and is heading the Ops-Relief project) said: Disaster Management is complex and requires many different tools. And, indeed, the conference talks demonstrated the utility and applicability of optimization and simulation tools, AI and Machine Learning, game theory, network science, Data Envelope Analysis, and even the analysis of Twitter. There was definitely a "network" theme in many of the presentations!

Special thanks to colleagues in Nepal, India, and Russia, who joined us despite the challenges with their time zones and the conference talk scheduling. I am so grateful to each and every speaker and participant for the knowledge that was exchanges and also for the very supportive community that we have been building across the miles.

I am very pleased that many new research ideas were generated and new connections made virtually across the miles. It was wonderful to have 3 INFORMS Fellows take part in the conference, Professors Pardalos and Vicki Bier and me!

Below is a virtual group picture of the conferees.

Professor Panos M. Pardalos closed out the conference with the following quote, which I leave you with, "Keep positive but test negative!"

Professor Pardalos, inspired by Dr. Siokos, who emphasized that trees are the only "technology" that removes carbon from the air, then showed us the book in the photo below. Dr. Siokos is the co-founder of Astarte Capital Partners, based in London, England, which invests heavily in forests around the globe.

And we will be co-editing a special issue of the journal Operations Research Forum on our conference theme. The call for papers can be downloaded here.